Out of Scope Issue 63: SCOTUS Edition
It’s all about the Gilded Age this week (for both rights and fashion)...
This week was a heavy news week - in case you’ve already forgotten, Monday was the Met Gala, themed for the Gilded Age. In the middle of the proceedings, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court on overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked. And that was just the beginning of a week of Elon, Dolly, and the Kardashians – oh my!
💡ON OUR MINDS
Justice Alito’s Scathing Rebuke
This week, shockwaves were sent across America and the world as a leaked majority draft opinion showed the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The language of the draft itself, as described by Politico, is a “full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision.” All it takes is a close look at the language used by Justice Samuel Alito to agree with the assessment, from where he characterizes Roe as “egregiously wrong” to argues it ranges from “constitutionally irrelevant to the plainly incorrect.”
Alito goes on to say, “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.” The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore responded by saying what we’re all thinking…of course abortion wasn’t mentioned in a 1787 document written by 55 white men for white men.
For as direct and precise as he was in his rebuke of the decision, Alito seemingly left just as many open-ended questions due to his broad, sweeping statements. One such statement that continues to raise eyebrows? “A right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”
Many were quick to point out the implications the ambiguity around Alito’s use of “history” may have on other monumental SCOTUS decisions, like Obergefell v. Hodges – the landmark case which affirmed the right to same-sex marriage. While the Atlantic writer Adam Serwer called Alito’s statement as “arbitrary as it is lawless,” Twitter users took to the platform to ask when the cut off for “the Nation’s history” was.
On the other side of the political spectrum, rather than throwing a celebration over a major policy win, the Right continues to vacillate over the “stunning breach” and “pathetic leak” – leading to Charlie Warzel’s thought-provoking headline, “Why Are the Right Such Sore Winners?”
As Charlie points out, it’s likely a strategy to deflect from just how radical the ruling is, and follows the conservative pattern of using political wins to “double down on a victimization narrative” that rallies their bases.
And the world reacts
Just as the leaked opinion set people everywhere ablaze with opinions of their own, it sparked off a big week for both political and corporate communications.
In a bout of emotional and brave storytelling, five members of Congress – Representatives Cori Bush, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, and Jackie Speier, and Senator Gary Peters – spoke to Elle about their own abortion stories.
While it’s expected that policy issues like abortion will be discussed in the halls of Congress, many are designating this moment in SCOTUS history as the moment in which Corporate America must formally respond and recognize abortion as a new workforce issue. And respond they did.
Amazon, which is on track to be the largest employer in America, announced a $4,000 travel benefit for abortions, setting a standard for other major corporations to live up to (Yelp announced a similar travel benefit). Though, as many immediately pointed out, Amazon’s policy excludes most of the company’s poorest and most vulnerable workers, who will be hit hardest by the Court’s decision.
In the wake of the news, one ad tech firm, SafeGraph, was outed in a Vice report for gathering and selling location data of people who visit abortion clinics or places like Planned Parenthood. That alone might seem like a simple breach of privacy, but in states like Texas and Oklahoma, where laws have been passed that will criminalize people getting or assisting others in the process of getting an abortion, this could be a means for law enforcement to target and prosecute potential offenders.
We all saw what happened when Disney went up against Florida with the Don’t Say Gay bill - some are wondering whether other brands will share their stances or stay out of the fray in fear of potential blowback.
🏆 BRAND ??? OF THE WEEK: Elon Musk
The great Elon Musk Twitter saga of our times continued this week, as Elon announced he plans to take Twitter public just a few years after his impending buyout. He believes it will increase the app’s profitability and generate attention from potential investors, though some are still haunted by when Twitter initially went public in 2013, which quickly became derided as a failure by the media.
The investors Musk was looking for came flooding in when a group of approximately two dozen investors raised over $7.1 billion to back the billionaire’s $44 billion bid to purchase the app. The investors include venture capital firms Sequoia Capital, VyCapital, and Andreessen Horowitz, crypto exchange Binance, and asset management firm Fidelity. Ben Horowitiz, Co-Founder of Andreessen Horowitz, voiced his support, tweeting that Musk’s “brilliance” will “finally make [Twitter] what it was meant to be.”
However, not everyone shares Horowtiz’s certainty, including the company itself. Twitter’s risk report names Musk as one of the company’s largest potential threats to business, believing that Musk’s ownership could create challenges with advertisers, users and staff. The company is at a crossroads of deciding whether the sexiness of Twitter being owned by a billionaire “free-speech abolitionist” outweighs the cost of potentially losing those key constituencies. With a prospective owner who chooses to be unfiltered in the name of freedom and has little respect for corporate communications, will Twitter have any control over how to manage its reputation?
📡 ON OUR RADAR
In another brand fail this week, Ulta Beauty sent a marketing email to promote a new designer fragrance line with an unfortunate word choice, “Come Hang with Kate Spade.” Consumers took to social media to criticize the retailer for its insensitivity, not making the connection to the designer's 2018 death by suicide. While they issued a swift and sincere email apology, this incident highlights the importance of pressure testing creative ideas to get ahead of appearing tone-deaf.
Coming off of an Oscars win for his short-film “The Long Goodbye,” Riz Ahmed made a statement on the Met Gala red carpet with his outfit that was “an homage to the immigrant workers who kept the Gilded Age going.” It was a powerful moment on a red carpet that has been derided in recent years for the major dissonance between the opulence of the event, and the major societal upheaval that affects seemingly everywhere else.
After previously declining her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction nomination, Dolly Parton has changed her mind and accepted, and is now an inductee alongside Carly Simon, Lionel Richie, Eminem, Eurythmics, Pat Benatar, and Duran Duran. She initially turned down her nomination due to not feeling she had earned her place in the genre. Her fellow nominees are objectively all from different genres of music but have nonetheless impacted the music industry. This round of inductions shows that what it means to be accepted into the historic club and be welcomed into the rock & roll genre as a whole has shifted. We, for one, are happy that the icon who wrote “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” mere days apart is being honored for her notable contributions to music.
Kim Kardashian has been receiving backlash for disclosing she worked to lose 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into the dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy. Celebrities, particularly actresses, have been typically praised for weight loss, especially if it was for a role. Kim is someone whose body is never not being spoken about and could even be credited for the start of the BBL era. The criticism is curious for many reasons - is this the start of public figures being held accountable for unrealistic body standards? Are we having a reckoning for the lengths they, particularly women, go for a fleeting moment? As the media critiques Kim for the weight loss reveal, will the media also cease criticizing women for other body-related issues?
Inclusivity is in vogue and we love to see it. Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand Skims introduced a new line of adaptive underwear to address a gap in the accessibility market, providing color options and fashion-conscious features in a broad range of sizes. While Skims is not the first brand to make moves in this category, we are happy to see inclusivity becoming top of mind for more companies across the board.
Seeking help is only half the battle - protecting your data on mental health apps is a constant struggle. With surging demand for mobile mental health services, millions of users' confidential data on popular apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp are at the mercy of labyrinthine privacy policies - that can (and do) change at a moment's notice.
Warsaw, we have a problem. Poland's capital city is reaching capacity for accepting Ukrainian refugees. With nearly 2 million people, the city has welcomed more than 300k refugees - with more arriving daily. Warsaw's Mayor, Rafał Trzaskowski, is calling for a united EU strategy for the refugee crisis instead of the patchwork actions and statements from local and national government officials.
Headed to “West Village” to hit up what Tik Tok influencers are calling the hottest restaurant this weekend? Perhaps going to a museum in “Upper East Side?” If you unconsciously cringed reading those sentences, you probably recognize the importance of the article in front of many of NYC’s neighborhoods - something new-to-NYC Gen-Z influencers seem to have missed. The new lingo is cropping up in their many “what to do in NYC” videos - will the locals or the influencers win out?
After being detained in Russia for 75 days, WNBA star Brittney Griner has been reclassified by the U.S. government as ‘wrongfully detained.’ While not yet considered a hostage, the Department of State has determined, “the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner's release." The WNBA season is now underway and each team is featuring a decal with Griner’s initials on each of its courts.
Heineken is targeting female soccer fans in their new ad campaign, “Cheers to All Fans, Men Included.” The video shows women of all ages and ethnicities watching soccer and debuts the alcohol brand’s first female soccer ambassador, Alex Scott. With the campaign, Heineken is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to correcting gender bias in soccer. The brand purchased key AdWords around popular soccer questions so female soccer achievements are visible and launched Fresher Football, a website that corrects questions around the UEFA champions league, highlighting data around female games and players.
The girls are fighting—and inadvertently demonstrating the limitations of defamation suits. Johnny Depp and model Blac Chyna have sued Amber Heard and the Kardashians, respectively, alleging that public mischaracterizations and accusations of violence have stunted their careers (Heard also countersued). While civil suits have long served as a go-to means of reputation management for public figures, the often embarrassing coverage of these recent cases highlights that in an ultrafast news cycle, they’re liable to do more harm than good.
The great Cola Wars may find a new battleground in the metaverse. The rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is a cultural pillar and has influenced advertising since the 60s. As they both try to find footing with their digital branding in the metaverse, is there room for a truce? In our physical world both companies are facing similar criticisms over the respective plastic contribution. Will one of the soda brands raise the white flag and partner with the other to tackle sustainability?
TikTok is starting to share ad revenue with top creators when their videos run alongside certain ads in a new program called TikTok Pulse. Approved creators with over 100,000 followers are eligible to receive a 50 percent cut of the ad revenue. This new program follows criticism of the creator fund, the only way TikTok creators were being paid from the app, for being inconsistent across payment amounts and frequencies.
In case you missed these stories this week.
Bored Ape’s sale of virtual land this weekend was so popular that it crashed ethereum.
Every few years, there seems to be a plagiarism scandal that takes a news organization by storm. Turns out it was NBC News’ year.
Karine Jean Pierre has been announced to be the next White House press secretary. “She will be the first black woman and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to serve as the White House Press Secretary,” current secretary Jen Psaki said. “Representation matters and she will give a voice to many, but also make many dream big about what is truly possible.”
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print: This week’s newsletter is brought to you by just another Twitter user, who’s throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks during these trying times.