Movers & Shakers: Amazon, Disney+, Google, McDonald’s, Hyundai and more

This week’s agency news, people on the move, tech and media must-reads.

Agency news

Credera, a global boutique consulting firm owned by Omnicom , is expanding to Los Angeles.. 

Melbourne-based agency financial management platform Accountability has expanded into the U.S. under new president Judd Rubin.

Mering has been appointed Visit SLO CAL’s  agency of record for brand strategy and development, media and creative. 

McKinney has been named Stop & Shop’s agency of record to handle advertising, strategy consulting, creative campaign development and production.

Grove Collaborative selected Camp + King as its agency of record.

Communications holding group MTM Choice acquired Syndicate X Design, which  will merge with Sub Rosa and be led by Syndicate X’s founder and CEO, Hunter Tura.

Indie agency FIG added new partners including former PHD chief data officer Federick Stallings, Droga5 strategy lead Ramon Jimenez, and Kristen King.

The Ad Council raised $37 million toward a $50 million effort for a vaccine confidence campaign from  donors including Bank of America, Google and YouTube and agencies Pereira O'Dell and Omnicom's Alma DDB and Dentsu Health. 

On the move

Ogilvy appointed James Kinney as global chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer and chief people officer for North America, and McCann Worldgroup promoted chief diversity and engagement officer Singleton Beato to the new role of global EVP, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. 

Bed Bath & Beyond appointed two new marketing leaders: ex-Target exec Kristi Argyilan as SVP, brand innovation and Jim Reath as SVP of marketing.

Ricky Strauss left Disney after nine years at the company, most recently as president of programming and content curation at Disney+. Joe Earley will take over his role. 

Univision tapped Donna Speciale, formerly Turner networks' ad sales boss, as president of ad sales and marketing.

Facebook appointed former Obama official Roy Austin Jr. as vice president of civil rights to help curb toxic speech and racism on the social media platform.

Harte Hanks named agency exec Joyce Karel as the company’s first chief commercial officer

Anchor Worldwide tapped two associate creative directors: Aria McManus (art) and Lawrence Wang (copy).

Bounteous, a digital transformation agency, announced it has named Melinda Ramos as VP of learning & diversity.

Digilant welcomed Katie Gargano as product marketing manager, a new role for the company, and Matt Mahgerefteh as manager of analytics. 

Engine Digital has appointed Mike Kingsborough as design director. 

Perry Fair has been named to the brand-new role of EVP, global ECD, director of entertainment, for McCann New York.

Warner Bros. named former Universal Pictures exec Josh Goldstine as its new president of worldwide marketing. 

Podean tapped Merkle’s Amazon and eRetail lead Danielle Waller for a new role, global head of media.

Alkemy X named Victoria Venantini as VP of business development,  overseeing Alkemy X’s animation and design work. 

GoFundMe hired former global head of marketing for Airbnb Experiences Musa Tariq as its new chief marketing officer.

Qubit promoted Tracey Ryan O’Connor to chief revenue officer.

Doner tapped Julio Desir as SVP, group creative director, Johana Olivera, VP brand leader, and Christina Gay, VP, finance director.

Gannett tapped Spencer Mandell for the new  role of executive creative director, to shift iconic news brands such as USA TODAY, Indy Star, Cincinnati Enquirer into subscription-led pubs. 

Former Wieden + Kennedy exec Nicole Brandell joined FCB as chief strategy officer in Chicago. 

Next Glass, which makes software for the alcoholic beverage industry, hired Tisha Hulbur as the company’s first ever CMO,.

Critical Mass promoted Andrea Lennon and Sara Anhorn to president and chief talent officer, respectively.

Kinesso, tapped Tracy Young Lincoln for the newly created role of chief client officer. 

In the Media

Ulta Beauty launched a retail media network and is working with Epsilon to pitch co-branded programmatic ads to run on Facebook, YouTube and ad networks.

Struum, a new streaming platform from former Disney and Discovery execs, will provide access to dozens of small providers for one subscription fee.

Charter Communications, Qurate Retail and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management will invest in struggling measurement firm Comscore. 

Vevo struck a deal with Comcast to share its catalogue on Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex.

BuzzFeed is in talks to go public via a SPAC. 

Deezer Brand Solutions, the ad-sales arm of music streaming service Deezer, has launched sponsored editorial playlists where brands can curate playlists for subscribers.

Disney+ surpassed Netflix as the most downloaded entertainment video-on-demand app in the U.S. in 2020, reaching 45.2 million downloads compared to Netflix’s 44.7 million, according to Apptopia.

Downloads have increased for messaging apps such as Rumble, MeWe, CloutHub and Telegram that are aimed at conservative users and securely encrypted, following the Capitol’s insurrection, according to Axios. 

Last year, OZY brought in $50 million in revenue marking the first time that the media company has hit profitability in its seven-year history.

Univision will launch an ad-supported, free streaming service, PrendeTV for the Hispanic market.

AT&T is shutting down its streaming service AT&T Now and merging it with AT&T TV.

Down in D.C.

As the fallout from last week’s insurrection at the capital continues, right-wing social platform Parler, which was used to plan the attacks, is suing Amazon on antitrust grounds for banning the app from its servers.  

After indefinitely banning Trump from its platforms, Facebook said it would also remove all content mentioning “Stop the Steal” in reference to unfound claims of election fraud. 

Former Facebook director of product management Rob Leathern has moved to Google as VP of product, privacy and data protection. 

Google’s latest antitrust challenge comes from Rumble, a conservative leaning YouTube competitor, which accused the company of abusing its monopoly power in search and mobile. 

Outgoing President Trump signed an executive order banning transactions on eight Chinese apps including Tencent-owned Alipay

Consumentenbond, a Dutch consumer advocacy group, is suing the country’s privacy regulator for taking more than two years to take action on a privacy complaint against Google, arguing there are flaws to the EU’s system for handling data privacy cases.  

Tech download

Twitter acquired Uneo, a full-service creative agency that it will bring in-house to work alongside its design and research teams. 

IAS, a digital ad verification company, acquired Amino Payments, a provider of programmatic advertising transparency.

Amazon Marketing Cloud, which is what the e-commerce giant is calling its data clean room for privacy compliant measurement, entered advanced beta testing. 

Open AP launched a supply-side platform to further automate linear TV buying. 

Yelp will now allow business pages to show whether people social distance and wear masks at their establishments. 

DoubleVerify made its “brand suitability tiers,” which allows advertisers and publishers to customize their brand safety controls, generally available. 

Mailchimp bought B2B text messaging startup Chatitive, Verve Group acquired Nexstar’s digital video ad tech platform, formerly known as LKQD and Ironsource bought ad measurement firm Soomla.  

LoopMe and Unity Ads launched a partnership that will make advanced creative campaigns available through the LoopMe marketplace.

Brand Buzz

The fried chicken wars are back on. KFC and McDonald’s are the latest fast food giants to introduce fried chicken sandwiches to their menus..

Lunchables introduced Leave It to Lunchables, a loyalty program that allows moms to earn rewards like money for coffee runs, school supplies and movie rentals. Moms can also enter for the chance to win $10,000 in free groceries and delivery for an entire year

Countdown to Game Day

Super Bowl 2020 generated $450 million in ad revenue, $100 million more than 2019, driven by average cost of a 30-second in-game ad rising  9% from five years ago a, according to KANTAR.

Truist has announced it will be an official retail bank of the NFL.

Hyundai won’t advertise at the Super Bowl this year, making it the most high-profile brand to end its multi-year Super Bowl streak. But Frito-Lay will return with a Super Bowl commercial for Cheetos and Doritos. Fiverr, Vroom and Scotts Miracle-Gro will run their first Super Bowl ads this year.

Rocket Mortgage Super Bowl Squares Sweepstakes is returning for Super Bowl LV. Two grand prize winners will receive a $500,000 prize that can go toward a home. $50,000 will also be awarded to a participant at every score change in the game.

On D&I

YouTube is using $100 million from its #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund to create a global grant program for Black creators.

The Richards Group has partnered with Do What Matters, a strategic management consultancy, to implement its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, after the company lost major clients this year after founder Stan Richards made racist comments..

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, the co-editors of the visual anthonology "Black Futures," are taking over Facebook’s Lift Black Voices as the first ever guest curators, for three weeks beginning Jan. 11.

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