Movers & Shakers: Ford, Amazon, Twitter, General Motors, Netflix, Wyndham and more

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

Agency news

Iovate Health Sciences, owner of Six Star Pro Nutrition, selected Opinionated as its creative agency of record.

On the move

Ford Motor Co. U.S. and Canada sales VP Mark LaNeve has left the company. He will be succeeded by 25-year Ford vet Andrew Frick.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has retired as chairman of The New York Times. He will be succeeded by his son and The New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger.

NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino was named chair of the Ad Council’s Board of Directors, succeeding Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer. 

Former Viacom CFO Wade Davis became CEO of Univision after his investment group, ForgeLight, acquired a majority stake in the company.

Viral Nation appointed DDB Canada vet Jacqui Faclier to the new role of EVP, general manager.

Hill Holliday CCO Lance Jensen departed the Boston-based agency after a decade on the job.

Data Axl brought on Neelika Choudhury, Hossam Bahlool and Vishal Bhasin as senior VPs.

In the Media

Amazon acquired podcast company Wondery for $300 million, bolstering its content catalogue in the space.

Quibi is in talks to sell its content catalogue to Roku after the short-form video platform shut down in October.

CBS postponed the Grammy Awards until March as L.A. reels from a COVID-19 spike. The ceremony was originally scheduled to air on Jan. 31. 

Discovery's new streaming service, Discovery+, launched on multiple platforms including Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

ViacomCBS inked a multi-year distribution deal with Hulu+ Live TV to add channels including Comedy Central, MTV and Showtime to the service.

"Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical," inspired by the platform  trend, sold more than $1 million in tickets following a New Year’s Day online stream. A portion of the proceeds were donated to a charity that supports entertainment workers affected by the pandemic.

Streaming services are expected to close out the year with 50 percent more U.S. subscribers overall, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bridgerton, Netflix’s new period drama from Shonda Rhimes, has been viewed by 63 million households in the four weeks that it’s been on the platform. Forty-four million households watched the Spy Kids spinoff We Can Be Heroes during the same period.

Wyndham Destinations acquired Travel + Leisure from Meredith, and will change its name to Travel + Leisure Co.

Down in D.C.

Ad spend targeting Georgia voters in the two months leading up to the Senate runoff race reached nearly $500 million, according to Ad Impact. 

Facebook will reinstate its political ad ban, lifted Dec. 16, in Georgia following pressure from both Democrats and Republicans. 

For the first time ever Google employees and contractors have unionized.

Google will add privacy labels to its iOS apps, which  require developers to disclose how they collect data to track users.

Tech download

Twitter acquired podcasting platform Breaker to build out its new Spaces feature.

Google and Snap are in talks to invest $200 million in popular Indian social networking app ShareChat, in a round valuing the app at more than $1 billion.

LG acquired a controlling stake in TV measurement firm Alphonso for $80 million and will integrate the platform with its Smart TVs.

Google is testing a search new feature that will pull in Instagram and TikTok videos in their own carousels on its mobile app.

Brand Buzz

Procter & Gamble dropped plans to acquire DTC razor startup Billie after FTC filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the merger would eliminate competition in the market.

Mondelez International Inc. bought paleo chocolate bar maker Hu Master Holdings, which it took a minority stake in 2019. 

Pfizer is out with a new helix shaped logo to promote the pharma giant’s shift to creating prescription drugs and vaccines. And Kia has a new logo that moves away from block letters to a flowing script. 

Macy’s will close 45 more stores this year, including its flagship location on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, after more than a 20% quarterly decline

U.S. auto sales are spiking again after car purchases slowed during the pandemic. General Motors fourth quarter sales rose 4.9%, And Toyota and Fiat Chrysler also reported an increase.

Budweiser is out with a new campaign to support consumers observing through Dry January and to introduce its new alcohol free beer, Budweiser Zero.

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