Imgur: New frontier for ads? Image host Imgur boasts 140 million monthly visitors and $40 million in VC funding. Until now, though, the traffic juggernaut has made only a few tentative attempts at integrating advertising. That status quo seems to be changing; the company last week announced a VP of market development, Steve Patrizi (former head of partner marketing at Pinterest) and plans to boost the presence of native ads in the first half of 2015.
Uber reverses after surge-pricing Sydney hostage scene. Google's corporate motto is "Don't be evil," but Uber is picking up many colorful crowdsourced slogans after a string of debacles featuring violence, sexism and apparent displays of rampant greed. This weekend, the company responded to a hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia, by jacking up fees to four times standard for people evacuating the area. While Uber says "surge pricing" is necessary to induce its drivers to pick up customers during periods of high demand, the outcry over this rate increase prompted the company to back down within an hour after it hit the media.
McRib sighted in UK. When is a compressed pork product more than the sum of its parts? When it's the infamous McRib, the elusive McDonald's sandwich that has become legendary for its sporadic appearances on the market. Marketing's Shona Ghosh reports that McRib is returning to the United Kingdom on Dec. 31 (after one reported sighting in Sheffield in June). McRib-watchers are ecstatic:
No word yet whether the storied sandwich will appear Stateside — but the obsessive-compulsive among us can follow its movements via this fan-generated McRib Locator.
FTC puts brakes on auto dealers’ ads. The Federal Trade Commission on Friday charged two auto-dealership groups with violating earlier FTC orders from the FTC to avoid misleading ads about payments and financing. Billion Auto, which has 20 retail locations in Iowa, Montana and South Dakota, was charged along with its advertising company, Nichols Media Inc. The FTC also charged Ramey Motors Inc. of Princeton, W.Va., with three affiliated dealerships in Virginia and West Virginia. In a new settlement, Billion Auto agreed to pay $360,000 in civil penalties. "We knew the FTC was looking at us last year and we thought we had done everything to comply with FTC regulations," CEO Dave Billion Sr. told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. "In our settlement there was an agreement there was no misrepresentation in the advertising, and we were not aware we have had any complaints about our advertising."
More awful "Serial" tweets. In an earlier Download, we mentioned the facepalm moment that transpired when a Best Buy tweet appeared to make light of a murder that occurred in one of the electronics dealer's parking lots. The homicide in question has been the focus of NPR's popular "Serial" podcast, and it turns out that other feckless brands have also tried to have a little fun with the #Serial hashtag. (Bert, what were you thinking?) Both Cheerios and Bert from "Sesame Street" posted tweets playing with the homonym "serial" and "cereal" — and the results weren't pretty.
Today's lesson: Don't try to make bank off hostage crises or homicides.