What in the World—Week of June 14

Barbie wants to save the oceans
Mattel has introduced a new line of its iconic Barbie dolls made from “recycled ocean-bound plastic,” described as plastic sourced within 50km of waterways in areas lacking formal waste collection systems. The new “Barbie Loves the Ocean” dolls are part of Mattel’s goal to use 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastics in all products and packaging by 2030. “This Barbie launch is another addition to Mattel’s growing portfolio of purpose-driven brands that inspire environmental consciousness with our consumer as a key focus,” said Mattel’s president and chief operating officer Richard Dickson. “At Mattel, we empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. We take this responsibility seriously and are continuing to do our part to ensure kids can inherit a world that’s full of potential, too.” The launch is being promoted through a campaign, “The Future of Pink is Green,” by BBH LA.

Lamborghini is selling out
In what Bloomberg suggests is proof of more “revenge spending” coming out of the pandemic, supercar brand Lamborghini has almost sold out its stock for the year. “Despite a two-month shutdown due to the pandemic, Lamborghini ended 2020 as its second-best year ever,” said chief executive officer Stephan Winkelmann. Lamborghini is also spending about $1.8 billion to introduce plug-in hybrid versions of each model by 2024, and plans to introduce a battery powered car by the second half of this decade. “Lamborghini doesn’t want to be the first-mover at all cost… In electrification, we need to choose the right moment, when we think the market is ready and we think we can really be the best,” said Winkelmann.

These Crocs weren’t made for walking
If you’ve ever wanted to combine the hideousness of Crocs with the discomfort of heels, then these are the shoes for you. Luxury brand Balenciaga has partnered with Crocs on a pair of stiletto-heeled clogs that were unveiled as part of a spring 2022 collection that also included Crocs rainboots. According to The Cut, the shoes are “either an atrocity to humankind or a very good prank on rich people.” Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia previously collaborated with Crocs on a platform version of the ubiquitous shoe in 2017, but this latest collaboration literally takes the ubiquitous footwear to new highs (or is that lows?). There’s not much hard information about where the Crocs will be available or how much they’ll cost, although some media outlets like CNN have said they could set would-be purchasers back as much as $1,000. We suspect the cost to their dignity will considerably higher.

Is BK trolling Chick-Fil-A for Pride?
Burger King launched a new chicken sandwich last week and seemingly took a swing at one of its biggest rivals in the ongoing chicken sandwich battle. The new Ch’King sandwich was introduced at the start of Pride Month, and Burger King said it would donate 40 cents to LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign for every sandwich sold through the end of the month. In a tweet, Burger King said it would make the donations “even on Sundays,” an apparent shot at Chick-Fil-A which is closed on that day. Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has said he supports the “biblical definition of the family unit,” and the company was found to have donated to organizations that discriminate against LGBTQ people as recently as 2017.

Covid and the end of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy
The pandemic has brought about yet another business casualty: The millennial lifestyle subsidy. That’s the term New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose uses to describe the period from about 2012 to early last year, when the daily activities of many 20- and 30-somethings—Uber, Airbnb, food delivery, etc.—were being underwritten by Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Business and tech journalist Kara Swisher once described it as “assisted living for millennials.” “For years, those subsidies allowed us to live Balenciaga lifestyles on Banana Republic budgets,” he writes. But now the bill for those cheap Uber rides and affordable Airbnb accommodations is coming due. “Some of these companies have been tightening their belts for years,” he writes. “But the pandemic seems to have emptied what was left of the bargain bin.” The average Uber and Lyft ride is now 40% higher than it was last year, he writes, while the average daily rate of an Airbnb rental shot up 35% in Q1, and the rates for food delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash have been steadily rising.

David Brown