Borkowski Weekly Media Trends 07-05-21

Wills & Kate's Revenge | Snoop Dogg's NFT Dropp Fail | Liverpool Rave Experiment & The New Teenagers

Social Media Royal Rumble: The Cambridges strike back

As we well know, ‘The Firm’ has been in overdrive for the past year as the fallout between the Sussex’s and the palace reached a crescendo. But this week has proved to be especially busy for Kensington Palace’s social media team.

It’s not an easy gig. Despite having 12.9m and passionate fanbase, Kate and Wills’ are in a sticky situation: They should, in theory, be representing the new generation of royals, the ones to modernise the palace and bring the monarchy into the future. But instead they stand contrasted against Harry and Meghan, whose rebellion against royalty has seen them embrace all kinds of newness: Netflix, podcasts, even jobs in Silicon Valley.

It’s a Catch-22: Any attempt from Kate and Will at fresh, relatable royalty will only ever feel conservative compared to Meghan and Harry, yet a failure to compete could cost them their relevance and, potentially, the monarchy’s survival.

Cue those in charge of the Cambridge’s online presence, who this week have brandished a new YouTube channel and a change of Instagram handle in the fight to boost Kate and Will’s reputation. The trailer for the YouTube channel features candid clips of Kate and Will making off-camera jokes, whilst the change of Instagram handle from @kensingtonroyals to @dukeandduchessofcambridge is a small but significant shade less formal. Viewed in isolation, these feel like smart moves for the Royal brand. Yet the Sussexes loom, and in their shadow Kate and Will’s attempts at relatability and social media savviness feel dangerously close to contrived.

It would be wise now for the Cambridge’s (and their advisers) to stay in their lane. If following their audiences means taking to YouTube, so be it. But venturing too far out of their comfort zone, into Meghan and Harry’s territory, could leave them looking like fools – as tempting as it may seem.

Snoop Dogg’s Failed NFT Dropp

As the NFT boom approaches bubble bursting territory, it’s important to take stock of this bizarre whirlwind ride. We have seen some brilliant examples of how NFTs have been ‘dropped’ successfully, but of course where there’s money to be made there will also be those that look to exploit the trend. There’s a PR axiom that you know a trend is reaching peak hype when celebrities or brands start rushing to get involved and failing badly. And there’s a universal cultural truth that when Snoop Dogg is getting involved, you know you’re at some kind of breaking point.

Yes, Snoop Doog – legendary West Coast rapper, the man notorious for rocking up on any feature for a substantial pay-check (including those Just Eat adverts and a musical collab with the one and only Corey Feldman), has dipped his toes in the NFT space. “A Journey With The Dogg” dropped in April which included original tracks (one titled “NFT”) along with the tracks, artworks inspired by Snoop’s life.

According to those in the know (and the Twitter comments), things did not go to plan.

This isn’t the first terrible NFT drop nor will it be the last, but as huge sums of money are being thrown at this space, it continues to muddy the waters and becomes increasingly difficult to understand what has value, and what’s a tactic to make a quick buck.

Ironically, in years to come, the bad NFTs could become collectible. What is clear is that the reporting on NFT and analysis on these drops lack coherent analysis leaving most of us scratching our heads.

Most major publications have yet to truly unpick this digital trend, but the space is in desperate need of maturity. Whilst there are signs that is happening in certain places, with Soulja Boy, Paris Hilton and Eminem cashing in on this incredibly complex technology, best be cautious not to get caught up in the hype.

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Liverpool Rave Experiment gave us first glimpse of teenagers post-COVID

We’d like to end this week’s trends by briefly drawing your attention to an astonishing photo, surely one of the most emblematic of our times. On the surface, there is nothing out of the ordinary about it: two teenagers at a rave, locked in embrace, while others direct their attention toward the DJ booth. It could easily be a throwaway photo from the series ‘Euphoria’. However, this photo was taken in far from ordinary circumstances. It comes from the COVID safety pilot event in Liverpool, which saw 6,000 partygoers serving as guinea pigs for Public Health England. These teenagers, so seemingly oblivious to their surroundings, are lab rats.

Could there be a better symbol for teenagerdom in the age of the COVID crisis? As countless articles have recently pointed out, families, but especially families with teens, have been under extreme duress for the past fifteen months. Some are at the point of breaking; other young people, parents worry, are frighteningly resigned and adapted to their predicament. Does this image offer the hope of the experiment’s success, which might herald a return to a (Public Health England-approved) intimacy for Britain’s young people? Or does it only represent the strangeness of trying to go about one’s formative romantic experiences under the strain of our collective watchfulness, our weariness, and the anxious supervision of a nation?

The Liverpool experiment attracted kids who craved freedom, no doubt, but others describe the ‘surreal’ atmosphere of the Potemkin rave and the just-suppressed feeling that these fellow party-ers were, in no uncertain sense, health volunteers. Against this backdrop, it is all the more moving—to me at least—that this image was captured for history, and that these two found a moment to be close, to defiantly breathe on one another, and forget, even for just that moment, the total bizarreness of their situation.

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