Those aren’t Allbirds, and Ryan Reynolds becomes part owner in Mint Mobile

If the running shoe fits…

When you’re confident in your brand, you can invite the largest retailer in the world to steal your innovations—particularly when they’re good for the planet.

Earlier this year, Amazon’s in-house private label brand 206 Collective introduced a shoe that was an unmistakable copy of Allbirds’ signature woollen running shoe, but sold for less than half the price of the original. On Monday Allbirds’ Joey Zwillinger posted an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Medium. It’s hard to say if the letter could best be described as dripping with sarcasm or passive aggression.

In any case, Zwillinger says Allbirds is “flattered at the similarities,” but disappointed that Amazon left out the environmentally conscious elements—most notably the “SweetFoam” soles, which are made using sugarcane byproducts.

Zwilliger said that Amazon could use its SweetFoam formula free of charge, and that replacing the petroleum-based products in its supply chain could help make a “major dent” in the fight against climate change.

“Customers value companies that are mindful of the planet and profits, and we believe the most powerful businesses in the world, such as Amazon, should lead on these issues, and will be rewarded for doing so,” wrote Zwillinger, before signing off: “Please steal our approach to sustainability.”

Gillette to sponsor e-sports soccer tournament

Gillette has partnered with gaming giant Electronic Arts to sponsor the e-sports tournament EA Sports FIFA 20 Global Series. The Global Series is a nine-month long competitive gaming event, offering more than $3 million in prize money. Last year’s event generated 61 million views and more than 680 million minutes watched.

“The EA Sports FIFA 20 Global Series is an incredibly powerful e-sports platform, and to add it to Gillette’s long history in football, sports and e-sports is a true honour,” said Gary Coombe, CEO of Global Grooming at P&G / Gillette, in a release.

Ryan Reynolds’ latest venture: budget mobile

Another week, another Ryan Reynolds story. Apparently not content with being a movie star and purveyor of luxury gin, the Canadian actor/businessman/advertising wizard has acquired an ownership stake in the U.S. budget wireless carrier Mint Mobile.

Mint described Reynolds as an “actor, writer, producer and mobile phone enthusiast.” Mint CEO David Glickman, meanwhile, described him as the “most innovative marketer on the planet.” That’s largely on the basis of a series of well-received ads for his booze brand, Aviation Gin.

The release also noted that Reynolds will help with strategic decision-making and Mint’s communications and marketing efforts. Reynolds, meanwhile, announced via tweet that as an owner, he’ll be paying himself $15 a month.

California DMV is selling motorists personal data

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has literally come up with a license to make money. According to a report from Vice, the organization is generating up to US$50 million a year by selling motorists’ personal information—including names, addresses and vehicle registration.

While the document obtained by Vice’s tech section Motherboard did not disclose the companies that paid for the information, an earlier investigation into the practice across the U.S. found that data broker LexisNexis, consumer credit reporting agency Experian and even private investigators were among them.

In an e-mail to Vice, the California DMV said that insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers and prospective employers might also be among the requesters. The DMV’s public information officer Marty Greenstein told Vice that the sale of personal data “furthers objectives related to highway and public safety.”

The report says that multiple DMV’s across the U.S. previously cut off access for some requesters who “abused” the data.

Programmatic spending to top US$100 billion this year: Zenith

More than two-thirds (69%) of all digital media will be traded programmatically in 2020, up from 65% this year, according to Zenith’s new Programmatic Marketing Forecasts 2019 report released today.

Programmatic spending will reach US$100 billion for the first time ever this year, rising to $127 billion in 2020 and $147 billion by 2021, when nearly three-quarters (72%) of digital media will be programmatic.

The U.S. and the U.K. are the most advanced programmatic markets, with 87% and 82% of digital media respectively trading programmatically this year. Three other nations—Denmark, France and Germany—will see more than 80% of their digital media traded programmatically by 2021.

The report notes that the programmatic industry faces several key challenges however, including finding the appropriate balance between privacy and personalization in the wake of legislation such as GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act, and the increasing amount of browsers blocking third-party cookies that programmatic has used for measurement, insights, targeting and retargeting.

The report also notes the increasing number of middlemen that reside between publishers and brands who provide “unknown value” because of a lack of transparency. The so-called “tech tax” charged by these companies is increasingly becoming a point of contention.

“Although programmatic ad spend continues to grow at double-digit rates, it is being hindered as the industry struggles with privacy and supply-chain challenges,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s head of forecasting. “Once these challenges have been addressed, programmatic marketing has the potential to accelerate again during the next decade.”




David Brown