Out of Scope: Issue 08
This week's nonrequired thinking on reputation, business, and culture from Hirsch Leatherwood
This week, we continue to consider the royals, check back in on NFTs, cringe at shrimp tails, and applaud Ben Affleck’s PR savvy. Steve would also like to note, “This week is the last week without real baseball games until November. Rejoice!”
📡 ON OUR RADAR
Prince Harry has got himself a job as Chief Impact Officer at a Silicon Valley start-up that specializes in HR services. This follows in the footsteps of his cousin Princess Beatrice who advises a software investment bank and mostly stays out of the limelight. Could the next chapter for Prince Harry be more mundane than glamorous?
What’s next for marketing in what’s increasingly being referred to as “the new normal?” As Covid-19 restrictions ease up in some places but not others, regionality is looking like the name of the game.
If you missed the David Dobrik saga this week, long story short, he’s a YouTuber who came to fame via a series of prank videos - some of which seem to have been less than consensual. As his new app Dispo began to pick up steam, allegations came to the surface, leading to the classic YouTube move: a serious(ly performative) video apology from the floor.
Ryan Reynolds launched an ad agency, Maximum Effort, to fuel his own viral stunts, making him one of the most sought out influencers for brands across the landscape, but is this model for influencer marketing scalable? The name is powerful, but even the most significant of celebrities will only get you so far. Short-term stunts don’t equate to long-term strategy.
ICYMI: This Wednesday was Equal Pay Day - set as the number of days into the new year that women would have needed to work to earn the same amount as a man for equal work. Sallie Krawcheck, founder and CEO of Ellevest, a women’s investment platform, writes about what Equal Pay Day gets wrong, and what we should be doing about it.
“Meghan Markle Didn’t Do The Work” says culture and gossip columnist Caitlin Flanagan at The Atlantic, which marks the first time we’ve seen woke terminology used to throw shade. Nobody comes off well in this piece, but everybody still seems somehow glamorous. The long march of critical theory terminology through the culture takes another turn.
Pasta went for a rebrand this week, with a new shape that values the three essential elements of forkability, sauceability, and toothsinkability.
In missed opportunities: Peepsi and ConspiraSEA
🏆 REPUTATION FAIL OF THE WEEK: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
If you found shrimp tails in your box of sugary cereal, what would you do? Jensen Karp took to Twitter, calling out Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the weird find. This probably could have gone unnoticed, except for the fact that Cinnamon Toast Crunch decided to go all-in on a strategy of denial.
Our advice, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation: take the L and admit that, maybe, it’s just possible that someone did in fact find a shrimp tail in the cereal, but you’ll do everything you can to figure out why and how to prevent that from happening again. Speaking of “happening again…”
And with that…
💡ON OUR MINDS
A WORLD WITHOUT EMAIL? YEAH RIGHT.
Cal Newport, popularizer of the concept of deep work has come to terms in his latest book with the reality many of us face: We’d love nothing more than to take his advice and eschew the world of notifications for one of blissful focus, at least some of the time.
But as the pandemic has shown us, when the social obligation we feel toward our co-workers, friends, and family lurk behind every email, text, and slack message, deep work isn’t really an option.
Like 4-day work weeks, setting up no email or Zoom-free Fridays in companies only works when leadership sets the example.
Remote work is a trend we’re likely to see stick around after the pandemic. Time away from notifications? At HL, we’re more skeptical.
We’ve known since at least 2008 that our attention spans are being shortened by a world of instant connection and distraction. But no taboo or best practice stops us from picking up our phones and interrupting each other more or less whenever we feel like it. Or from turning to Twitter and Facebook for voluntary distraction when the obligatory kind overwhelms us.
Communicators take note: Lip service to tech-enabled burnout is having a moment. But expect it to last as long as our collective attention span.
A NEW RAP SHEET AT THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT?
The International Criminal Court is making progress toward classifying “ecocide” as an offense, along with crimes against humanity and other acts within its jurisdiction.
Few fear that ecocide, which may be defined as a crime against nature rather than the use of natural destruction as a weapon of war, will end up having any real teeth, legally.
The more immediate harm may come in providing a framework of terms and ideas for opponents of major companies to wield against their reputation.
Consider that “crimes against humanity” as a term may go back as far as 1890, when it was used as a rhetorical weapon against King Leopold II for his treatment of the people of the Congo. And Leopold is still paying for it, even today.
Until ecocide is codified, it’ll be tough to say which acts, past or present, may give their perpetrators at rap sheet in The Hague.
BEN AFFLECK KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING
Hat tip to Isaac Feldberg for revealing this gem of a Ben Affleck snippet from the filming of Gone Girl
The thing is, we get it. We can have a debate on whether or not it’s silly that Affleck will attract negative attention. But there’s no debate on what the inevitable outcome would be.
Large corporations, sports teams, Hollywood celebrities: it doesn’t matter. Your brand is your brand, and it’s wise to be meticulous about every aspect, as trivial as it may seem.
You sure wouldn’t see Spike Lee walking around a movie set in an Indiana Pacers jersey.
📱FOLLOW OF THE WEEK
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print: