Out of Scope Issue 50: 6 more weeks of winter & the Olympics are on!
It’s cold in Beijing, but Spotify and the NFL are catching some heat.
This week, the new groundhog saw its shadow (boo!), the Olympics are officially on, we’re celebrating the start of Black History Month, the NFL faces controversy again, and Elon Musk has made multiple headlines.
💡ON OUR MINDS
Celebrating Black History Month (and Rosa Park’s 109th birthday today)!
We’ll start each newsletter this month with a couple of spotlights on Black communities and individuals who have helped advance the media and communications industry.
The ColorComm Network is the nation’s leading women’s platform addressing diversity & inclusion across the communications, marketing, advertising, media, and digital industries. This month, check out their Instagram page for #TheColorComm28, featuring 28 influential Black women in communications making history now.
Earl Graves Sr. was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and advocate of African-American businesses. After serving as Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s administrative assistant for three years, Graves founded Black Enterprise Magazine in 1970, the leading black digital media brand. Among several successful business endeavors and multiple prestigious awards, he published a New York Times best-seller, “How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making it in America.”
Spotify’s Continued Joe Rogan Conundrum
Public outcry over a platform’s (in)ability to stop the spread of misinformation is nothing new in this newsletter. But what is relatively new is that the negative attention now includes Spotify.
In 2020 the streaming platform paid more than $100M to own the exclusive rights to the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, and it quickly became one of the most popular podcasts on the platform.
But over the past couple of weeks, multiple artists, including Neil Young (who is now directing fans to Amazon Music), Joni Mitchell, India Arie, Graham Nash, and more have removed their music from Spotify to protest Joe Rogan and his guests’ false claims about COVID-19 on the weekly podcast.
This week CNN reported that Prince Harry & Meghan Markle had entered the chat. According to a spokesperson for their foundation, the couple first raised the issue last April and have continued to urge Spotify to root out misinformation on the platform.
As a creator with two podcasts exclusively on the platform, Brené Brown announced she has decided to hold on producing episodes until she can share a clear POV on the misinformation matter.
In response to the backlash, Spotify released its COVID-19 content approach going forward, which Rogan said he supported. We’ll see if the backlash naturally fades out or if Spotify will continue to lose the stars' support that draws listeners to the platform.
🏆 BRAND FAIL OF THE WEEK: the NFL
Brian Flores has sued the NFL and all of its teams, alleging racial discrimination in their hiring practices for Black coaches. Flores was fired this year as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, despite coaching the team through two winning seasons.
His allegations include the Dolphins’ owner bribing Flores to “tank” the team for a better draft pick and “sham” interviews from the Giants’ and Broncos’ leadership for the head coach position. While Flores has statistical evidence on his side (there is one Black coach in a 32-team league where 70% of players are Black), the Wall Street Journal reports that early proceedings will be critical for this suit.
The NFL’s response? “Diversity is core to everything we do,” and it will “defend against these claims, which are without merit.” But for an organization with a poor track record on representation and discrimination, this statement is quite literally the least they can do. For Flores, this may mean the end of his career as a coach. Recognizing this sacrifice, he’s quoted as saying, “My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”
📡 ON OUR RADAR
After a frenzied sports reporting marathon, it’s officially official, according to the legend himself. After a 7-time Super Bowl championship and 22-year NFL career, Tom Brady has retired.
Folgers, the 172-year-old coffee brand that 35 Americans drink every day, is teaching us all a wise lesson by leaning into their “bad reputation” instead of trying to change it amongst an increasingly competitive industry.
Fortune’s Alan Murray calls auto companies’ race to dominate the electric vehicle (EV) market “the most fascinating business stories of our times.” Why? Because it’s a race to own a market that doesn’t fully exist yet, at least for consumers. This story about VW’s EV strategy credits Elon Musk as the driving force making auto companies like VW figure out how to compete or get left behind.
Speaking of Elon Musk, a teen created a tracker that monitors Musk’s air travel. Musk offered the teen $5K to shut down the tracker for security purposes. But in true Gen-Z fashion, the teen said no thanks <3. He claims that building the tracker has given him immense satisfaction in his work and doesn’t want to settle for less than $50K.
2022 is no stranger to data-privacy binds across tech companies. Still, new reporting from Politico suggests Crisis Text Line – an AI-driven, non-profit chat line – may be breaching a clear ethical boundary by sharing data with its for-profit spinoff to create and market customer service software. One thing is clear: while the CTL remains firm they’ve done nothing wrong, volunteers are outraged and are calling for a “reform of data ethics.”
Data privacy is complex yet essential. This week the online ad industry’s governing trade body learned that lesson when a GDPR enforcer ruled that IAB Europe’s consent popups were unlawful. From insufficient record-keeping to a lack of transparency, the IAB faced numerous claims that they failed to adhere to the guidelines set out by the GDPR. Is this the fault of legislation that’s nearly impossible to communicate clearly, or a disregard for the rules?
CNN’s Jeff Zucker is the latest media executive to resign over a relationship in the workplace. While the relationship with a long-time colleague (who reported directly to him) was consensual, Zucker failed to report it to CNN’s HR while the network was already under intense scrutiny from the fallout of the Cuomo Brothers saga.
Nostalgia marketing has been a growing trend, and Busch Light is capitalizing on that fact to remind consumers of its original brand promise. The beer company’s Super Bowl advertisement revisits its original slogan and incorporates beloved musician Kenny G. The decision to target older consumers (who would remember the original ad campaign) raises some interesting questions about Super Bowl advertising going forward. Will the tone of Super Bowl advertising shift to appeal to older consumers as traditional media struggles to keep up with streaming?
The variety and reality show format has emerged as conservatives’ avenue of choice to rehabilitate their public image post-Trump administration. After Sean Spicer and Omarosa led the movement on Dancing with the Stars and Big Brother, respectively, Rudy Giuliani took his skills to the Masked Singer this week to the displeasure of judges Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke. If Robin Thicke wasn’t on board, it’s hard to believe the rest of America will be.
NFTs will likely be the talk of the Super Bowl advertising game. But as the appetite for NFTs grows, it’s bringing a series of scandals with it. Most recently, a website called HitPiece, which claims to sell NFTs of popular songs, received backlash from artists for selling songs they don’t have the rights to. This type of story adds more hurdles for an industry that already has a lot of work to build trust among consumers. Should we just stick to looking at photographs?
The “Great Resignation” has spurred corporate America to reevaluate its hiring practices. However, it’s unclear if this is the kind of reform workers were hoping for. In a somewhat unsurprising turn of events, around 6,600 brands spent more than $354 million on recruitment-themed ads in 2021, up 22% from 2020, according to MediaRadar. This increase in recruitment communication hasn’t necessarily translated to an uptick in hiring. However, it does signal to job seekers that companies are interested in doing what it takes to align themselves with the right talent.
In case you missed these stories this week.
DoorDash and Shake Shack walk into a bar…
Washington’s NFL team is officially named the Washington Commanders.
If you’re in NYC, check out this cube made of $11.7M worth of gold.
Melinda French Gates plans to spread the wealth.
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print:
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