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Out of Scope Issue 10: Vaccination gangs 💉and avocado influencers 🥑 (Taylor’s Version)
This week’s non-required thinking on reputation, business, and culture
This week, we look at the *other* royals, reflect on the origins of “cancel” culture, and bid adieu to Yahoo Answers while jamming to the re-recorded Fearless (Taylor’s Version).
📡 ON OUR RADAR
With the headline “One Weird Trick to Fix Our Broken Childcare System,” Vox wins this week’s competition for what we call “upper middle brow clickbait,” the use of direct marketing style headlines to sell ideas to the intelligentsia.
A couple weeks ago, President Biden met with historians to discuss the early successes of his administration, and was heavy on comparisons of himself to FDR. A note to his image handlers: If you’re taking credit for your achievements, go easy on comparing yourself to great figures. Obama had a lighter touch when talking about the former occupants of the Oval Office, and was still mocked for it. Prematurely taking credit in times of crisis doesn’t age well. Just ask Andrew Cuomo. And in a world that changes every 10 minutes, maybe give yourself 100 days in office before declaring victory.
This week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill banning gender-affirming treatments for transgender minors in the state, calling it “a step way too far.” The move was quickly overturned by the state legislature. It goes to show that much of America still hasn’t decided how to talk about this issue - and a lack of information leaves plenty of room for misinformation and biased decision-making, as House Minority Leader Tippi McCullough explained.
Yet more news about a northern European constitutional monarchy trying to live up to the pomp required of heads of state in an age of anxieties about inequality and historical legacy. It’s not the Windsors this time, but the Dutch House of Orange, whose recent displays of personal wealth are leading to some resentment from a restive Dutch citizenry. We’ll be watching to see how their image-makers handle this one.
A surprise to probably no one, a new report shares that Ivanka Trump’s program designed to promote women’s empowerment turns out to have been pretty much all talk and no substance. The Government Accountability Office found that the funding funneled into the program can’t be traced, meaning that it’s unclear if the money ever reached its intended recipients.
That whole Voltswagen nonsense from last week? Harris Poll says 80% of consumers either didn’t care or actually think better of VW since the stunt that appeared to break the souls of reporters on Twitter. It’s a good reminder for those of us who spend somewhere between 12-24 hours a day on the platform: it’s not real life.
“Cancel culture,” like “political correctness” and “woke,” have different connotations, depending on where you stand in America’s culture war. Here’s one take on where “cancel” as a culturally charged verb may have originated, and what that says about those who have weaponized it. Communicators beware: “cancel culture” as a phrase isn’t a neutral one.
In the battle between Big Tech and Washington for control of the public conversation, a new fighter has entered the ring, The National Archives, who are trying to resurrect Trump’s tweets. Twitter is having none of it, saying the ban is absolute. This is a test of the digital age proverb, “the internet is forever.” At the end of the day, is history forgotten doomed to be retweeted?
In both a strategic decision to reclaim her intellectual property and a genuine reinvention, today, Taylor Swift released her re-recorded album Fearless. Swift is a reputation master, reintroducing herself to the TikTok teens while looping in the fans of yesteryear with her 2008 songs built for high school crushes and broken hearts. Every song is now officially branded as “Taylor’s Version” — exactly what she wanted after the battle over her original masters.
The long-overdue death of Yahoo Answers is upon us. A generation of millennials and Gen Z kids grew up on backward answers to life’s simplest (and silliest) questions, from “how is babby formed?” to “If you die in Canada, do you die in real life?” and many are mourning what they saw as the internet’s weird surrogate parent. Remember kids, the internet is forever - except when it’s not.
💡ON OUR MINDS
Mirror, mirror on the phone
Social media filters have officially made it into MIT’s Technology Review as they change the way women and girls see themselves.
One bombshell stat? “The most widespread use of augmented reality isn’t in gaming: it’s the face filters on social media.”
While many might use the filters for fun, adding dog ears, flowers, or funny glasses to their faces in real-time, the beautifying effects like lip plumping, skin smoothing, and built-in eyeliner and lashes are beginning to take a toll on the people who use them most often.
In late 2019, Facebook banned effects associated with plastic surgery after a JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery study found that face filters on apps are leading to a phenomenon called “Snapchat dysmorphia.”
This conundrum isn’t limited to your average social media user. This week, Khloe Kardashian and team did their best to erase an un-doctored image from social media to no avail, later releasing a statement, part of which reads: “This is how I have been conditioned to feel, that I am not beautiful enough just being me.”
Who’s the influencer now?
Avocados From Mexico has launched Avocado Nation, a new personalized AI-Driven platform that will finally help us satiate our millennial appetite for that creamy green stone fruit.
Don’t forget to don your new favorite avocado polo. You can also watch videos at Avocado Nation Studios and enroll in an Avocado Rewards Program. It’s hard to tell whether this is a stunt or not, but the ambition here is high.
So what’s happening? Have we come full circle? Are avocados themselves the influencers now?
Moderna gang rise up
All of Team HL is at least partly vaccinated, which brought to our attention the extreme dedication to vaccine brands (Majority Moderna Gang here, with one Team Pfizer)
Apparently, vaccine rivalries are taking over Twitter and TikTok, adding a bit of fun to the essential ingredient on the way to ending the pandemic.
You know the brand love is really real when bootleg vaccine merch shows up on Etsy… at least one Moderna recipient on our team is strongly considering this Dolly Dose button. (Too bad there’s no “Taylor’s Version” of the vaccine… yet.)
Brands like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, who have both seen major drags on their reputations in the last few years, can now enjoy a new primary association in people’s minds. Even if brand rehabilitation was only a small percentage of their motivation to create a vaccine, the benefits are well earned and well-deserved. Let’s see how long they can keep the gains.
All of this leaves us with one important question… which one did you get?
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print:
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