Starbucks welcomes transgender coffee drinkers ; Google finally reveals YouTube ad revenue; Bill Murray and Jeep win the Super Bowl

Starbucks UK shares welcoming message with transgender community

For years, the Starbucks practice of writing names on coffee cups has been the subject of mockery, with comical misspellings of customer names by baristas a running joke on social media.

But Starbucks U.K. has turned that routine into a symbol of acceptance for the transgender community, built around the hashtag #WhatsYourName. The insight here, according to Starbucks, is that many people who are transitioning appreciate that they can use their new name at Starbucks without fear or judgement. Thus the act of writing the person’s name on the cup becomes a larger symbolic act of acceptance. “We were moved to discover that individuals find our stores a safe space to try out their new names when transitioning,” reads a release.

A series of “portraits” from the agency Iris feature transgendered people sharing their own stories about choosing their name or the significance of going into Starbucks and being able to use their chosen name. Starbucks will also sell special edition cookies to raise up to £100,000 for the charity Mermaids, which provides assistance and support to gender-diverse kids, young people and their families.

But also… it wasn’t that long ago that Starbucks in the U.S. felt like it had to close down its stores for racial bias training.

Jeep wins the Super Bowl

Jeep’s playful revival of Groundhog Day with Bill Murray was the Super Bowl’s big winner, according to USA Today’s Ad Meter. The ad, which shows Murray happily living the same day over and over in a Jeep, was reportedly still being shot just eight days before the big game.

Rounding out the top five were: Hyundai for “Smaht Pahk”; Google for “Loretta”; Doritos for “The Cool Ranch” and Rocket Mortgage for “Comfortable.” Waaay down at the bottom of the rankings was Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign ad, “Criminal Justice Reform.”

Google made $15 billion on YouTube ad sales

Google parent Alphabet Inc. surprised much of the media and digital ad world Monday by revealing just how much ad revenue the company is making from YouTube ad sales. In the last year, YouTube generated $15.1 billion in ad sales, up from $11.2 billion in 2018 and $8.2 billion in 2017. The $15 billion may seem impressive, (total Canadian ad spend is estimated at less than $14 billion) but disappointed some. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said most of that revenue goes to creators, although she did not specify how much.

“That would be on the lower end of projections for the video business, which has been the subject of educated guesses for years, and suggests that YouTube pulls in less than $8 a year from each of its 2 billion users,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

But while YouTube growth appears strong, Alphabet took a hit on the markets after revealing its numbers because Q4 revenue missed expectations and its core search business showed signs of slowing. Last year, Google’s search and “other” business produced $98 billion, a 15% increase from $85.3 billion in 2018, while YouTube was up 36.5%. Total revenue in Q4 was $46.1 billion, short of analyst expectations of $46.9 billion.

Accenture would rather be in media than audit media

Accenture is getting out of the media auditing business, according to Digiday. As Accenture has rapidly expanded into the marketing services business, marketers and media agencies have long expressed concern about conflicts of interest—while one unit of Accenture was confidentially reviewing the books and numbers of clients and agencies, another unit, Accenture Interactive, was competing for marketer business against other agencies.

According to Digiday, Accenture Interactive’s revenue rose from $8.5 billion in 2018 to $10 billion in 2019, while auditing represented just 0.1% of its total business.

Why are shopping mall owners buying Forever 21? 

Forever 21 could be sold for $81 million to two of its biggest shopping mall landlords. Why? Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners didn’t want to have more empty space in their properties at a time when so many shopping malls are being hollowed out.

The fast-fashion retailer, which catered to young consumers, filed for bankruptcy protection in September and has already closed 100 stores. At its height, Forever 21 had reportedly reached 800 stores with more than $4 billion in revenue. However, according to CNBC, the chain was undone by overly aggressive expansion.

Simon and General Growth Properties, which is now owned by Brookfield, made a similar deal to buy Aeropostale out of bankruptcy in 2016.

Whose video is this?

This week in digital privacy fiascos, we bring you Google sending users private videos to random strangers.

According to 9to5Google, a small number of people using Google Takeout service were affected by a technical issue in late November that resulted in people being sent private videos that did not belong to them. “According to the company, less than 0.01% of Photos users attempting Takeouts were affected.” Read the 9to5Google story here including a link to the statement from Google.

David Brown