Out of Scope Issue 103: Cash Is King but Comms Is Priceless
Plus: Unlikely brand collaborations and Ryan Reynolds cashes in
This week brought the banks to the top of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. There were some 2008 vibes. Some 1930 vibes. And, at the same time, we saw something we’ve never seen before: a social media- and group chat-powered bank run. With the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a key lesson the world saw this week is cash may be king, but when the stakes are high, and the pressure is on, communications can make or break corporations.
💡ON OUR MINDS: The fall of SVB
It's safe to say Silicon Valley Bank had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. But the saga of their collapse isn't just a finance or tech story. The disastrous bank run is a lesson in the power of communications.
The fallout has sparked a wider conversation about how tech-forward organizations represent themselves to their stakeholders and the world. Both social media-fueled groupthink and a jumbled press release played pivotal roles in generating more alarm than necessary.
Knowing your audience is key to the success of any corporate communication. In this case, SVB's press release failed to explain why it needed to raise funds and the language was anything but geared towards their core customers (startups.) Omitting this messaging likely exacerbated the panic and made a bad situation worse in a matter of hours and to the tune of billions of dollars.
Another evergreen reminder? You need a communications leader more than you think. Without anyone in charge of SVB's reputation management, they struggled to cross their biggest hurdle yet—leading to Chapter 11 instead of a strong next chapter.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
ICYMI: March 10 was National Ranch Day. To celebrate, US ice cream chain Van Leeuwen dropped a new product: ranch-flavored ice cream in partnership with Hidden Valley Ranch. As outlandish as this new flavor sounds, this campaign isn't unusual; just weeks prior, the brand released "Malted Shake & Fries" flavored ice cream in partnership with Idaho® Potatoes. With a recent report finding more adult Americans would be encouraged to buy more ice cream if there were more savory offerings amidst continued ice cream market growth, stay tuned for more gimmicky flavors—like pizza or everything — as brands look to generate buzz and boost market share.
Another unlikely brand collaboration made headlines this week when Heinz launched "S.O.S. Tomato Island" on Fortnite to raise awareness around soil degradation. Designed to educate young gamers, Heinz leveraged the popular game to relay a serious message in an "authentic and fun way." The campaign ladders up to Heinz's recent commitment to enhancing its sustainable agricultural practices and is an excellent example of how a CSR initiative should link to a brand's core product and values.
This week, Bloomberg reported the end of the "Golden Era of Celebrity Beauty Brands" that peaked in 2021. Consumers are currently more interested in skincare over makeup as beauty trends shift, but the recent influx of celebrity-backed beauty brands has sparked backlash and exasperation, driving consumers to prioritize quality over star power. How can brands adjust? Aside from ensuring product quality matches the price point, brands should prioritize celebrity projects that feel authentic and position the celebrity as a partner – not an industry expert – Bloomberg writes. In other words, more Rare Beauty/Selena Gomez and less Le Domaine/Brad Pitt.
He's done it again, folks. Ryan Reynolds, actor turned mogul, has recently seen his Mint Mobile acquired by T-Mobile in a $1.35 billion deal. The actor has rapidly transformed in recent years from a mere leading man to an ultimate dealmaker. With the celebrity brand space in decline, Reynolds has excelled in boosting his companies with his image while flying relatively under-the-radar with smart but innocuous business choices. When you hear "Ryan Reynolds," the first thing that comes to mind isn't cell service, gin, soccer, or financial startups – and that's a good thing.
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