What in the World — Week of June 21

Goodbye Victoria’s Secret ‘Angels,’ hello VS Collective
In what is being described as a long-overdue update for the 44-year-old lingerie brand, Victoria’s Secret is getting rid of its traditional “Angels” models, replacing them with a new “VS Collective” comprised of women more celebrated for their accomplishments than their measurements. The new group includes U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe; biracial model and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser; and Indian actor and tech investor Priyanka Chopra Jonas. It is part of what the New York Times calls “the most extreme and unabashed attempt at a brand turnaround in recent memory,” as the company looks to overcome flagging sales and charges that it is hopelessly out of step with current attitudes towards body image and diversity and inclusivity. “It has taken years for Victoria’s Secret to acknowledge that its marketing was dated,” said the Times. “In that time, the value of the brand eroded and a slew of competitors grew in part by positioning themselves as the anti-Victoria’s Secret.”

Facebook launches Clubhouse competitor
Facebook has launched Live Audio Rooms, its competitor to the once-buzzy audio-based social app Clubhouse. Live Audio Rooms are launching on iOS in the U.S., starting with public figures and select Facebook Groups. According to The Verge, anyone can be invited as a speaker in the room and, unlike Clubhouse, there are no restrictions on the number of people permitted to listen in. Other features include notifications when Facebook friends or followers join a room, and a “raise a hand” button to request permission to join a conversation. The launch comes just days after Spotify introduced its own live audio room, Greenroom, part of a wave of competitors to Clubhouse that includes Reddit (Reddit Talk) and Twitter (Spaces). LinkedIn and Slack are also rumoured to be developing audio products, says The Verge, even as the buzz around Clubhouse has “waned considerably.”

TikTok owner ByteDance saw revenues double in 2020
The emergence of TikTok as a global cultural force helped its parent company ByteDance more than double its revenue to $34.3 billion last year according to The Wall Street Journal. However, the company also posted an operating loss of $2.1 billion, in part because of higher expenses resulting from share-based compensation to employees. ByteDance had around 1.9 billion monthly active users across its platforms—which include TikTok and its Chinese cousin Douyin—as of December. The numbers reflect the inroads ByteDance has made in the global ad market, as advertisers shift budgets from traditional media to newer formats, said the WSJ. Citing data from R3, it reported that digital ad sales in China alone grew more than 20% to about $46.9 billion, with short-form video, ecommerce and social media platforms the most popular among Chinese marketers. ByteDance was valued at $180 billion late last year, following a fundraising round.

NBC puts record price tag on Super Bowl 
NBC is asking for a record $6 million for a spot in the 2022 Super Bowl, a 9.1% increase over the $5.5 million charged by CBS this year, according to Variety. The media company is reportedly also telling advertisers that they might have to purchase the same amount of advertising in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games in order to guarantee prominent placement in the big game—such as the first slot of a commercial break or during the first quarter. According to Variety, it underscores just how much premium inventory NBC needs to sell over the next few months, a “daunting” amount spanning two Olympics and the Super Bowl. “NBC is betting that it can ride a renewed wave of enthusiasm from Madison Avenue for live sports, and the big audiences they attract all at once,” said Variety. The aggressive stance comes as the audience for this year’s Super Bowl was the smallest since 2007.

David Brown