Out of Scope Issue 47: Sports Wins and Political Gaffes
Political comms, the British Royal Family, and more.
This week, we ponder the Golden Globes’ social team, British and pop culture “royalty,” and why cigarettes are apparently cool again.
Have a wonderful long weekend, part of which we hope is spent honoring and remembering Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy.
💡ON OUR MINDS
A tough week in political communications.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams miscalculated the value of his words when he called “my cooks, my dishwashers, my messengers, my shoeshine people, those who work in Dunkin’ Donuts…” low-skill workers.
AOC, who worked at a restaurant before running for Congress, tweeted:
Achmat X @AchmatXEric Adams just said “Low skill workers like cooks, messengers and Dunkin’ Donuts employees don’t have the academic skills to sit in a corner office” https://t.co/KaoY9MNZ8J
Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to fumble their communication around coronavirus response as the United States’ daily cases continue to shatter world records.
The administration first drew significant ire from the public in December, when White House press secretary Jen Psaki lamented the cost of providing coronavirus tests to every American ahead of the predicted Omicron holiday surge.
While the administration was forced to eat crow, announcing they would buy at-home tests to be provided free of cost, after the explosive surge came to a head, they continue to be plagued by inadequate and, frankly, incoherent communication about how they intend to mitigate the Omicron variant going forward.
This was clear, nowhere more so than one of VP Kamala Harris’ media appearances this week. Asked whether it was time to change strategies, the VP responded: “It is time for us to do what we have been doing, and that time is every day. Every day it is time for us to agree that there are things and tools that are available to us to slow this thing down.”
The continuous fumbles have us all thinking, “huh?” and wondering what kind of media training goes on at the White House. (If you’re reading this, Jen, Joe, or Kamala, Hirsch Leatherwood is available!)
This week, the New York Times asked the question we’ve all been thinking: have cigarettes lost their taboo?
For years, e-cigarettes and vapes replaced cigarettes as the youth’s vice of choice. But now, data and doctors are confirming what many began noticing anecdotally after the onset of the pandemic: cigarettes are back.
While cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, the generation that grew up watching anti-smoking campaigns in school now seems to be embracing cigs in droves, causing many to question what gives.
For some, the cigarette comeback can be attributed to a) the stress caused by pandemic restlessness and b) ‘post-pandemic’ indulgence, where the resurgence of nightlife has lent itself to social smoking.
For others, it’s an aesthetic choice by presenting as “contemporarily atypical,” or in plain speak, cool. Essentially, cigarettes put a sexy, sophisticated vibe in reach that otherwise feels utterly exclusionary and unattainable.
What do most of these have in common? A sense of fatalistic subversion. As the article points out, the youth especially feel burned out by a seemingly never-ending amount of crises. For some, cigarettes are a way to show that they really just are over it in true Gen Z and millennial fashion.
But we couldn't help but wonder… is it unscrupulous for media outlets to even give these types of trends airtime, in turn further promoting the “aesthetic”?
🏆 BRAND FAIL OF THE WEEK (...OR PAST DECADE): The British Royal Family
“His Royal Highness” no longer. Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth II, has been stripped of his military titles and royal charities. From adored to disgraced, Andrew has been accused by Virginia Guiffre of rape and a federal judge from New York has ordered the case for sexual abuse against Andrew to proceed. Buckingham Palace has announced that Andrew will defend his case as a private citizen, and Guiffre has expressed her appreciation for the chance to expose the truth and “[walk] alongside countless other survivors of sexual abuse & trafficking.”
The Queen’s approval of this decision to protect her family’s brand is not surprising, considering she sanctioned Andrew’s duties in 2019 after a reputation-ruining interview describing his relationship with convicted criminal Jeffery Epstein.
The current accusations against Andrew come amidst claims of racism within the royal family from Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. An interview with Oprah and a new book titled, “Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan,” written by Christopher Andersen, detail the speculations that Prince Charles had made about what the children of his son Harry and daughter-in-law and first Black-identified person to marry into the family, Meghan, would look like.
The family enamors people around the globe, and everyone knows the British media tends to favor them, but ever since the death of Princess Diana, the family has publicly been affected by the system.
For years, the Royal Family has failed to communicate how they will withstand pressures to modernize their traditional, albeit somewhat archaic procedures – and the most recent familial developments are causing some to wonder whether they are capable, or even willing, to do so.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
“Treating journalists like influencers isn’t healthy for journalism,” writes Jessica Lessin, the founder and CEO of The Information. Her column argues that journalists are morphing into columnists or newsletter writers, rather than traditional investigative and news reporters who bring stories like Elizabeth Holmes’ and the Facebook Files to light. She concludes, “influencers are the latest shiny new business model for tech companies like Meta and Alphabet. News executives shouldn’t let themselves be seduced.”
It’s been difficult to keep up with the Novak Djokovic saga. The world number 1 tennis player arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Open last week only to be detained for an invalid COVID-19 vaccination exemption. He will be detained again on Saturday ahead of his hearing before the Australian Federal Court, determining his ability to play in the tournament that begins on Monday.
The New York Yankees organization has named Rachel Balkovec the manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate. After two years as a hitting coach, she earned her spot as the first woman to manage a team in affiliated professional baseball.
Admitting that you’re wrong is hard, and can be even more complicated if you’re a professional in the public eye. To what degree should pundits admit to their faults? Some see it as an expression of openness that bolsters credibility and humanizes experts. However, in a world where science itself is routinely called into question, does it leave too much room to call into question otherwise empirical claims?
An economic indicator nobody pays attention to, but probably should. What does this mean for consumer habits in the future? As the economy rebounds, are we in for a boost of adults in their 30s spending like they’re in their 20s to make up for lost time?
After a tumultuous year for the HFPA that resulted in NBC pulling the plug on its traditional telecast, the Golden Globes took to Twitter this weekend to announce winners, and well, some copy just didn’t quite work.
NFTs have exploded as a means for brands to engage with consumers while tapping into the buzz around the metaverse. The annual tradition of the puppy bowl is now releasing NFTs, joining in on the trend, and keeping up with the times.
In a step towards a future of interactive audio, Spotify has announced a new podcast ad format: CTA cards. Sounds like a clunky UX, but Spotify notes they’re “making it easier to remember and take action on the ads you hear.”
Facebook and other social media companies’ commitment to user privacy has been a hot topic as of late. However, data privacy measures may have a more significant impact than we think. Facebook’s sweeping ban on targeted medical advertisements makes it harder for many studies to source participants for clinical trials. Decreasing the available sample space of trial participants has obvious undesirable consequences in terms of the ability to quickly and effectively get new treatments through clinical testing. It has raised an interesting concern: at what cost do we value privacy?
Would digital literacy help stop the spread of misinformation? A new MIT Sloan study says no. Though "digitally literate" people are better at distinguishing between accurate and inaccurate information, they're just as likely to share misinformation.
Both Elizabeth Holmes and the latest TikTok trend are driving attention to the scheduling of routines. As this NYT Magazine points out, rather than provide an accurate glimpse into someone’s day, the trend only serves to create “sleek fantasies of order, unfolding amid chaos” – reminding us of the role self-presentation plays in communicating anything and everything.
A new survey reveals that while millennials rely on online news sources more heavily, 48% of Gen Z respondents called social media their “go-to” option for news. That said, 54% of each group also reported that they generally do not trust social media. Consumers of all generations are becoming more discerning and skeptical of news sources across the board.
The U.S Treasury has introduced the first of five new quarters featuring notable women in history. Maya Angelou's quarter went into circulation on Monday, marking the first African American woman ever to appear on a quarter. Over the next few years, the U.S. Mint will also issue quarters honoring Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong.
After a downtrodden few decades, the labor beat is witnessing a resurgence. The combined power of multiple socio-political crises (like The Great Resignation and #MeToo movement), the pandemic, and increased unionization efforts have all placed an important spotlight on issues of equity and safety in the workplace, providing enough subject matter to last the next decade.
Actress Julia Fox’s piece for Interview about her “Date Night” with Ye, the artist formally known as Kanye West, reminded us all that you can spark an exhilarating cultural impact in the same amount of words as a supplemental college essay (in this case, 217). The whole ordeal, as Vanessa Hsieh from Dazed wrote, is a testament to how storytelling within pop culture serves as a breeding ground for marketers and consumers vulturous appetites to create and consume “operatic,” high-impact moments — and those that are willing to play the game, like Fox, Ye, and Balenciaga in this case, are poised for major visibility wins.
If you’ve done any online shopping in the past year, you’ve likely seen the growth of buy-now-pay-later options – some integrated right at checkout. Many critics argue that while offering more payment flexibility can be helpful, the positioning and messaging about these options must be clearer for consumers. Companies frame out-of-reach prices as achievable with friendly installment plans - but it’s fueling a debt boom.
In case you missed these stories this week.
When the seven top TikTok stars are out-earning many of the Fortune 500 CEOs (read: a collective $55.5 million last year), it calls into question where the real influence lies online.
While the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has been called many names, the White House officially coined it as an “attempted coup” in President Biden’s remarks this week.
What pairs well with an espresso martini? How about some millennial-friendly nostalgia bait from Goldfish.
It was a big week for women in sports: the Eagles VP of Football Ops, has been requested to interview for the Vikings GM position, to be the first GM interview request for a woman in NFL history.
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print:
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