Tech Giants Face Antitrust Showdown; The Strange Story of Big Boy: Wednesday’s First Things First

Plus, 5 legal considerations for making ads remotely

four tech CEOs in front of the capitol
From left: Jeff Bezos, Amazon; Sundar Pichai, Google; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook; and Tim Cook, Apple. Pixabay, Getty Images, Apple
Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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Tech’s Top Executives Prep for Antitrust Showdown

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai are set to go before the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee on July 27 as part of an ongoing investigation into the companies’ collective dominance of the U.S. digital advertising market, among other concerns around competition in the sector.

Google, Facebook and Amazon together are forecast to account for 62.3% of digital ad spend this year. The testimony accompanies the expectation that the Justice Department and multiple states will move forward with antitrust crackdowns against Google in the coming weeks. Apple is a much smaller player in the ad game, but the probe will address the fact that the company’s upcoming privacy update could do serious damage to the in-app mobile ad market (its impact could be greater than CCPA or GDPR).

Explore: Inside the case against Google and Facebook.

TikTok Pulls Out of Hong Kong Over National Security Law

In response to a new national security law that threatens freedom of expression, TikTok is pulling out of app marketplaces in Hong Kong. The law criminalizes “subversion” of the Chinese government and gives police the power to take down online posts and punish companies that won’t comply with data requests. TikTok’s move follows Facebook, WhatsApp and messaging service Telegram saying they will no longer respond to Hong Kong authorities‘ requests for user data until an international consensus is reached about the law.

But TikTok faces scrutiny of its own: India has banned the app, and in the U.S., it’s under a national security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment, and a pending Senate bill could prohibit the app from all federal government devices. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration is considering banning the app completely.

A national security threat? The app’s proximity to the government of China has the world on edge.

The Long, Strange Story of Big Boy, the Latest Mascot to Lose a Job

big boy

Quick-service chain Big Boy has put its mascot, Big Boy, on indefinite hiatus, replacing him with a blond girl character named Dolly who has appeared as a side character in previous promotions and will promote the brand’s chicken sandwich. Big Boy’s departure is one of several recent mascot retirements, but the chain says it has nothing to do with the others, which include Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben and were motivated by the mascots’ racist roots.

Big Boy says the move is intended to generate buzz and attention as customers return from lockdown—but is there more to it? Although the brand hasn’t said so, it’s clear that the Big Boy mascot is from a time before body positivity, and Big Boy himself is based on the heavy-set younger brother of the founder’s business partner. And over the years, as the mascot has been revised, Big Boy has grown thinner, showing that corporate is conscious of the American obesity crisis.

But is it a mistake? The chain is still called Big Boy, but now its mascot will be neither big nor a boy.

How to Stay Legally Compliant in an Altered Age of Advertising Production

Plenty of brands and agencies have had to get creative when creating ads in quarantine, often leveraging content libraries and shooting in unique ways and spaces (like TD Bank remaking its popular dancing teller spot). But if you’re going to work outside the usual processes, you have to make sure you’re following the rules, including those around social distancing, the regulations around the safety of talent and rights to visual assets and digital manipulation of preexisting content. Fortunately, attorney Ronald Urbach outlined five of the most important legal considerations for this new production world.

Here’s what you need to think about: “Avoiding the problems of advertising creation amid Covid-19 is possible only if the path chosen provides an effective creative and business solution with fewer, not more, legal risks.”

4 Campaigns That Show the Potential of Augmented Reality Right Now

Joachim Scholz, who is a marketing professor at Brock University and a member of the Adweek Academic Council, says that augmented reality is having a moment right now—and advertisers shouldn’t miss out. “AR directly plays into consumer fantasies and excitement, and that’s what marketing is all about,” he writes in a new Voice piece. Amid the pandemic, the emotional connections, trust and excitement AR can generate is more important than ever for building brands.

Unlimited potential: To demonstrate, he cites four recent campaigns from Budweiser, Adidas, Tim Hortons and United Way that have cleverly incorporated AR to create immersive and powerful experiences and stories.

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Starburst’s First Vertical-Only Ad Campaign Accentuates Its Latest Product

“Best Enjoyed Vertically,” a new Starburst campaign from DDB Chicago, cleverly ties the product to its vertical format. In the ad, people in a hair salon eat “vertical” Starburst Swirlers in a landscape that’s been rotated 90 degrees. Watch the spot and check out a behind-the-scenes video showing how it was envisioned and made here.

@JessZafarris Jess Zafarris is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.