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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 3 minutes

New York’s Problems Are America’s Problems Now“Most cities are the same animal at a different scale,” Esteban Moro, a physicist who studies cities and measured New Yorkers’ interactions during the shutdown, told me. Bigger city, smaller city—it doesn’t make much of a difference, Moro says. You’ll meet about 5,000 people a year.

Apple wants your iPhone to replace your passport and driver’s license | Appleinsider – I know WeChat had similar aspirations for Chinese ID cards and drivers licence

Opinion | How China Scammed Hong Kong – The New York Times – ignore the click bait title, it’s a nice summary of the national security law and points out how the basic law allowed this gap. More on Hong Kong here.

American firms’ move into China over past 20 years threatens US ability to lead and compete: report | South China Morning PostUS MNEs’ reliance on China as a source of sales and a pivotal hub for global manufacturing poses a risk of solidifying dependencies for selected industries that bear on US national security. Furthermore, such reliance threatens to heighten the cost of supply chain diversification

Pressured by China, E.U. Softens Report on Covid-19 Disinformation – The New York TimesBeijing’s efforts to curtail mentions of the virus’s origins in China, in part by blaming the United States for spreading the disease internationally. It noted that Beijing had criticized France as slow to respond to the pandemic and had pushed false accusations that French politicians used racist slurs against the head of the World Health Organization

The Hustle on Coupang – a Korean analogue to Amazon that’s expanding their business

LinkedIn | Baiba Matisone – 60 behavioral biases to better understand the consumers.

US Attorney General William Barr says American businesses ‘part of problem’ in tech war with China | South China Morning PostBarr portrayed parts of the US business community as ingrates because “they’re willing – ultimately, many of them – to sacrifice the long-term viability of their companies for short-term profit, so they can get their stock options and move into the golf resort”. – I found this a much more profound statement on so many levels

Typography – Goldman Sachs Design – Goldman Sachs put out its own font under a fairly permissive licence

How This Electronics Juggernaut Got Its Start in a Bombed-Out Department Store • Gear Patrol – nice intro to the history of Sony

How a Billion Dollar Eyewear Company Started in the Back of a Honda Civic • Gear Patrol – ‘define problems, find solutions, wrap them in art’

Facebook executive admits to ‘trust deficit’ on call with advertisers | Financial Times – stating the obvious, with Trump-related decisions is just latest in long line of trust related issues for Facebook from brand safety issues with content to analytics

Dove Soap’s Owner Is Criticized Over Skin-Lightening Cream – WSJ – unfortunately a set of consumers want the product and if Unilever didn’t sell it other people would

I love you. You love me. | Ad Ageds – well worth while reading as it brings commitment into focus

Step Chickens and the Rise of TikTok ‘Cults’ – The New York TimesCults on TikTok aren’t the ideological ones most people are familiar with. Instead, they are open fandoms revolving around a single creator. Much like the “stans” of pop figures and franchises, members of TikTok cults stream songs, buy merch, create news update accounts and fervently defend their leaders in the comment sections of posts. The biggest difference is that TikTok’s cult leaders are not independently famous. They’re upstart creators building a fan base on social media. Ms. Ong represents a relatively new kind of influencer, one who has seized a time of great isolation and idleness to capture the interest of a rapt user base. “I made this video where I was speaking into my phone camera like, ‘Hey guys I think we should start a religion,’” she said in a phone interview on Friday. “Then, I was like, ‘Let’s start a cult.’”

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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I didn’t want to talk about space aliens. Given that some people are currently beating up on network engineers and destroying 5G network infrastructure, this art project about space aliens and electro-magnetic radiation might be considered to be a bit close to the bone. Space Aliens are no longer visiting Earth due to an allergy to our cell phones – the storytelling neatly taps neatly into the cold war and X-Files peak of alien abduction and combines it with ambient music.

Keep It Real Online is a great campaign by the New Zealand government highlighting the risk and appropriate action parents can take regarding online behaviour.

Keep It Real Online – New Zealand government

YouTube channel Awkward Puppets has become active again over the past couple of months. Imagine if Sesame Street characters grew into awkward post-modern adults.

Maybelline Launches ‘Spread Good Vibes’ COVID-19 Campaign in Thailand Branding in Asia | Branding Asia Magazine – a lovely bit of insight: that make-up and mutual social affirmation ‘good vibes’ will do wonders for how we feel during COVID-19. It also taps into Thai women’s love of beauty products. The execution was nicely done using augmented reality. The campaign was done by MRM for Maybelline-Thailand. More Thai-related posts.

Maybelline-Thailand-Spread-Good-Vibes-Branding-in-Asia
Maybelline-Thailand

Ali Goldsworthy was on BBC Radio 4: Four Thought. She explained why campaigns which succeed by polarising people can cause long-term harm, and suggests ways we might tackle the resulting damage.