What in the World—Week of February 8

Norway responds to GM’s Super Bowl ad
GM’s “No way Norway” Super Bowl ad starring comedian Will Ferrell has led to a series of tongue-in-cheek response videos from various Norwegian institutions. The original ad shows Ferrell, outraged that Norway sells more EVs per capita than the U.S., making his way to Scandinavia to “crush those lugers.” (The fact that he instead ends up in Sweden suggests that Norway also leads the U.S. in geography education.) One of the response ads comes from a Norwegian university, which also points out several of the other (more important) areas where that country leads the U.S.—including free post-secondary education, healthcare and one year of paid maternity leave. GM’s automotive rival Audi, meanwhile, ran a strange series of ads featuring Game of Thrones star Tormund Giantsbane, including one in which he says he will slap the former Saturday Night Live star with a salmon.

U.K. cracks down on influencer filters
Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that social media filters should not be used in sponsored posts if they exaggerate the effects of the brand being advertised. The ad watchdog looked at two tanning products, but said the ruling should apply to all British brands, influencers and celebrities, said a BBC report. The decision is in response to the #FilterDrop campaign led by make-up artist and model Sasha Pallari. While happy about the ASA ruling, Pallari said she still wants Instagram to remove all face-changing filters. “How can Instagram agree to remove filters that promote plastic surgery, but not filters that alter your shape—how else are we going to alter our face without plastic surgery?”

A hairy situation involving Gorilla Glue
A cautionary tale emerged this week about just why brands put warnings on labels, no matter how unnecessary they might seem. According to The New York Times, a woman named Tessica Brown used a can of Gorilla Spray Adhesive to hold her hair in place when her regular hold product ran out. “Bad, bad, bad, idea,” says an emotional Brown in a TikTok video that has been viewed nearly 16 million times. She has been living with the results for a month according to the Times, with repeated washings, treatments and a trip to the emergency room failing to remove the glue. Gorilla Glue—which describes its adhesive products as suitable “for the toughest jobs on planet Earth”—put out a statement saying it was sorry to hear about the “unfortunate incident” and describing it as “unique situation” owing to the fact its products are not intended to be used for hair because it’s considered permanent.

Is this the next TikTok?
Is Kuaishou what comes after TikTok? The short-form video app launched on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday, and its share value quickly tripled. Founded in 2012, the company reported a $1.1 billion loss last year, but has amassed 300 million daily users on the app. Most of Kuaishou’s revenue ($6.2 billion in the first nine months of 2020) comes from livestreaming e-commerce, often featuring celebrities pitching products, reports the BBC. “It also makes money from virtual gifts, and has increasingly turned to online marketing services, which accounted for 33% of its business in the first three quarters of 2020.” But the product has also become particularly popular outside major cities and in rural communities. “Some people use Kuaishou more like they use WeChat. Kuaishou has a lot more functionality than TikTok,” Rui Ma, a Chinese tech analyst told the BBC.

Elon Musk donates $100 million to carbon capture X Prize
Elon Musk is donating $100 million to the X Prize Foundation for a new open competition focused on carbon removal technology, according to a report by The Verge. The contest will officially begin in April and run for four years. One grand prize winner will be awarded $50 million, with $20 million for second place and $10 million for third. Winners will “demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels,” reads the X Prize site. Scientists estimate we must remove as much as 6 gigatons of CO2 a year by 2030, and 10 gigatons by 2050, to avoid the worse effects of climate change. “We want to make a truly meaningful impact. Carbon negativity, not neutrality,” said Musk in a statement. “This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level.” Last month, Musk passed Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person, after adding more than $150 billion in personal wealth in 2020.

David Brown