Thursday Wake-Up Call: Walmart vs. Amazon. Plus, what Crock-Pot can teach you about crisis management

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: A new study looks at gender parity in advertising from a new angle by examining how many brand mascots are male. Just about it: There’s Mr. Clean and Mr. Peanut, the Michelin Man and the Pillsbury Doughboy. It’s harder to think of the women (besides, say, the pigtailed lass of Wendy’s and the Chiquita banana lady with the basket of fruit on her head.) According to the study by the The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “male mascots outnumber female mascots two-to-one.” The report also looks at how mascots fuel racial stereotypes, too. As Ad Age staffers write in this week’s Marketer’s Brief, “the study was done in partnership with the The Jel Sert Company, whose Otter Pops brand recently added three new female otter mascots to achieve gender parity.” As Jezebel writes, “Could it be that the calls for diversity in popsicles were finally being heard?”

Walmart vs. Amazon

Walmart, trying to battle Amazon on many fronts, just offered up $16 billion for a majority stake in India’s e-commerce giant, Flipkart. Flipkart is the biggest e-commerce company in India, though Amazon is a strong player there too. Walmart surely sees the untapped potential in a country where only 5 to 10 percent of people have ever bought something online, a figure noted by The Economist. But investors were skeptical about Walmart’s move, especially given the pricetag. India’s e-commerce market hasn’t fulfilled early expectations and “as a whole is worth a puny $15bn or so, compared with nearly $500bn in America and double that in China,” as The Economist writes. Plus, Walmart seems constantly to be making incursions into Amazon territory, such as by buying Jet.com. Scott Mushkin, a retail analyst at Wolfe Research, told The New York Times that Walmart seems “to be somewhat Amazon obsessed.”

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