Out of Scope Issue 81: The Art of the Goodbye
London Bridge is Down and a sports GOAT bids farewell
This week, we said goodbye to several greats: Tennis champ Serena Williams, the Queen of England, women’s coworking space The Wing, and masks on the NYC subway system.
💡ON OUR MINDS:
A GOAT Retires
We bid farewell to two queens this month. One of court, one of country. Tennis superstar Serena Williams is beginning a new chapter and globally respected Queen Elizabeth II passed away after decades of public service, and there's something to learn from their deftly crafted goodbyes.
Serena’s exit was much the same as her arrival on the tennis scene - completely on her own terms. From her contributed byline detailing her retirement plans post-US Open to grow her family and focus on Serena Ventures, her venture capital firm that has already funded MasterClass, Impossible Foods, and Noom.
It’s clear Serena’s influence will endure even though she’s no longer competing on the WTA. Consider the marketing value she has brought across industries – from sports brands like Nike (whose latest ad pays tribute to Serena’s legendary career) and ESPN (who announced Serena’s last match was ESPN's most-watched tennis match in its 43-year history), to other top tier sponsors like Delta and JPMorgan, and even social networking and news discourse brands like Twitter.
Serena will be forever revered in the sports world for not only her GOAT status, but her impact on social justice. She shed light on the racism, double standards, and the unfair treatment she and her sister Venus endured while building a career in a traditionally elitist sport. And as Bloomberg writes, she “defined a new era of tennis and inspired sponsors to take female athletes more seriously.”
A Plan Set in Motion
Queen Elizabeth II has reached the end of her reign - and a plan decades in the making has finally been set in motion. “London Bridge is Down,” the code phrase to announce her death, also refers to the very careful plan of communication and transition for the days following.
Several elements of the plan were determined down to the minute - and a digital plan with social and web experiences was also set in motion. Within about 5 minutes of the announcement, the royal.uk website was taken down for quick updates to reflect the change of power and the official days of mourning.
Much less swift will be the cascade of changes to physical objects, official turns of phrase, and more across the Commonwealth realms, which includes 14 countries that recognize the British monarchy as their sovereign - Canada, Australia, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and more.
Not all reactions, however, are positive - many are using this moment to highlight the failings of the centuries-old institution of the monarchy. Black Twitter and Irish TikTok, of note, have even been celebratory, calling out the queen’s direct participation in colonialism.
🏆BRAND ??? OF THE WEEK: Olivia Wilde (and her film)
Don’t Worry Darling, a psychological thriller directed by Oliva Wilde, debuted at the Venice Film Festival this week…. let’s just say the premiere spectacle was a psychological thriller in and of itself.
In recent weeks, film connoisseurs and the extremely online haven’t been able to escape the messiness of Don’t Worry Darling’s press rollout. For the uninformed, a quick recap:
An on-set romance between Wilde and heartthrob-turned-leading-man Harry Styles (note: see Styles’ song Cinema) prompted a flurry of blind items and questions surrounding the production and Wilde’s personal life.
Actress Florence Pugh, then, allegedly struggled throughout the production, both with Wilde’s direction and concerns surrounding her initial co-star and current industry pariah Shia LaBeouf, who was replaced by Styles.
Then, while Wilde’s press team has spent the past few months trying to position her as a feminist hero who fired LaBeouf from the film to protect Pugh, it came to a screeching halt when LaBeouf shared his own receipts (and a now infamous video of Wilde) claiming he left voluntarily.
With everyone’s eyes on the red carpet, the mess culminated with allegations that Styles, Mr. Treat People With Kindness himself, had spit on co-star Chris Pine in plain sight as a result of the tension. While both parties have since denied the incident, it speaks to just how far the narrative has spun out of control and how hungry the public is for further chaos.
While Hollywood loves to tout “all press is good press,” in this instance, we have to disagree, primarily when it comes to Wilde.
Following her debut film Booksmart, Wilde was viewed by studios as a promising female director with a fresh perspective and penchant for biting social commentary – so much so that when DWD was announced it set off a bidding war across 18(!) studios. Two years later, her reputation seems to be in shambles.
While most of the harm can be attributed to putting-her-foot-in-her-mouth syndrome, we can’t ignore that misogyny has played an impactful supporting role. And to that we say, internet, be better, and next time darling, perhaps just say less.
📡 ON OUR RADAR
Juul is officially set to pay $439 million in a settlement over its marketing to teens. Additionally, new rules will restrict marketing imagery featuring people under age 35, in-store displays, set up a retail compliance check protocol, and limit online and retail sales.
Amazon’s new The Lord of the Rings TV series features a diverse cast that some are celebrating, while others are criticizing the “woke-ifying” of the story’s Middle-earth setting. Even Elon Musk weighed in, whose criticism of diverse representation in a mythical universe doesn’t exactly send an inclusive message to his employees in the real world.
This week, country singer Maren Morris called out fellow singer Jason Aldean’s wife, Brittany, for a transphobic joke on Instagram - landing her on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. Carlson called her a “lunatic country music person,” which Morris promptly printed on t-shirts to sell on her website, raising more than $100,000 for LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD.
Controversial site Kiwi Farms has been shuttered by Internet infrastructure company CloudFlare, bowing to a public pressure campaign. The site gained notoriety as a hub for organized harassment campaigns, particularly towards transgender and feminist public figures. The website’s removal is a first of its kind in Internet operations, with even the Internet Archive scrubbing the site from its records.
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of failed blood testing startup, Theranos, is requesting a retrial after being charged with fraud earlier this year. A few weeks ago, star witness and former Theranos lab director, Adam Rosendorff, stopped by Elizabeth’s home to express the guilt he has felt around his role in the trial. According to Adam, the government “twisted his testimony,” to make things seem worse than they actually were. Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila declined to overturn the guilty verdict, and she is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
When a global healthcare conglomerate touting a family-friendly reputation is responsible for infants falling ill due to their powdered formula, it's a recipe for disaster. The scrutiny is new, but sadly the phenomenon isn't. Abbott Laboratories uses the tried and true approach of scorched earth legal tactics to preserve the brand's reputation by raising doubts and casting blame. It's common practice for corporations prone to self-preservation. The question is, will it always work?
A new wave of college freshmen are doubling as interior designers, with some spending up to $10,000 to achieve the perfect, Tik-Tok approved dorm room. Whether they’re hiring professionals or going the DIY route, students are going above and beyond - covering up dark carpeting and cinder block walls - to establish their own aesthetic.
In a struggle to marry cheeky marketing and a revised public health message, NY’s MTA launched an ad this week highlighting masks are no longer required on transit, merely recommended. The ad itself tries to parody an early-pandemic graphic, but in doing so, suggests that wearing a mask improperly is a valid option. To quote the MTA, we say “you do you” for your mask wearing choices– but if you’re going to wear a mask, you might as well do it correctly.
Retailers take note: "Inclusive sizing" is the future. What you market and how you communicate it can be equally as important. "Inclusive sizing" is one of the biggest trends in retail, leaving fashion brands scrambling to extend women's clothing lines well beyond the traditional offerings. With younger generations embracing body positivity, the term "plus size" and its negative connotations are rapidly being banished.
The trendy women-only coworking spot The Wing has officially closed its six remaining locations. It was never smooth sailing for the company–there were claims of racist incidents, unfair maternity leave, and other internal issues–but its ship has now officially sunk amidst a pandemic and global economic downturn.
In case you missed these stories this week.
47 years after its premiere, Jaws was a box office hit this past weekend after National Cinema Day’s $3 ticket promotion sent fans flocking to the silver screen.
AOC made history this week as the first female politican to grace the cover of GQ for a conversation about gender, masculinity, and politics.
Kim Kardashian is launching a private-equity firm, making us wonder…just what is the limit to what she and her team can do?
This week, we bid farewell to the creator of the term “glass ceiling,” Marilyn Loden. The term has been instrumental in defining a pervasive problem - and unfortunately, lives on more than 50 years after she coined the phrase.
Over $30 million in cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean hackers has been recovered by the United States - only a fraction of the total amount, but a massive success all the same.
We’ll see you here next week! 👋
The fine print: today’s issue is brought to you by Lea Michelle’s Internet-breaking, prophecy-fulfilling debut in “Funny Girl" this week.