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From $90,000 Oreos to BTS McDonald’s meals, crossovers are more than just a hype-inducing stunt

Would you pay over $91,000 for a three-pack of Oreos?

Before you rush to answer “no!,” note that these are no ordinary Oreos. These are bright red, have the Supreme logo imprinted on them, and are very limited in quantity.

When the Supreme x Oreo crossover released on February 18, 2020, fans quickly ate up the offering, though not in the literal sense. These buyers were grabbing the limited-run three-pack for $8 and immediately turning to resell in a bid to make a quick buck. Sales were seen as high as $91,000 before seller sites like eBay pulled them.

‘X’ marks the spot

This…


In both business and politics, leaders tend to overestimate how much they have in common with their audience

Perhaps the most basic political fact about the Covid relief bill Congress just passed —and that I wrote about a couple of days ago — is that its provisions are, for the most part, widely popular and largely uncontroversial. As a result, it’s a great example of Democrats doing something that seems politically obvious, but which they’ve often struggled to do: focusing on policies that are popular with voters, and avoiding policies that aren’t.

One of the main voices in recent years emphasizing the need for Democrats to pursue this strategy has been David Shor, who’s head of data science…


Off Brand

The oat milk brand played meta-level advertising jujitsu

Oatly CEO Toni Petersson playing the keyboard in the middle of a field with a cup and carton of Oatly oat milk to his side.
Oatly CEO Toni Petersson playing the keyboard in the middle of a field with a cup and carton of Oatly oat milk to his side.

Ads are annoying. And every year a surprising number of Super Bowl ads are super-annoying. This weekend’s game was no exception, but one of the most annoying ads took things to a new level — by commoditizing everyone else’s annoyance.

The ad consists of Oatly CEO Toni Petersson playing a keyboard alone in a field, singing a ridiculous ditty about his company’s oat milk. “It’s like milk, but made for humans,” he sings. “Wow, wow, no cow.” Petersson has a kind of annoying alt-dad look, and an undeniably annoying singing voice. So the ad is very annoying, seeming to last…


Off Brand

DoorDash, Triller, and Robinhood are taking the field, while Budweiser and Pepsi sit it out

Logos of Fiverr, Coca-Cola, Doordash, Pepsi, Triller, and Budweiser as O’s and X’s on a football play
Logos of Fiverr, Coca-Cola, Doordash, Pepsi, Triller, and Budweiser as O’s and X’s on a football play

Super Bowl LV, coming this Sunday evening in Tampa, Florida, is going to be weird. Partly that’s just because everything has been weird for months, including sports events that are now an uncanny mix of fake crowd noise and cardboard-cutout fans, with players sidelined and schedules rejiggered by Covid infections. It’s particularly hard to imagine how this ultimate spectacle of togetherness — not just in a crowded stadium but in many thousands of crowded living rooms — will translate to this endless and isolated Covid-19 winter.

All of which is making things complicated for the real stars of Super Bowl…


Number Crunch

The price for a 30-second spot is falling for the first time in years

Art for Number Crunch with the text “$5.5 million — The price of a 30-sec Super Bowl commercial spot” with football design
Art for Number Crunch with the text “$5.5 million — The price of a 30-sec Super Bowl commercial spot” with football design

$5.5 million: That’s how much ViacomCBS wants advertisers to pay for 30-second ad spots during Super Bowl LV on February 7. Variety reported that earlier this month, both Pepsi and Coca-Cola decided not to air ads during the annual sporting event, historically the most coveted arena for the soda giants to put their rivalry on display.

While Fox, which aired the 2020 Super Bowl, sold out of ad spots for that event by November 2019, earning $435 million in ad revenue, CBS is yet to sell out its ad inventory for this year’s Super Bowl with only a couple of…


A person holds their credit card while online shopping on their laptop.
A person holds their credit card while online shopping on their laptop.

With e-commerce booming throughout the pandemic, Black Friday is looking more like a two-month-long Cyber Monday. Retailers pivoting to digital have stretched the dates of holiday sales now that they don’t have to worry about literal stampedes of shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. But not only is pandemic holiday shopping looking increasingly online, it’s also looking surprisingly healthy: Deloitte projects that retail sales might actually rise this holiday.

One reason for that bump may be the ease with which even Luddites can shop the digital sales popping up all over online marketplaces, brand websites, and even social media. Writer Roxane…


Probably every brand is in favor of voting. And this election year, in particular, it seems like every brand needs to tell you so — cluttering your inbox and text…


Number of the Day

And how to get good publicity while slashing your ad budget

A graphic of employees at a startup with the text “Number of the Day: 52,000 Jobs” superimposed over the image.
A graphic of employees at a startup with the text “Number of the Day: 52,000 Jobs” superimposed over the image.

52,000: That’s how many jobs U.S. ad agencies are expected to lose in 2020 and 2021, with half of those jobs projected to never return, according to an analyst at the research firm Forrester, as reported in the New York Times. With advertisers making severe, pandemic-induced budget cuts, Forrester also predicted that ad spends will decline 25% in 2020, not recovering until 2023.

The recalibration has been a long time coming for a bloated industry still saddled with lavish Mad Men-esque habits and outdated incentives. …


No Mercy No Malice

Over the past decade, the Big Four have been destroying their competitors. Covid-19 is just finishing the job.

There is a stereotype that cat people are generally women who live and die alone with their cats. I find, like most stereotypes, there is some truth to this. The cat people of cat people are … bat people. It all started with a simple tweet.

Twitter is a bipolar lover (I have some experience here) in that you just don’t know who you’re waking up with. …


How Walmart and Popeyes Chicken became case studies in how not to advertise during a crisis

A photo of a Popeyes store front and logo.
A photo of a Popeyes store front and logo.

During the worst pandemic in history, marketers are at a loss. Frankly, they should be.

Now is not the time to put out a sales message or anything resembling one. The economy is tanking, retail stores are closed, and nearly 10 million Americans have just lost their jobs. The only things people — note that I do not say “consumers” — care about buying right now is food and toilet paper.

Evidence of how flummoxed marketers are can be seen in the advertising created during the initial onset of this crisis. Numerous advertisers redesigned their logos in an attempt to…

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