Things that caught my eye this week

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Burger King’s Autopilot Whopper campaign reminds me of a lot of the classic work that Crispin Porter Bogusky have done for Burger King over the years. The Autopilot Whopper is based on the insight that Tesla cars machine learning powered vision system that helps with self driving function mistakes the Burger King logo for a Stop sign.

Autopilot Whopper entertaining with this schadenfreude around Tesla technology. And it also lands the message that the Burger King drive through is as good a place to stop as any.

YouTube announced the winners of its 2020 YouTube Works awards. I would strongly recommend that any brand planners bookmark this in their browser and dip in on a regular basis.

The one that really piqued my interest the most was Hulu’s campaign for live sports that tapped into a growing consumer cynicism around influencers. The sports linkage was using NBA basketball players as the influencers.

The iconic Zero Halliburton briefcase stuffed with cash, that more money is thrown into as ‘Hulu has live sports’ is mentioned riffs on the old McDonald’s initiative. The McDonald’s scheme that paid rappers for name checks on songs and mixtapes. It also tapped into how consumers view influencers.

Public Enemy came back when we most need them. Flavor Flav seems to have patched up his beef with Chuck D. Public Enemy have partnered with DJ Premier to capture the zeitgeist. Black Lives Matter, COVID19 and chaotic leadership feature in State Of The Union (STFU). DJ Premier’s product references earlier Public Enemy works scratching in sounds of early Public Enemy vocals in this track. The beat is more laid back than what one would expect from the Bomb Squad production team. But the Public Enemy fire in the belly is still there.

The step chickens are a meme driven ‘cult’ that have sprung up on TikTok. More accurately they are a directed community. Here’s the founder on how they came about. Their heat has been parleyed in a community for a new app. From a product point-of-view, this means that something like TikTok could lose chunks of its user base IF the step chickens phenomenon was widely and successfully replicated. Given that it was a mix of smarts, happenstance and pure luck it isn’t likely: sorry brands.

German China-focused think-tank MERICS had a thoughtful presentation put together on the Hong Kong national security law. The presentation focused on the impact for the financial services sector. But there similar lessons to be drawn for professional services (accounting, management consultancy, legal firms). And only for a a slightly lesser effect on the strategy and planning functions of creative agencies, or counsel based PR functions.

On reflection, I would be concerned about how some of the creative briefs for China-focused campaigns that I have written would have faired against the Hong Kong national security law. Probably not that well.

What immediately becomes apparent is the implications for quality research into companies and economics won’t meet international standards. Which means more fodder for the likes of Muddy Waters Research LLC. It likely indicates a conscious effort for China to decouple from the international financial system.

The calculus behind the Hong Kong national security law seems to be that the Chinese government think yet another (internal) market for Chinese stocks will be a better deal than the traditional gateway to and from China Hong Kong has provided. I am not sure what this bet will mean. Shenzhen already has a robust stock market by Chinese standards; would China really need Hong Kong? Without the gateway role, Hong Kong would also find it harder to be the point of capital departure from China for high net worth citizens. Dampening capital flight would definitely hold some attraction to the Xi administration.