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Out of Scope: Issue 04
This week’s non-required thinking on reputation, business, and culture
This week, we peer into the mysteries of space, wonder whether COVID has ruined company trust, do a double-take at a brand famous for its double bacon cheeseburgers, and ask what future there might be for the once humble highlight.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
Wendy’s continues to win at social, as they confuse the hell out of us with the @DefNotWendys Twitter handle.
Defector, the sports media publication launched by the former Deadspin team, is succeeding (unsurprisingly) by not “sticking to sports”.
The c-suite’s biggest comms challenge of 2021? Encouraging vaccination.
Jeep is now facing the same question that sports teams have been circling for the past several years - names and cultural appropriation. The Chief of Cherokee Nation himself says 'It's Time' for Jeep to stop using his tribe’s name.
What’s in a meme? For Nyan Cat, apparently, it was nearly $600,000 of pure bragging rights. A crypto art rendition of the 10-year-old meme of a cat with the body of a pop tart and a trail of rainbows was auctioned off this week, leaving buyer “oxy7eb2...3f6b” as the sole owner of the piece. But really, doesn’t Nyan Cat belong to us all?
Are company reputations headed for a burnout bust? High-performing employees and company leadership are buckling under a year of extended workdays, non-existent boundaries between work and life, and Zoom fatigue. What will companies have to do to regain their good standing with their best employees?
Costco raised its minimum wage this week to $16 an hour, besting key rivals including Amazon, Target, and Best Buy and raising the bar for corporate America. The retail giant has consistently been in front of the competition when it comes to all things COVID-19, also being among the first to implement a mandatory mask policy back in May. There’s a line to draw between Costco’s willingness to push the envelope from a brand strategy and communications standpoint and their stellar 2020, upping their e-commerce sales by 50%.
We finally opted to switch to Slack this week, and with that comes the inevitable custom emoji. Our favorite? The party parrot. Uploading the dancing little bird got us thinking - where did he come from?
🏆 REPUTATION FAIL OF THE WEEK: Reply All
In an ironic twist, Reply All’s sizzling series on Bon Appetit’s apparent racism in The Test Kitchen is being discontinued as questionable behavior on their own team has come to light.
A bit of background: last year, Bon Appetit’s popular series, Test Kitchen, faced major criticism as multiple former staffers and chefs of color detailed years of underpayment, lack of recognition, and an overall sense of being sidelined while their white counterparts took on starring roles.
When Gimlet’s Reply All released the first two episodes of what promised to be an ambitious history of the BA Test Kitchen drama, former staffer Eric Eddings came out with his own story of a toxic workplace environment. Two of the Longtime Reply All host Alex Goldman issued an apology in the podcast feed, calling the series publication a “systemic editorial failure.”
In the end, it’s important to recognize that any skeletons in your own closet are up for grabs when calling out the failures of others. And so, we are graced with yet another Notes app apology.
💡ON OUR MINDS
THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS 🏀
More than $100M in transactions were made last week trading and collecting NBA-licensed video highlights.
Users buy highlights by participating in blockchain-based “pack drops.” But the moments aren't cryptocurrency, they’re non-fungible tokens (NFT). A LeBron dunk set the record at selling for more than $200,000.
The NBA has long been a pioneer in the intersection of sports and technology, meeting a generation of fans that are a bit younger and more digital-centric.
How long until Nike sponsors a Cristiano Ronaldo pack drop? Will there be a futures market in highlights at the start of every new season?
APART FROM LIFE, WHAT ELSE ARE NATIONS LOOKING FOR ON MARS? 🚀
The push to Mars in recent years is no doubt getting a boost from the same forces that led the US to beat the Soviets to land on the moon in the 1960s: a wholly terrestrial struggle for power and international standing.
Let’s not forget that our former brand manager in chief tried to give the US a boost through the still-largely-notional Space Force, whose logo might or might not be trying to draft off of the reputation of the fictional Starfleet Command.
A ROYAL RECKONING? 👑
News of a second child for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, one who could be both in line for the English throne and run for office in the US, has set off speculation about the future of the monarchy.
Citing Prince Charles’s low approval ratings, opinion is divided over whether Charles will be merely unpopular, so unpopular as to end the monarchy, or whether he should abdicate in favor of his son, whose ratings are nearly as high as those of the reigning Queen.
Few institutions as the British monarchy are so linked to reputation, or so propped up by popular favor or disfavor.
Without a royal family, would England draw as many tourists? To be such a boon to their native country, do the royals need to cost so much to taxpayers? (Especially considering how much private wealth they already have).
Yet it is hard to imagine an England without a king or queen. Even George Orwell thought that a socialist England would still keep one head to wear the crown, even as a charming anachronism.
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print:
This newsletter brought to you by messages in a bottle, Verona, and an underwater post office. 🤿📮