Borkowski Weekly Media Trends 17-12-21
Elon Musk 'Person of the Year' | Grandparental Leave | Nick Clegg's trip into the metaverse
TIME NAMES MUSK 'PERSON OF THE YEAR'
Time announced Elon Musk as their Person of the Year this week, which unsurprisingly caused mixed reactions. However, before overthinking this, it's important to note that Time has previously awarded the title to Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, Stalin, Hitler, and even more disturbingly, "you" (representing individual online content creators in 2006). And while Time says they grant the title for one's impact on events, Elon's victory still leaves a rancid taste in your mouth. Does the man need another ego boost? He already has an army of nerds hanging off his every word (or Tweet), and he's the world's richest person.
Musk may have built the market for electric cars forcing the entire automotive industry to pay attention to the climate crisis (so, Stalin is probably not a good comparison). But then again, he has devoted a lot of time criticising Covid restrictions while politicians are accusing him of not paying enough tax.
Ultimately, this new title adds another layer of untouchability to his armour. His commodification of memes and grasp of the culture has allowed him to cherry-pick Tweets to create a whirlwind of noise that distracts any valid criticism and turns it into a joke lasting about 48 hours. Again, take the Bernie Sanders example - he deflected valid criticism that he routinely faces into a big joke.
Musk is deeply flawed, but he's the most influential man on the planet who understands internet culture. It's a scary superpower to have and can continue to ignore those who oppose him. Unfortunately, at this point, he's unstoppable.
WILL GRANDPARENTAL LEAVE BECOME AN INDUSTRY STANDARD?
Want to know how to make news with a publicity stunt, while also doing something that is cool and helps people? Look no further than Saga’s recent announcement that it is offering paid leave for grandparents to celebrate (and help out) during the birth of new grandchild.
Combined with a suite of statistics about the changing workforce, demographic shifts, and the fact that about 40% of grandparents over the age of 50 provide regular childcare, the insurance company for over-50s has transformed what would have begun as a left-field idea into a spot of sweet, free publicity. And though the paid leave is only for a week, it will allow new omi and opas, yia yias, papous, nonnas and nonnos, abuelas, babushkas, and nan’s across its workforce to spend time supporting their children through a critical time.
This trend writer did some market research and asked his mom—herself a new grandparent—what she thought of the idea. The respondent said, ‘This is a very special idea. Anything that brings families together is a good thing.’ However, she drew the line at ‘pawternity leave’, which has recently been announced by major petfood brands (and BREWDOG) as a perk for those who adopt new pets. ‘That sounds like marketing to me’, she said.
Whatever your belief about the merits of such a pawlicy, it’s clear that extending the range of benefits for employees navigating key life moments is becoming increasingly popular as a way of attracting talent and simultaneously getting a PR boost. If it’s going to ring true, however, the benefit has to solve a problem people actually have, be responsive to employees’ priorities, and not be too gimmicky.
DID NICK CLEGG'S INTERVIEW DO META ANY FAVOURS?
We had a look into how a meeting might unfold in the metaverse, courtesy of Meta when the FT interviewed Nick Clegg, and it hasn't done Meta any favours.
The short 12-second clip shows Clegg cursing his "wretched headset" in a somewhat comical twist, as he describes the struggle of drinking coffee wearing a bulky piece of VR kit.
This immediate stumbling block puts Meta's vision into question. Until there's an agile piece of equipment that transports a 3D version of yourself into a virtual world, this trend won't take off as Meta envisioned. Zuckerberg is hedging his bets that technology will allow for an elegant transition from real to virtual.
Upon watching the full interview, it's clear that there's a certain charm, but it's not clear whether it's the odd cartoon-like setting or Nick Clegg himself. It's hard to believe we'll routinely navigate a virtual world in its current state for work, particularly one controlled by Meta.