Borkowski Weekly Media Trends 14-05-21

Elon Musk | Flo Rida x Eurovision | Emily In Paris 2.0 | Selfridge's Marriage Stunt

Elon Musk: Crypto’s Puppet Master

Elon’s ability to harness internet culture to his advantage has become a superpower. It has even spilled over to cryptocurrency and with it the power to drastically influence a £1.65T market. This influence is unprecedented (mostly due to regulation, or lack of in crypto world) showcased via Twitter. Elon’s tweets have caused surges and crashes in prices – like when Musk added #bitcoin to his Twitter bio spiking BTCs price by 20%.

At the end of March, he announced that consumers could buy a Tesla with a single bitcoin and that the payments wouldn’t be converted into traditional currency. This was the catalyst that pushed BTC to its all-time high of £46k per coin.

However, Musk shocked the crypto world again, announcing that Tesla will no longer support cryptocurrency due to their cost on our environment which has been heavily publicised and a major talking point in bitcoin’s recent bull run.

The electricity used in the process to mine Bitcoin has been understood by many for several years – including Musk and Tesla. This god-like control over the crypto market that Musk possesses could make him the richest man on the planet if he were to market the next eco-friendly coin or even setting up his own Tesla coin.

When he pairs his wealth with his superpower, it creates moments like his SNL appearance. Whilst it’s been reported that Musk’s net worth has taken a dive after the gig, dogecoin almost doubled in value afterwards.

If Elon can pump a memecoin like DOGE to a market cap of £50bn, think what he could do for a serious crypto project that doesn’t destroy the planet.

Eurovision Meet Flo Rida

Eurovision is a pop culture curio that has managed to transcend not only the transformation of the music industry beyond the wildest comprehension of its founders, but also several mega-tsunamis of changing socio-economic tides that have drastically altered the facade of Europe itself.

Part of Eurovision’s longevity has been its innate sense of showmanship; that killer instinct for media-friendly characters, big performance stunts and viral moments.

We’re referring chiefly to the competing countries but there’s Barnum DNA in the competition itself. The decision to admit Australia in 2015 was a stunt for the ages. Amid disbelieving headlines worldwide, it gave the competition a serious and energised new competitor, took it to a new audience and subtly underlined its LGBTQ+-friendliness (having been a cult phenomenon in the Aussie community for some years).

Then there was the decision to entrust the Eurovision brand to Will Ferrell for last lockdown’s outrageous Hollywood pastiche Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. It was a classic 00s style slacker comedy but a loving and knowing homage to the competition that won’t have done its international reputation any harm, not least in the USA.

For the countries themselves social issues and politics plays their part: Georgia’s thinly disguised anti-Vladimir Putin entry in 2009 came in the wake of its brief war with Russia the previous year. Four years later, and one year after the competition was controversially hosted by Azerbaijan, drawing attention to the less than sparkling LGBT rights credentials of some competitors, famously progressive Finland included a same-sex kiss during their performance. And in the competition’s most recent edition, in an action that will resonate with many currently, Iceland’s crunkcore rebels Hatari unfurled a Palestinian flag as their points were announced in a strong statement to their Israeli hosts.

But it’s not always political. Eurovision throws up stars, stories and performances that transcend the format. ABBA need no introduction, while Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst shot to lasting international stardom in 2014. Finland at once subverted and fully embraced the competition’s campness by unleashing masked heavy metal juggernaut (and convincing winners) Lordi in 2006. Ireland’s Colin the Turkey was a parodic lament at the impossibility of success in the competition, even for one of Eurovision’s historic superpowers, without a web of cultural or political allies to give you maximum points.

The stunts continue this year. San Marino (basically a medium-sized town that decided a couple of centuries before everyone else that it didn’t need a royal family) has made waves in the competition by qualifying for the Eurovision Finals twice in the past decade, finishing in the top 20 in 2019. This year they’re aiming even higher by enrolling Flo Rida in their entry (a collab with singer Senhit) and even teasing that he may make an appearance in the live show. Confusing? Slightly. Pointless? Almost certainly. Fun? It will be bloody joyous. Exactly the kind of nonsense that has allowed Eurovision to thrive as a cultural entity even as the world around it crumbles.

'Brigitte Macron just gave you a second season, b*tch!’

Netflix have announced the latest instalment of everybody’s favourite, Emily in Paris, by issuing a ‘formal letter’ from Emily’s employer, Sylvie, head of the fictional luxury brand Savoir, stating that Emily is required to remain in Paris for ANOTHER year.

The stunt has an air of innocence and just-enoughness about it that is totally appropriate to the whimsy of the show. It’s an announcement that fans will love, plunging them right back into the silly, light-hearted and harmlessly playful world of Emily in Paris.

In a similar vein, the return of Alan Partridge to BBC was announced in a ‘leaked’ internal memo in which Partridge triumphantly gloated and aired old grievances with colleagues to ‘clear the air’ before his arrival.

It’s clear why TV comms people would take to this kind of stunt: its adaptable, no-cost, and reminds fans of the personalities of their favourite characters ahead of new seasons. Though it might not work for all shows—I doubt anyone would find a leaked WhatsApp thread between two bent coppers a charming way to announce the Line of Duty reboot—it is a fun way to herald the return of a show people like, but don’t take too seriously.

Selfridge’s expands no returns policy

Selfridge’s is now a wedding venue! With an enormous backlog of delayed #coronaweddings, Selfridge’s has been granted a license to host weddings throughout the upcoming summer of love.

This will be good news for couples who want to marry outside of a church (or those who worship at the altar of Luxury Goods), and it shows a Selfridge’s responsive to the changing landscape of High Street shopping. Indeed, it’s an interesting time for commercial venues which are deemed ‘iconic’, and with a spat of high-profile closures throughout the pandemic, it’s very well may be time to adapt the function of at-risk department stores to preserve them in all their twentieth century glory.

At the very least, finding some fusion of commercial and ceremonial purposes seems a better outcome for these iconic structures than chopping them into flats and offices.