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🤫 Crypto celebs have no comment
May 19, 2022
PLUS: Why flight prices are sky-high, and RIP to the pickle king.
Looking for a snack that matches your taste for dope beats? Look no further than a new collab between Cheez-It and Pandora. The cheese used to make the crackers is aged to hip-hop music, which one Swiss study says improves taste and smell.
In today’s email:
Crypto celebs: Why so quiet all of a sudden?
Robert Vlasic: RIP to a pickle king.
Sky-high: Flying ain’t cheap right now.
Around the web: Breakfast recipes, a presidential record collection, comparing Wikis, and more cool internet finds.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear Jacob and Juliet discuss why crypto celebs have stopped preaching the gospel, Target’s secret side gig, the pickle industry’s big loss, and much more.
The big idea
Where’d crypto’s celebrity boosters go?
During cryptocurrency’s rocketship rise, big-name celebs joined the frenzy, appearing in numerous ads for crypto platforms.
But with crypto prices falling to recent lows, crypto’s biggest spenders are cutting back, and celebrity boosters are going quiet, per The New York Times.
… crypto trading platforms like Crypto.com and FTX went on a spending spree to increase their reach and attract new users:
FTXspent $135m on a 19-year deal to take over naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena in March 2021
Crypto.com followed by spending $700m to take over naming rights for the Staples Center for 20 years in November
As part of the arms race, both companies enlisted top-tier talent to spread the gospel. FTX promoters include Larry David and Steph Curry, while Crypto.com worked with Matt Damon and LeBron James.
But falling prices…
… means cutting costs. Both companies have tapered spending in response to the market’s turbulence:
Crypto.com cut digital ad spending from $109k per day in March to $24.7k per day in May
FTX cut its digital ad spending from $26.4k per day in March to $14.7k per day in May
As for the celebrity boosters? They’ve generally gone silent. When asked for a response by the NYT, Damon, James, and David had no comment.
They don’t understand crypto. At least according to Jeff Schaffer, who directed David’s crypto commercial for FTX. He says they just wanted to make a funny commercial.
Critics argue the stars should be more transparent about the risk involved, especially after a study from the University of Chicago found that younger, lower-income groups are more likely to believe in the promise of crypto.
On the other end, defenders say that just because a celebrity endorses something doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. For example, you wouldn’t let Snoop Dogg convince you to buy Hot Pockets, would you? Oh, you would? Yeah, me too.
Closing bell: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell ~1.2k points, marking its worst single-day drop since June 2020. The sell-off was attributed to rising costs reported by retailers, highlighting the impact of inflation.
Free man: Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive nicknamed the “Pharma bro” after raising the price of one of his drugs by over 4k% in 2015, is out of prison. He served four years for securities fraud, and will complete his sentence in a halfway house.
Come again? Jeff Bezos noticeably shifted from his conservative public tone on Twitter, making some particularly crass replies to tweets yesterday.
Credit due: TikTok is working on a new feature that will help creators link back to original videos where trends started.
Silly geese: Foster City, California, is proposing a controversial plan to euthanize hundreds of geese after being terrorized by excessive amounts of poop. Other strategies to keep the geese at bay (including strobe lights and dogs) have failed.
Search interest for “wheat straw plates”is way up. Access the Trends report to learn about product opportunities in the space, like one plate that’s grossing 80% profit margins.
Off target: Citing inflation and supply chain issues, Target reported a 52% decrease in Q1 profits, resulting in a nearly 25% drop in shares. #ecommerce-retail
Google’s new Bay View campus is temperature-controlled by the biggest geothermal installation in North America. It derives power from a solar roof and a nearby wind farm. #clean-energy
Ohio is considering a bill that would make it illegal to use electronic devices, like Apple AirTags, to track people without their consent. #emerging-tech
Actor Seth Green announced he was the victim of a phishing attack that resulted in four stolen NFTs, including one Bored Ape, two Mutant Apes, and a Doodle. He’d like it if you didn’t buy them. #fintech-crypto
TikTok’s new “Branded Mission” allows brands to solicit content from creators. Participants must be 18+ and have at least 1k followers, and will receive cash if selected. #big-tech
RIP to a pickle giant
There’s a good chance that when you think of pickles, you think of a blue-and-green jar of Vlasic kosher dills.
Started by Croatian immigrant Joseph Vlasic, the Vlasic brand was handed down to his son, Robert, in 1963.
It was a smart growth play: By 1974, per capita US pickle consumption hit eight pounds, up 4x from the 1930s.
Under Robert’s leadership, Vlasic expanded to 96 kinds of pickles, peppers, relishes, and sauerkrauts. It eventually was taken over by Conagra Brands after going bankrupt as a spinoff from Campbell Soup.
The original meme king
“We decided we didn’t want to take ourselves or our business too seriously,” Vlasic toldThe New York Times in 1974.
In practice, according to Vlasic, that meant spending more on marketing than the rest of the pickle industry combined.
Over the years, Vlasic gathered pickle jokes — ones like, “Why did the pickle close its eyes? It saw the salad dressing” — which he eventually made into a book. “There’s nothing very serious about a pickle,” Vlasic once said.
Earlier this month, on May 8, Robert Vlasic passed away at the age of 96.
Mastering media and content planning in 2022
Emails, videos, podcasts, blog posts, socials, memes…
Eager to take a trip this summer? If you’re planning to travel by plane, it’s going to cost you.
The price of plane tickets increased by 18.6% during April — the biggest one-month spike in the history of the Consumer Price Index, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and domestic airfare prices are up 40% since January.
… have risen ~33% in the past year, significantly outpacing the 8% annual inflation rate. Several forces are colliding to produce this sh*tstorm:
High fuel prices: Jet fuel in the US costs ~2x last year’s price, partly due to the war in Ukraine and the ban on Russian oil imports. That cost gets passed on to you, the flier.
Staffing shortages: Major airlines don’t have enough pilots and flight attendants to staff planes, which means more flight cancellations and higher prices for available tickets.
Pent-up demand: Americans are ready to travel again, after delaying vacations for months or years because of covid. People have been willing to shell out the dough, despite spiking prices.
Carriers capitalizing: Covid devastated the airline industry and execs are desperate to make up for lost profits.
What can I do to avoid getting gouged?
Scott Keyes, the flight deal expert behind Scott’s Cheap Flights, suggests heading abroad instead of traveling within the US this summer.
International travel is down 20%-40% — partly due to the hassle of needing to test negative for covid before re-entering the US — so deals can be found.
And if you can defer that domestic flight until after Labor Day, you might start seeing prices drop.
AROUND THE WEB
🎪 On this day: In 1884, the Ringling Brothers opened their first circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
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