‘Me Too’ brings measurable progress for women, and a surprise about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos: Thursday 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.Measuring a movement

Three-and-a-half years after the resurgence of the Me Too movement, it’s hard to determine how much has actually changed for women. But two new studies indicate that, at least in Hollywood, there’s been a marked improvement, the Harvard Business Review reports.

Hong Luo and Laurina Zhang, professors at Harvard Business School and Boston University, respectively, analyzed data from 4,000 movie projects from before and after the Me Too revelations about Harvey Weinstein in Oct. 2017 and found that producers affected by Me Too hired 40% more women writers than before. They note the increase was due mainly, though not entirely, to teams that already included women, presumably because those women were now empowered to hire other women without fear of being chastised.

At the same time, all-male production teams didn’t decrease the number of women they hired, so doomsday predictions of men being afraid to work with women appear overblown. Women writers also branched out beyond romance and drama to more lucrative categories like sci-fi and action, suggesting new career opportunities opened up for them post Me Too.To mask or not to mask

Many Americans are confused about how to handle the CDC’s masking guidelines. How does one distinguish the maskless and vaccinated from the maskless and irate? Businesses are confronting that conundrum head on.

“It’s a tightrope many brands have gotten used to walking as they navigate the ever-changing guidelines around the pandemic,” writes Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli. “A new Stop & Shop campaign released this week was created with flexibility in mind. The supermarket chain released two spots—for each one, there is a version with customers in stores wearing masks and a version of without masks.”

In-store, the chain is defaulting its policy on masking to match local ordinances. But Target is dropping its mask requirement for both customers and employees. Expect plenty of confusion as guidelines continue to change in response to legal requirements and internet backlash comes from both sides of the issue.Hot topic

One of the industry’s most enduring feel-good stories is apparently an urban legend. An in-depth investigation by the Los Angeles Times reveals that Richard Montañez did not, in fact, invent Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. His story of concocting the spicy flavoring while working as a janitor at Frito-Lay is at best an embellishment. The product was already on test shelves in the Midwest—not California—when he claims to have had the idea for it.

And Frito-Lay has known for a while that his version of events isn’t accurate. It conducted an investigation of its own and concluded that Montañez had nothing to do with the creation of the cult favorite snack. Still, his story of rising through the ranks on gumption and initiative (thanks in no small part to execs who were willing to give him a shot) is a good one for company PR.

It was nice to think that a low-level Hispanic worker could succeed on the strength of a bright idea—in corporate American in the ‘80s, no less. But perhaps that’s why the myth was so easy to believe. If a janitor has a shot, don’t we all?You watched the upfront presentations, now find out what it means to you. Join Ad Age on Monday and Tuesday for our virtual TV Pivot event. RSVP at AdAge.com/TVPivot.Tread lightly

Peloton is out with a software fix for its recalled treadmills, NBC reports. Now the belt will shut off automatically when not in use. More than 70 people reported injuries, including broken bones and the death of one child. After initially balking at the recall recommendation, the company apologized for its reticence and complied.

The fix is likely to save Peloton millions of dollars in refunds. The cult of Peloton is certainly strong enough that many people will want to keep their treadmills, rather than return them for a full refund. The company will also cover the cost of moving the treadmill into a room with a locked door to keep it away from children and pets. (It’s unlikely that includes the cost of renting a place with an extra room just for exercise equipment. Sorry, New Yorkers.)Just briefly

Getting in touch: In a move that greatly expands accessibility options at the world’s largest coffee chain, Starbucks has released braille and large-print menus in all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada. It announced the initiative in March and has since printed 35,000 menus, produced by National Braille Press. Previously, braille menus with a limited selection of drinks had been available at some locations. The company incorporated feedback from customers to redesign and expand them.

Explore no more: After 25 years, Microsoft is retiring Internet Explorer, the Verge reports. Long the butt of jokes about slow load times, pop-ups, ad toolbars and security breaches, this looks like the end of the ubiquitous program, which should finally stop being bundled into Windows.

Freak on a quiche: “Mindfreak” magician Criss Angel is turning a restaurant 65 miles outside of Las Vegas into a branded eatery, CABLP, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Pronounced “ca-BLIP,” it stands for Criss Angel’s Breakfast, Lunch and Pizza. Entrees include the Mindfreak burger with barbecue sauce and onion rings, Grandma style pizza and “magically smoking” cocktails. But in addition to the restaurant, Angel is also working with a federally-funded program to employ local teens and young people.That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage. 

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