Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. What people are talking about today: Perhaps you got an email from Amazon letting you know that someone purchased a gift off your baby registry. And perhaps you were perplexed, because Amazon sent emails to a lot of people who weren’t expecting a baby. Amazon blamed a “technical glitch,” as Ad Age’s Megan Graham writes. Some people laughed it off, others didn’t. Among the recipients of the email were people struggling with infertility; one woman in that situation wrote on Twitter that she received the email while watching a TV commercial for Clearblue pregnancy tests, a one-two punch of marketing-induced misery. A year ago, another woman wrote an entire New York Times’ Modern Love column about baby-related marketing she continued to receive after a miscarriage. Seriously, marketers, those mistakes can hurt.
Raisin Bran, meet sausage links
Post Holdings, known for its breakfast cereals like Raisin Brand and Grape-Nuts, plans to buy Bob Evans Farms, known for its breakfast sausages. The deal is valued at about $1.5 billion. This is another sign of changes afoot at consumer packaged-goods companies; shoppers are looking for fresher or trendier options, and companies are figuring out how to deal with that (while cutting their ad spends.) Post said the acquisition gives it more access to the higher-growth part of grocery stores—the refrigerated section. Post’s cereal brands, of course, are stuck in the less desirable center aisles, along with the junk food.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg learned Mandarin, and he jogged cheerfully through Beijing despite terrible air pollution. He also asked President Xi Jinping to give his unborn baby a Chinese name, a detail confirmed by The New York Times this week. (The president turned him down.) Why the charm offensive? China’s government blocks the masses from accessing Facebook; to use it, you need special tools.
Now one analyst, James Lee of Mizuho Securities, believes 2018 might be Zuckerberg’s year, the year his company has “a realistic opportunity for entering China.” In a note, he writes that Facebook’s appointment of a Beijing-based government relations exec is one good sign. So is the fact that Facebook makes plenty of money from Chinese brands targeting consumers outside China. Lee estimates Facebook is making more than $1 billion annually from Chinese advertisers, or 4 percent of total revenues, a figure gathered from checks with ad agencies. China is pushing for its brands to grow more overseas, and Zuckerberg can make the case that he helps them. Watch this space.
About the president: After a speech at the U.N. threatening to “totally destroy North Korea,” President Trump let off some steam on Twitter by mocking the Emmy Awards for its ratings, which were about on par with last year’s, according to Variety. (Trump has never won an Emmy for his reality show work. Sad!)
I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night – the worst ever. Smartest people of them all are the “DEPLORABLES.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
About the first lady: Billboards for an English-language school in Croatia used a portrait of the U.S. first lady, Melania Trump, with the caption, “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English.” They were taken down after her lawyer threatened a lawsuit, The Associated Press reports.
‘Arbitrary and capricious’: “McCann Worldgroup has won the protest it filed this summer against the Army’s Government Accountability Office alleging that its elimination from a review for the Army’s business was ‘arbitrary and capricious,'” as Ad Age’s Lindsay Stein reports.
T-Mobile and Sprint: The two carriers are in active merger talks, CNBC reports. It’s far from a done deal, and CNBC says people close to the situation “believe the chances of reaching an agreement are not assured.”
Toshiba: Toshiba Corp. wants to sell its chip business to a group that includes Apple and Dell, The Wall Street Journal says. But this is also not a done deal. The Journal reports that “the parties have yet to reach a final agreement, and opposition to the deal remains.”
Getting experiential: Best Buy plans to offer smart home shops and enhanced merchandising within all of its more than 1,000 stores by the end of next month, as Ad Age’s Adrienne Pasquarelli reports.
Idol: “ABC’s reboot of ‘American Idol’ is costing advertisers around $200,000 for a 30-second spot,” as Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports.
Worth reading: Shelly Palmer, CEO of The Palmer Group, self-identifies as an Apple fanboy. But he’s got issues with the iPhone X, as he writes in Ad Age: “Not only is Apple unapologetic about its blatant imitation of Samsung, but the company took the artistic liberty of claiming that the iPhone X’s features were ‘amazing,’ incredible,’ and ‘new.'”
Creativity Pick: Ikea’s new augmented reality app, Ikea Place, lets you imagine what its furniture would look like in your living room, and Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine takes a look at the marketing campaign around it. Bonus: The video’s voiceover has a charming Swedish-inflected accent.