Out of Scope Issue 75: The Future of Instagram Hangs in the Balance
Plus: American K-pop and TikTok’s pink sauce.
This week, we look at how the Internet has been collectively roasting Instagram, SoulCycle’s latest marketing campaign poking at Peloton, and the viral “Pink Sauce” taking over TikTok.
💡ON OUR MINDS:
What’s the deal with Instagram?
The Internet is not happy with Instagram. And even some of the platform’s most followed accounts have noticed (read: Kim K and Kylie Jenner).
Users are complaining that their experience feels a little too similar to TikTok, with more reels and less photos of their friends.
It all started with a post from 21-year-old Instagram influencer, Tatiana Bruening, urging the platform to bring back the “OG IG”, which has now garnered over 2.2 million likes and counting. A petition was even started on Change.org to “Make Instagram, Instagram Again.”
Our ears perked up when the online chatter reached such a fever pitch that Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, put out a video to address the critics and emphasize that Instagram will continue with video innovations as the platform expands.
This begs the question: Are legacy social media platforms doomed to suffer a perpetual identity crisis? Some can argue that they’ll chase viewership numbers by any means necessary. Even if that means upsetting loyal users.
But when new apps like BeReal and other stalwarts like Snapchat are taking precious market share, of course everyone wants to compete for eyeballs.
Moral of this story – just because consumers make enough noise online, doesn’t always mean that will impact the company strategy.
When the past comes back to haunt
Trevor Project’s CEO Amit Paley faced hot water from employees this week, Teen Vogue reports. While working for McKinsey, Paley consulted Purdue Pharma on how to boost its brand and increase opioid sales — which took place after the impact of the opioid crisis became public knowledge.
Now staff say that his role at Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, is in direct conflict with the goals of his former role for Purdue Pharma. Some are calling for him to resign.
In response, Paley sent around an internal email with the following message, according to Teen Vogue: “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have agreed to do any consulting work for [Purdue] and I regret that I did.” The chair of Trevor Project’s board of directors, Gina Muñoz, was also quoted in the email, saying that as the Trevor Project grows, they’ll face media and external attacks.
The response to this email seems to be mixed. Some feel that both messages deflect blame. Others feel there is room for forgiveness.
Will this reputation damage impact Paley’s ability to lead the Trevor Project through continued growth? To what extent does Paley’s past influence the positive impact Trevor Project has for youth? Regardless of where you stand on these questions, the clear takeaway is that it’s unwise to ignore how impactful employees are as a stakeholder group.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
The latest in the Twitter vs. Elon Musk saga? Twitter reported a revenue decline in Q2 earnings this week and pointed directly to the ongoing acquisition process as a reason. While certainly public feuds that drive headlines can impact stock prices, brand leaders may find it convenient from a messaging perspective to have something to pin it on.
In the latest celebrity products, Mariah Carey launched a line of cookies, which as reported by The Takeout primarily come from delivery-only "ghost kitchens" of varying quality - including some gas stations. Does there need to be a relevant tie to the celeb’s personal branded product or will their name alone drive sales? We are inclined to believe the latter, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
In an effort to find the “next global girl group,” Republic Records and Federal Films announced they will be joining forces in a joint venture titled America2Korea, or A2K. But will the K-pop system – known (and criticized) for its grueling, “factorylike” training – effectively translate to America? Our first instinct was to think otherwise, but then again, Dance Moms is a thing.…
TikTok has a new weird viral product that is not exactly tickling us pink. The pink sauce appeared first in @chef.pii's post, and has since spun out into a viral frenzy fueled by a resounding "wait, what?". Users puzzling over the possible ingredients, the confusing serving size, and the general hue of the condiment have made the sauce a strange fad. It seems a product need not make sense for it to become a flavor of the week these days.
Disney’s Hulu faces an ad-blocking challenge, after coming under fire this week for flip-flopping their protocol on what kind of political ads they will allow to run on the platform. First they blocked several political ads surrounding hot-button topics. Then they quickly pivoted to align with Disney’s overall guidelines, which do allow issue and candidate ads. After a tumultuous year, we can understand why Disney leaders may have wanted to stay out of the headlines and appeal to broader audiences.
SoulCycle's latest marketing campaign shows no mercy towards its direct competitor, Peloton. By offering a handful of free, in-studio classes in exchange for used Peloton bikes, SoulCycle’s “Souls Reunited program” capitalizes on at-home workout fatigue and the return of in-person activities.
Former Chief Creative Officer for Wieden+Kennedy, Colleen DeCourcy, joined Snapchat to try and make “the best known, least understood” social platform well, better understood. We’ll see what kind of stories she helps them tell.
In case you missed these stories this week.
When life imitates art – this company turns bad national park reviews into beautiful illustrations.
“No interns were fired in the making of this tweet.” The rogue social media manager (think: Duolingo and RadioShack) is now a valid brand strategy that’s here to stay.
Google decides cookies are staying…a little while longer, anyway. They originally announced that cookies would phase out by 2023.
Saudi Arabia announced plans for a vertical city with a hype video, and it looks like something out of a sci-fi film.
Do layoffs in the tech industry indicate wider-spread layoffs are coming? This LinkedIn economist says wait and see.
This cool visual history shows how American Sign Language has evolved to keep up with today’s digital world (spoiler alert - the sign for “phone” has changed significantly over the years).
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print: This week’s newsletter is brought to you by the death of the Choco Taco…RIP