What in the World—Week of March 15

A royal sitdown leads to sold out chairs
Here’s the story… of how a man once named Brady on an iconic TV show created the season’s must-have patio furniture. Christopher Knight, best known for playing Peter Brady on the enduring family sitcom The Brady Bunch, said last week that the chairs used for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s famous sit-down with Oprah were made by his company, Christopher Knight Brands. “It would appear Meghan and Harry got ‘Knighted’ in a way never anticipated,” said Knight in a Facebook post last week. The acacia wood and wicker Burchett Outdoor Club Chairs have already sold out on Overstock and Amazon, said Knight. Meghan, Meghan, Meghan. It’s all anyone around here ever talks about.

AT&T to roll out ad-supported HBO service
AT&T is set to roll out a cheaper, ad-supported version of its HBO Max streaming service this June, and has already secured US$80 million in ad bookings according to Variety. “Advertising, when executed thoughtfully and elegantly, is a powerful way to lower prices for everyone,” said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar during AT&T’s investor day presentation last week. The company is also substantially raising subscriber targets for its HBO and HBO Max services to between 120 and 150 million through 2025. The company expects HBO’s revenue to more than double from last year’s US$6.8 billion within the next five years. Kilar said that the company is being “thoughtful” about the insertion of ads, saying they would be “very organic” within the viewing experience.

Tinder could soon run background checks
Tinder users could soon have the ability to run background checks on potential dates. According to published reports, Tinder’s parent company, Match, has taken a stake in the non-profit Garbo and will introduce the latter’s technology to its dating apps—which, aside from Tinder, include OKCupid, Hinge and Match. Garbo uses police reports, restraining orders and other legal documents that “report abuse, harassment, or other crimes,” although it does not include drug-related offences. Its goal is to look for meaningful predictions of “gender-based violence,” and drug charges disproportionately affect Black people, which runs counter to organization’s stated goal of maintaining an “active stance toward equity.”

Unilever takes ‘normal’ out of beauty and personal care
As part of its efforts to be more inclusive, Unilever is removing the word “normal” from more than 200 beauty and personal care products and branding. “We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward,” said Sunny Jain, Unilever’s president of beauty and personal care, in a statement. Recent research for Unilever found that 70% of respondents agreed that “using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact.” For respondents 18 to 35 that rose to 80%. Unilever also said it will use more underrepresented models in its advertising and would no longer digitally alter “a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin color in its brand advertising.”

Racial inequality costs Hollywood $10B a year: McKinsey
Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has put a cost on systemic racial inequality in Hollywood: $10 billion a year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, McKinsey’s $10-billion estimate is based on a projection of profits in a more equitable ecosystem. McKinsey studied existing research reports on diversity and representation in film and TV, and interviewed industry executives to identify “pain points” in the production of more representative content. According to The New York Times, one executive told researchers that “when executives ‘are looking for Black content, they’re looking for Wakanda or poverty, with no in-between.’ Added one anonymous Black actor: ‘I have to take stereotypical works, because that’s what’s out there, but then when I take those roles, they say that’s all I am capable of.’”

David Brown