What in the World—Week of March 8

Brands embrace life after COVID with open mouths
Remember when KFC temporarily retired its long-time catchphrase “finger-lickin’ good” because of COVID sensitivities? Well, this is the exact opposite of that. Racy ads from men’s fashion brand Suitsupply are being held up as a signal that the long-awaited return to normalcy is just around the corner. Using the message “The new normal is coming,” the ads feature visuals of people in various states of undress, with one couple at the centre of the frame engaged in an extravagant open mouth kiss. “It’s pretty obvious that post-pandemic life is on the horizon,” Suitsupply founder Fokke de Jong told The New York Timesadding that the company merely wanted to show a “positive outlook” of a future when people can be close again. Another campaign from fashion brand Diesel called “When together” features eight couples reuniting after time apart. According to Diesel, the ads capture the “intense reconnection” that follows—which includes, yep, more open-mouth kissing. Your move, fragrance brands.

Burger King catches fire for IWD tweet
Burger King is being roasted (or should that be flame grilled?) on Twitter today after starting International Women’s Day with a tweet reading “Women belong in the kitchen” (it also ran as a headline in a print ad appearing in The New York Times). The ads from David Miami were promoting a new scholarship program the QSR is launching called “Helping Equalize Restaurants” (HER), noting that only 20% of chefs in the foodservice industry are women. But the context of the print ad was immediately lost on Twitter, where people decried the original message as “shameful” and “dumb.” One user even suggested that Burger King take down the tweet, to which it responded, “Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry…?”

Goose Island’s Creme Egg beer quickly sells out
Chicago-based brewer Goose Island teamed up with Cadbury for a special edition Creme Stout beer created to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cadbury Creme Egg in the U.K. The “Golden Goo-Beer-Lee Creme Stout” is a blend of malted barley, oats, wheat and milk sugar with cacao nibs, and vanilla beans, to replicate the flavours of the popular chocolate egg. “The flavours of a stout are already quite complementary to the Creme Egg,” said Goose Island U.K. master brewer, Andrew Walton. “But I wanted to make sure when you crack open the beer you knew immediately what the inspiration was and really big up the chocolate and creaminess of the beer, while keeping it super drinkable.”

Kings of Leon release blockchain album
Kings of Leon caused a stir last week when the band revealed it would release its new album in the form of a non-fungible token, or NFT. (And for those paying close attention, this is our third Monday in a row with an NFT story.) The buzz comes from the suggestion that music as an NFT may lead to people buying and owning music again (using blockchain) rather than streaming it from a platform like Apple Music or Spotify. The new album will be available in traditional formats, but the band worked with a company called YellowHeart to create NFT versions including special perks ranging from enhanced media to front-row seats at a Kings of Leon concert. “Over the last 20 years—two lost decades—we’ve seen the devaluation of music,” YellowHeart CEO Josh Katz told Rolling Stone. “Music has become great at selling everything except music. There’s been a race to the bottom where, for as little money as possible, you have access to all of it.”

Shaq opens a more diverse ad agency
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is starting an ad agency that will be staffed mostly by people of colour. Called Majority, the agency will be based in Atlanta and run by co-founder Omid Farhang, who was most recently chief creative officer at Interpublic’s Momentum Worldwide. “Most agencies still struggle to meet a 25% diversity target,” O’Neal told The Wall Street Journal. “We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.” O’Neal won’t be involved in daily operations, but will support the agency by joining meetings and working his network to develop work for brands. “The goal for our company is to show how creative output changes when you flip that ratio,” said Farhang, adding that they are defining diverse talent as “Black and brown people, women and LGBTQ.”

David Brown