What in the World—Week of October 25

Fisher-Price makes a working Chatter phone
Toy maker Fisher-Price has made pull notifications a thing. The company has introduced a working version of its 60-year-old Chatter Telephone pull toy that can connect to mobile devices via Bluetooth, includes a working rotary dial and handset, and comes with speakerphone capabilities. Users receive incoming calls by simply picking up the Chatter’s receiver, and can make outgoing calls using the phone’s brightly coloured dial. “The past has finally arrived,” says an ad promoting the updated Chatter telephone touting its “bulky design,” “hands-on technology” and “numbers” and “colours.” “Your first mobile phone is now a real mobile phone.” Can’t wait to see what they come up with for the View-Master.

Cameo to acquire celebrity storefront agency Represent
Cameo, which allows people to send personalized video greetings from celebrities, is making its first acquisition. According to TechCrunch, Cameo is acquiring Represent, a marketing and merch company that helps celebrities and brands create personalized online storefronts. It lists Jennifer Lopez, Leonard DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey among its clients. Cameo facilitated more than 1.3 million videos last year, while a recent $100 million raise brought its valuation above $1 billion. While Cameo said that users won’t immediately see changes, it said they might be able to purchase “gift bundles” pairing a video with related merch. “The company also hopes that weaving merch into its revenue streams will boost the fundraising efforts that many on-platform celebrities do to raise money for non-profits,” said TechCrunch.

PayPay denies Pinterest deal
PayPal has poured water on speculation it was going to acquire Pinterest with a very short statement posted to its site on Sunday: “In response to market rumors regarding a potential acquisition of Pinterest by PayPal, PayPal stated that it is not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest at this time.” The statement came after media reported on Wednesday that PayPal was in advanced talks to buy the popular photo-sharing social network in a deal valuing it at about $39 billion. While PayPal has benefited from the surge in online shopping during the pandemic, it also faces increased competition from e-commerce pioneers Shopify, and other tech giants like Apple, Facebook and China’s WeChat have been expanding their financial technology services.

Fox launches 24-hour weather app
Rupert Murdoch is getting into the 24-hour weather game starting today, with a new app streaming weather content around the clock. The move comes as news networks experience post-Trump viewership declines, but also as interest grows in increasingly extreme weather news. “The weather endeavour pits Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox chief executive who has invested $10m in the push, more directly in competition with his brother James, who last year slammed his family’s news properties for promoting false scepticism about climate change as deadly bushfires tore across Australia,” reports the Financial Times (paywall). And while FT says that credibility may be an issue, Fox has also devoted 120 meteorologists to the app and created a new studio that will change colours with the weather. “The app, which is free and will make money from advertisements, offers users 3D radar to zoom in on real-time footage of storms, along with a feature to track forecasts for future events like a wedding or birthday.”

Online gambling companies launch massive ad push
With all four of the major North American sports leagues currently in action, sports fans are being subjected to a deluge of gambling ads, says a report in The Wall Street Journal. Major operators including FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars Entertainment are currently spending millions to attract new customers, with advertising including celebrity filled TV commercials, billboards and podcasts and sponsorships such as the DraftKings logo superimposed on the pitcher’s mound during Major League Baseball telecasts. Regulators have expressed concern over the rise in gambling ads at a time when calls to the National Problem Gambling helpline have increased to an average of 22,500 a month (that number doesn’t include calls to individual state helplines).

David Brown