What in the World—Week of March 22

The Mac guy switches to PC
Justin Long, the actor who played the cool, trendy Mac to John Hodgman’s bumbling, incompetent PC in the “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” ads in the early 2000s, has switched sides. Long is now starring in a digital campaign for Intel, according to The Wall Street Journal. The ads from VMLY&R open with Long starting to utter his familiar greeting, “Hello, I’m a…” before catching himself and introducing himself as simply Justin, “a real person doing a real comparison between Mac and PC.” The ads are part of a multimillion-dollar campaign running across YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, which follows Apple’s 2020 announcement that it would stop using Intel chips in new machines—replacing them with chips designed by its own engineers. It’s not the first time a high-profile pitchman has switched sides. In 2016, Sprint made headlines when it recruited Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” guy (played by actor Paul Marcarelli) to appear in its advertising.

Facebook is planning a pre-teen version of Instagram
Facebook is said to be developing a version of Instagram for the pre-teen set. In a post to an employee message board obtained by Buzzfeed, Instagram’s vice-president of product, Vishal Shah, said the photo-sharing app has identified “youth work” as a priority. In addition to building the new offering, Facebook intends to accelerate its “integrity and privacy work” to ensure “the safest possible experience for teens.” Instagram’s current policy forbids children under the age of 13 from using the platform. The company posted a lengthy blog post last week entitled “Continuing to make Instagram safer for the youngest members of our community,” in which it announced that it would work to better understand users’ real age, restrict DMs between teens and adults they don’t know, and use safety notices to encourage teens to be more cautious in conversations with adults they’re connected to.

Burberry creates video game skins
Fashion house Burberry has developed character skins for Honor of Kings, a massively popular multiplayer game for mobile that boasts around 100 million daily players. Players in mainland China can outfit in-game character Yao in a trench coat in the signature Burberry beige and house check, as well as an outfit inspired by runway looks from the fashion house’s spring/summer 2021 collection, “In Bloom.” “Partnering with Honor of Kings feels like a natural step up for our move into gaming, going beyond our in-house games by bringing the Burberry universe into an established environment,” said Burberry China president Josie Zhang. It’s part of growing crossover between the gaming and fashion world, which has led to brands such as Louis Vuitton and BAPE developing in-game outfits for games including League of Legends.

Time to get your own Netflix password?
There are signs from the big streaming giants that the glory days of password sharing may be coming to an end. According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix has started prompting users to verify their identity with a text message, while other big players like Disney+ have been emailing customer accounts when multiple logins are detected. Netflix has more than 200 million subscribers globally, and 74 million in the U.S. and Canada; the company seems to have realized it needs every viewer to be a subscriber rather than sharing accounts to continue growing. “U.S. streaming platforms lost an estimated $2.5 billion in revenue in 2019 because of password sharing, and that amount is expected to increase to $3.5 billion in 2024, according to Parks Associates, a research firm,” reports WSJ. In a study last summer, Leichtman Research Group found that 30% of Netflix subscribers and 20% of Amazon Prime subscribers share their passwords.

Amazon becomes biggest clothing store in America
Amazon became the top apparel retailer in the U.S. last year, according to Wells Fargo’s Amazon & The Retail Rainforest report. At a time when traditional retailers were struggling, the pandemic drove a 15% increase in clothing and footwear sales on the site, to $41 billion. The researchers said that while 15% may seem modest, overall demand was “stifled by the pandemic” and Amazon was the go-to shopping destination for people who were doing more work from home. “In other words, Amazon’s uptick in sales, driven by basics and ath-leisure clothing, loomed larger against an overall clothing landscape that was depressed during quarantines and lockdowns,” reported Women’s Wear Daily. Wells Fargo projects Amazon apparel sales will grow by another 10% this year.

David Brown