Borkowski Weekly Media Trends 10-06-22
Prince William's Big Issue Stunt | Big Tech's Big Reckoning? | Norwich City's Pride Own Goal | Dall-E Memes | TikTok Crisis Medley
Welcome to Trends!
Before you continue, make sure to read Mark's post on the Royal Family's latest PR blitz, which saw William donning a Big Issue vest. Mark writes that the latest stunt shows 'William's rule will be characterized by a willingness to discuss the real issues, to get out and listen to peoples’ woes, and to project empathy...'
“No longer the powerful symbol of the stoic emotional reserve, the activities of a modern PR machine will drag the monarchy to speak and act with clear values at the forefront of their self-fashioning.”
Check out the full post here:
And in other Trends...
The beginning of the end for Big Tech's dominance?
The likes of Amazon & Alphabet are approaching DEFCON 5 - deep into one of the most intense lobbying exercises ever as Congress gears up to vote on legislation that will severely disrupt Big Tech's stranglehold on its competition. Tech Giants are targeting a "self-preferencing" bill that, if passed, will prevent companies like Facebook from having "monopoly power" in the market for social networking. Currently Big Tech maintains its colossal data advantage to "acquire, copy or kill" nascent threats and has been taking aim at any potential competition for years.
They are so worried about these antitrust reforms that one of Amazon's vice presidents (Dharmesh Mehta) took to a popular forum to lobby third-party sellers. However his attempt to turn the tide backfired as many sellers disputed Amazon's argument and said they intended to support the legislation.
This long-overdue attempt to curb Big Tech's dominance comes at an intriguing time with increased chatter and work to shift the internet to the age of 'Web3' after these companies have conquered the web and its consumers for financial supremacy. Are we approaching the peak of Tech Giant's market dominance? And reputationally, it's difficult to imagine how companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google can survive this lose-lose scenario. If Congress passes the bill, we might see a series of subsequent actions against them, impeding their power. On the other hand if their lobbying pays off and the bill fails, questions will arise about the methods they took to get what they want, along with swathes of negative PR. It's too early to tell, but certainly one to follow.
Norwich City’s Pride Own Goal
One of the lesser spotted repercussions of the rise of ‘woke’ and its reactionary backlash is the PR crisis caused by a well meaning but socio-culturally illiterate attempt to espouse ‘woke’ values.
Example? Step forward Norwich City Football Club, ye of “let’s be ‘avin’ you” fame and Alan Partridge proximity, with a wince-inducing Pride Month attempt to condemn homophobia in football.
The club released an artwork consisting of graffiti depicting homophonic slurs that they would then ‘scrub out’ to demonstrate that there was no place for such bigotry in football.
The only problem was that the still image of the unadulterated slurs was all that made it into the public consciousness, giving the unintended impression that Norwich was actively propagating homophobia rather than condemning it as it trended amid a maelstrom of derision and calls to apologise and retract the campaign.
Norwich made several mistakes here two of which stick out in particular:
A misunderstanding of social media’s lack of space for full context (and mercy or patience for unfortunate optics). If you can't clearly see the message at face value then chances are most social media casuals won't take the time to understand it…
A misunderstanding of its young, ‘woke’ target market for the campaign - who would either have found even the artwork's intended message blindingly obvious or been too bent-double with hilarity to register its impact.
As our radars for virtue-signalling, pinkwashing and queerbaiting get more sensitive, Pride Month becomes ever rockier terrain for brands looking to score cheap morality points and Norwich’s blunder shows what happens for those who overthink and undercook their response.
Dall-E: Meme-ification of AI art shows it’s here to stay
AI is playing an increasing role in the creative industries; a human-made template and a clear brief allow certain machine learning programmes to create large and more expansive artworks and worlds than humans could ever create manually.
The general public has now had a chance to sample the potential of this medium through a miniature browser-based version of one such programme, the pithily-named Dall-E.
This being 2022 and the internet being the internet, our primary initial use for the platform has been to generate memes which, while it may seem a trivial and superficial use of a very clever programme, is probably a sign that it’s here to stay.
Meme culture is in some ways the bedrock of the media and creative industries and, in our increasingly anguish-ridden and polarised times, seen as a low maintenance way to engage in the evolution of culture and the technologies driving it.
So just as basic photo and video editing drove the memes in the Facebook and early Reddit eras, and then Instagram and TikTok have familiarised us with AR (e.g. filters) and multimedia curation such as music and voiceovers, today’s image of Minions attacking the Capitol is tomorrow’s cultural cornerstone.
TikTok making headlines
From news criticising TikTok's toxic work culture, Johnny Depp gaining 10 million followers in a day, and a Disney employee stifling a romantic engagement and going viral for the wrong reasons, it's been a hectic week for the social media platform.
Johnny Depp: For months TikTok's algorithm has flooded us with Depp content, including moments on trial, historical acting performances and spottings in public, from petting rescue animals to trips to the pub. But even before his rollercoaster 2022, Depp boasted a passionate and immense fanbase, proven when his team set up a personal TikTok account, securing over 10 million followers in less than a day.
His first 'appreciation post' thanked his loyal fans who supported him through thick and thin. The Depp v Heard case showcases the power of TikTok, the ability to change a narrative and control one, as loyal fans disseminate unverified information to Depp's advantage.
Disney: Ever planned on proposing at the Disney Resort? Well think again! A jobsworth Disney employee went viral after ruining a couple's proposal by snatching the ring mid-kneel, moving them away from a restricted area.
Ultimately the error cost Disney as they felt obliged to apologise, following swathes of criticism on social media demanding they correct the viral mishap.
While Disney's swift apology was well managed, it shows how a trivial action can lead to millions criticising a company. In a world where very little is private, reputations can be tarnished in seconds when a disgruntled customer uploads straight to TikTok
TikTok Work Culture: Toxic work environment - sadly, a story told far too often. TikTok Shop, a department of TikTok HQ in London, has made news for its toxic culture and high staff turnover. It caused major headlines when the TikTok manager at the centre of the storm commented that he "didn't believe" in maternity leave.
This has resulted in TikTok announcing he is stepping back and overhauling the department. But the damage is done, and in a hyper-competitive job market, stories of toxic work culture will make hiring for even big tech giants like TikTok a significant challenge.