Droga5 opens in Japan, and the chicken sandwich wars heat up again: Wednesday Wake-Up Call

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you’re reading this online or in a forwarded email, here’s the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters. Tokyo trailblazers

Two years on from its acquisition by Accenture Interactive, Droga5 is expanding its global footprint once again. Ad Age’s Brian Bonilla reports that the creative shop, awarded as Ad Age’s Agency of the Decade last year, is opening an office in Tokyo, with plans to add others in China and Brazil within the next 12 months.

Tokyo marks the third location for the agency, after New York and London, although it closed its former Sydney office in 2015. Founder and Creative Chairman David Droga tells Bonilla: “Japan is unlike anywhere else from a creative perspective and Accenture Interactive is the largest digital agency in Japan. You take that superpower and our unrelenting ambition, and a belief system about creativity, and I’d love to see what we can do in a market like that.”

The Tokyo office’s leadership team includes Chief Creative Officer Masaya Asai, most recently global creative director for TBWA/Hakuhodo; General Manager Chris Burgess, who most recently served as Droga5’s business lead for Chase and Allstate; and Head of Strategy Dan Ng, who served as a group strategy director for the agency since 2016.Game of chicken

Get ready for even more chicken sandwich marketing. As more competitors join the flock, the “chicken sandwich wars” are heating up once again, reports Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl, and things are getting unorthodox.

The likes of Burger King, Taco Bell and Carl’s Jr. are turning to ever more creative marketing tactics to make their offerings stand out; for example, Taco Bell released a “mockumentary” featuring philosophers obsessing over fried chicken sandwiches to promote the return of its Naked Chicken Chalupa, while Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s posted “suggestive videos” on its “Hot & Hand-Breaded” OnlyFans channel.

Chicago chain Portillo’s is using Cameo videos from celebrities including Brian Baumgartner, Cedric The Entertainer and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi to hype its spicy chicken sandwich. Meanwhile Burger King opted for a buy-one-get-one-free offer to promote its Ch’King, giving away a Whopper with each chicken sandwich order to let people decide which one they prefer.

But not everyone is into real chicken sandwiches; the plant-based meat industry is also booming. Daring Foods yesterday said it has raised $40 million from investors—including entertainer Drake—after debuting its plant-based chicken last year. Feathers could fly.Come on, Cannes

With just a month to go until virtual Cannes Lions, the Festival has become embroiled in a row over diversity. Abraham Abbi Asefaw, former co-dean of Cannes’ learning program the Roger Hatchuel Academy, accused the Festival in a Twitter thread detailing how it removed him from his role, “making the list of Deans ALL WHITE.” Asefaw also described his efforts to help the organization with its diversity program and said the next generation of creatives in the learning academy would now be lacking representation.

After his comments on Twitter began to attract attention on Monday, with some using the hashtag #comeoncannes, Cannes Lions responded to his comments on social media, issuing a public apology and describing the accusations as “a particularly disappointing moment for us at Lions.”An ‘unplanned’ upfront

The TV upfronts continue, and yesterday saw Discovery CEO David Zaslav open the company’s upfront presentation with an unplanned part of the original programming, addressing its deal with AT&T. Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports that Zaslav, who will lead the newly combined company, remarked that “this part of the upfront presentation was not planned” as he addressed the elephant in the room, but didn’t reveal any tangible details.

Other notable highlights of the second day included Disney calling on advertisers to prioritize multicultural commitments in their upfront deals. For all the latest on the upfronts, take a look at Poggi’s special report. And don’t miss the Ad Age In-Depth: TV Pivot virtual event on May 24 and 25; it’s your last chance to sign up.Just briefly

Criminal element: The New York attorney general’s office’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s business now has a criminal component, a spokesman told CNN Tuesday night. Until now, the investigation had centered on civil fraud.

Home truths: Anti-smoking group The Truth Initiative has tapped Mojo Supermarket as its creative partner and agency of record, moving from 72andSunny, which held the account for seven years, writes Ad Age’s Brian Bonilla.

The fab 40: Ad Age is now taking submissions for this year’s 40 under 40 list. The annual program recognizes talented trailblazers in media and marketing. Enter today at AdAge.com/40u40.

‘All investors’: Christina Smedley, chief marketing officer at Robinhood, is the guest on the latest episode of the “Marketer’s Brief” podcast. Smedley talks to Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli about the brand’s new ad campaign, “We are all investors,” featuring real-life users, as well as that GameStop frenzy. 

Pubic relations: The latest ad to address taboos around bodily functions comes from Gillette, which is encouraging consumers to “say pubic” in a spot for its Venus razor. The centerpiece of the campaign from Grey is an animated film starring a singing pubic hair, writes Creativity editor Ann-Christine Diaz. Lyrics include the line “I’m just a pube and it’s not fair.”That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well.

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