Sony shuts down campaign for 'The Interview,' Coca-Cola topples 'Idol'

In other news: SD's highway safety department takes a beating for racy ad ... Microsoft taps new ad/media boss ... Liam Neeson will endorse you on LinkedIn

Sony scuttles "The Interview" marketing. As it backs away quickly from the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy that's drawn death threats and spooked theater chains, Sony Pictures is pulling what's left of the TV campaign spend to promote "The Interview." Since most funds would have been spent in the days before the abortive Dec. 25 release, Sony can recoup some money. Nevertheless, tracking data from says Sony has spent $20.5 million on U.S. television spots alone, and that total doesn't reflect billboards and digital campaigns.

‘Idol’ worship ends for Coke. No more big cups on "American Idol"? After 13 years as one of the show’s top sponsors of "Idol" in a pioneering deal for product placement on TV programming, Coca-Cola this week announced it is exiting the program. "[W]e feel it is the right time for the Coca-Cola brand to venture into new spaces and pursue other opportunities to connect with teens and leverage music as a passion point," the Atlanta beverage company responded when asked why it was leaving the show.

South Dakota yanks racy safety campaign. What activity that young men do with their hands doesn’t belong in public? Jerking the steering wheel on icy roads, of course. At least that was the ostensible message from South Dakota’s office of Highway Safety, which released a "Don’t Jerk and Drive" ad campaign, complete with a matching hashtag. The sassy double entendre was too much for the good people of Iowa — or at least the state legislature’s transportation committee. "I decided to pull the ad," said Trevor Jones, secretary of the Department of Public Safety. "This is an important safety message, and I don't want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road." Yes, he said "pull."

Microsoft puts Kathleen Hall at helm of ad business. Microsoft has named Kathleen Hall to head its global advertising and media business as corporate vice president. The new position combines the advertising and media business. "I spent half my career in media and half my career in creative, so I know the benefits of bringing [them] together," Hall said.  

Liam Neeson will hype your skills to LinkedIn. In the "Taken" movie franchise, Liam Neeson plays a retired covert operative whose "particular set of skills" leave bodies in his wake. And where better to tout skills than on LinkedIn? To promote the third installment of "Taken," 20th Century Fox is running a contest; through Dec. 23, entrants can vie for a celebrity LinkedIn endorsement by no lesser light than Mr. Neeson himself.

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