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Out of Scope Issue 12: Know Thy Audience
This week’s non-required thinking on reputation, business, and culture
This week, we’re looking at the Super League, a brand whose rise, decline, and fall happened in the space of 48 hours, record time even for our fevered news cycle. We’re thinking about brand equity and brand liability, marveling that oatmilk has become even more controversial since we last wrote about it, and doing a quick survey of some tone-deaf responses to the historic events of the week.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
In brand content we actually want to read, Petco put together a guide for offices to go pet-friendly. You can read more about the trend here - and just know that our HL canines Muffin, Poppy, and Freddy are getting their badges ready for the office.
Here’s an example of how brand equity can flip over into brand liability. The claim that Peloton’s treadmills can be dangerous to pets and children could, in theory, apply to any home treadmill. But what might’ve been a local news story has, because of Peloton’s global brand, become national news.
Here come the NYC mayoral race takes!
Tesla’s comms team has had a rough week. While we thought that word of the crash of one of their cars in Texas (with nobody at the wheel) would’ve led the firm to apologize, the front-page story in the journal showed them apologizing to the Chinese populace because of safety concerns. Their choice apology and the Journal’s coverage shows that their market of interest (and concern) is shifting eastward.
Nostalgia or lack of ideas? Apple has championed marketing since the beginning, and with their return to the iconic colorful Macs, the memes practically write themselves. But their tendency to, shall we say, recycle ideas may be getting them in hot water.
Caitlyn Jenner is officially running for California Governor in a recall election against Gavin Newsom this fall. Considering she doesn’t even like to talk about politics, we’re surprised she’s taking on this next endeavor. One wonders if her ex-wife (and matriarch of the Kardashian clan) Kris has a hand in all this. Regardless of the reason, whoever is writing this next season of “America” needs to cool it.
The Bonus Jonas becomes his own! With his deadpan delivery and darkly funny stories about his mental health journey, Frankie Jonas has amassed a huge following on TikTok. After growing up in the limelight of his brothers (Nick, Kevin, and Joe — in case you hadn’t heard), Frankie is becoming a star in his own right, doing what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants to do it. Hey, if Frankie Jonas can overcome an embarrassing on-set allergic reaction, he can do anything. We stan a powerful rebrand!
Several brands are taking a new approach to marketing for Mothers Day this year by allowing their customers to opt out of those specific emails. For people who have lost their mothers or have a more complicated relationship with them, this is a welcome move - the month leading up to the holiday is usually filled with a barrage of emails reminding them of potentially painful parts of their lives. This new empathetic move for advertising builds trust with their audience, who know that even though these emails are not intended specifically for them, someone out there is thinking about their situation.
🏆 REPUTATION FAIL OF THE WEEK: Responses to Chauvin trial result
Next up in “Misreading the Mood of the Country:” Nancy Pelosi and the Las Vegas Raiders (among others). ICYMI, Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, sparking major protests and calls for social change last summer, was found guilty on all three charges this week. Many people (and brands) took to social media to express their reactions to the trial’s result, but two reactions, in particular, stood out for us.
At an event with the Congressional Black Caucus, Nancy Pelosi said: “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice… And because of you ... your name will always be synonymous with justice.” That line caused an immediate reaction on social media…
… leading Pelosi to revise her earlier statement into something a bit more tasteful.
And on the brand side of things, while many brands paused on social for the day following the trial’s end, the football team Las Vegas Raiders decided this was the right move.
We’re personally fans of this light touch response.
It’s important to remember that while public figures and brands are often expected to say *something* in response to major cultural moments like this one, sometimes silence is the best course of action.
💡ON OUR MINDS
Europe’s failed Super League broke the cardinal rule: know thy audience.
This week 12 owners of the wealthiest football (soccer) clubs announced plans to create their own breakaway “Super League”, but the announcement quickly sparked global backlash.
Impassioned fans, players, late-night hosts, and even royals from around the world took to social media to express their outrage. It quickly became apparent that the Super League didn’t have a plan to control the narrative.
Conversation swirled around the owners’ greed and flagrant disregard for the two fundamentals that make football beloved — it’s a sport rooted in community, and an underdog always has the potential to win.
After a spectacular 48 hours of revolt, all teams have dropped out, leaving the Super League the butt of some clever jokes from brands and left-out clubs. Might we recommend the age-old tactic of consulting your stakeholders?
Oat no you didn’t!
After managing to infuriate basically every single artist in the entire Philadelphia area, Minor Figures has successfully ensured that its oat milk will never grace Philly shelves ever again.
And it seems the faux milk product as a whole is just cursed: Oatly, the Swedish oat milk brand, released a Super Bowl ad that was immediately deemed one of the worst Super Bowl ads of all time. Surprisingly, it seems like we’ll be keeping an eye on this story as somehow it's only getting bigger.
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print:
This newsletter brought to you by the unveiling of long-unseen archeological treasures.