Breakfast Briefing, 12.4.2017: Global ad spending predictions and a historic healthcare deal

It's Monday, December 4. We're looking forward to seeing many of you today at PRWeek Awards judging in New York, and even more of you tonight at the PRWeek Hall of Fame ceremonies. Good news if you need a sugar boost to get you through the long day: it's also #NationalCookieDay.

New this morning: Magna Global has predicted that worldwide ad spending will grow by 5.2% to $532 billion next year on the back of the Olympic Winter Games, the FIFA World Cup, and the U.S. midterm elections. WPP’s Group M, meanwhile, is forecasting a more modest 4.3% bump, according to Campaign.

The weekend’s big news: CVS Health has said it intends to buy insurer Aetna in a $77 billion deal with wide-ranging implications for the U.S. healthcare industry. If approved, the acquisition could result in more services and even clinics at the 100,000 U.S. CVS locations, according to the Associated Press.

The newest guest byline on The New York Times’ op-ed page is none other than Billy Bush, who is pushing back against President Donald Trump’s reported denials that the voice on the "Access Hollywood tape" is actually his. "He said it," Bush wrote, before delving into the most famous quote from the tape.

The White House spent the weekend walking back a problematic Trump tweet that indicated the president knew Michael Flynn lied to the FBI before Trump fired the former national security adviser. Trump personal lawyer John Dowd told ABC News that he gave a draft of the message to White House social media director Dan Scavino, adding regretfully, "I’m out of the tweeting business."

Waffle House won praise from at least one tested crisis communicator for its response to a viral video of a customer making himself a meal while employees slept. The chain reached out to the customer/aspiring chef and asked him to become a Waffle House secret shopper. Vianovo’s Tucker Eskew called it "ace crisis reaction."

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