An angel on a Harley

November 7, 2019

November 7, 2019



Happy Thursday, y’all. We can’t quite explain it, but these shortening days had us daydreaming about summer nights and tasty summer Aperol spritzes [insert trendy cocktail brand here]… 

Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves (or are we?). Today, fake news undergoes an interesting evolution and Katy Perry offers Harley-Davidson an unlikely solution. Read on.

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Harley-Davidson’s teenage (and 20-something) dream has come true

Harley-Davidson is finally reaching the younger audiences that all legacy brands strive for. The secret? 

It got lucky: Katy Perry recorded a hit song with its name in the title. Her song “Harleys in Hawaii” is rising up the charts, and Harley-Davidson is getting a much-needed kick-start.

But it wasn’t an endorsement…

According to The New York Times, Harley-Davidson did nothing to woo Perry. She wrote the song after a Hawaii trip with fiancé Orlando Bloom. The company just provided motorcycles for the pop star’s music video.  

Although artists team with brands to pitch nearly everything — yes, you, Travis Scott and Reese’s Puffs they rarely go all-in on a brand organically. In the mid-’80s, Run D.M.C. released “My Adidas” and then scored an endorsement deal with the brand.  

Many times, brands hate being mentioned in popular culture without their input. Polo freaked out at Trick Daddy in the late ’90s for constantly rapping about wearing its jeans. Jaguar worried when a character on Mad Men attempted to kill himself in one of its cars.

But Harley will let this one ride

Besides, what’s there to complain about? “Harleys in Hawaii” has been viewed and streamed more than 30m times since its release last month.

The popularity amounts to the best kind of free advertising — from an influencer. The famed macho motorcycle maker is now reaching women and younger consumers.

Harley can use the lift. Profits have slid, and it closed a major plant this year.   

But after a dose of Perry, perhaps this ol’ “Dark Horse” brand will “Roar” again… 

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This week’s Signal Powder Sunscreen graph

Powder Sunscreen

Despite the importance of sun protection, people still aren’t sold on oily lotions. Powder sunscreen, which uses the same ingredients as the lotion variety, rests on top of your skin rather than infiltrating your pores. What’s next? Perhaps scalp spray and new kinds of sunscreen sticks. 

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The news is fake. The audience is fake. But the ad dollars are real.

In case you were wondering, the business of fake news is alive and well… and now most of its readers are fake, too. 

A new report from BuzzFeed reveals that several fake newspapers — including the Albany Daily News in New York and the City of Edmonton News in Canada — used elaborate fake news sites and what experts believe to be fake readers to generate oodles of ad money.

It’s a new kind of fake news

And unlike other types of fake news that were designed to mislead readers and impact their behavior in elections, this new breed is designed instead to bilk advertisers out of ad dollars.

It works like this: Fraudsters create fake local news sites and then flood them with a mixture of (most likely fake) traffic so they look realistic to advertisers. Then, once the fraudsters start selling ads, they crank up the fake traffic — and pocket all the ad money.

In August, the Albany Daily News raked in 10m page views — about 5x as many as the real, 160-year-old Albany Times Union

It’s simple… it’s brilliant… it’s bullsh*t

And yet big brands still paid to serve these ads: Hilton, Sephora, Best Buy, Microsoft, Home Depot, Geico, and Google all ran ads on the fake sites.

So, how’d they get duped? Well, their partners got duped — and since brand ads travel through a long funnel of 3rd parties before appearing live on the web, many of these brands likely had no idea they were paying for fake news readers on fake news sites.  

Many of the ads on these sites were sold on ad exchanges belonging to Google, AppNexus, Taboola, and Outbrain.

Want to read more on the fake news economy? Check out this Hustle profile of one of the country’s biggest fake news purveyors.

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Things you should…

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Which historic booze will be the next Aperol? Here are some contenders

#Spritzlife had a moment. The boozy, bright orange drinks were recently so popular that The New York Times bashed them.

Aperol spritzes — which have been popular in Italy for years — bubbled to popularity in America thanks to an ad campaign run by the Campari Group, which owns Aperol.

But it didn’t take long for the spritz hangover to set in

After Aperol sent the Campari Group’s stock price up more than 360% over the past few years, stock prices slumped 15% between May and October, largely due to waning interest in the cocktail.

And now, the race to mix up the next hot #cocktail is on…

And a number of corporate mixologists are getting involved in the search for the next trendy booze brand. 

Campari bought Aperol in 2003, but Aperol’s brand dates back to 1919. Campari leaned heavily on nostalgia when marketing Aperol to American drinkers, a signal that Aperol’s successor may also be a legacy booze brand.

Here are some vintage, lower-alcohol liquor brands that could pitch themselves as “the next Aperol”:

  • Lillet, a French aromatic wine-based aperitif that dates back to 1872, is owned by beverage giant Pernod Ricard.
  • Dubonnet, a French herbal tonic-wine brand that dates back to 1846, is favored by the Queen and also owned by Pernod Ricard.
  • Fernet-Branca, an Italian herbal liqueur brand that dates back to 1845, is still privately owned by the Branca family.

Now, only time will tell which of those drinks will be giving you a hangover next summer…

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What Else…

🍔 Uber Eats is hungry… for a bigger bite of revenue. Uber plans to sell ads in its Uber Eats app, according to TechCrunch. Uber lost $1B last quarter and hopes a super-sized bite of ad revenue will satisfy its enormous appetite. But, if Uber follows Yelp’s lead — and lives up to its own ruthless reputation — these ads could prove controversial among vendors.

British regulators say “not so fast.” The UK leads the US in the adoption of ultrafast digital payments. But British regulators are struggling to prevent fraud related to these nearly instantaneous transfers — and now they’re considering purposely slowing the whole system down.

➕➖ The math behind the streaming wars doesn’t add up. A new report from The Information points out that streaming services from Netflix, NBC, Disney, and Amazon are collectively forecasting 750m subscribers by the mid-2020s. But, accounting for 400m Chinese viewers, the entire global market is only 600m… Sounds like someone’s ’xaggerating.

💸 Robinhood’s arrow misses again. The financial services company, which widely missed the mark trying to roll out a checking account in 2018, recently developed a glitch that allowed users to trade based on an infinite amount of money. Umm… whoops.

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