What In the World—Week of December 13

Swedish tourism board reclaiming place names from IKEA
Sweden’s tourism board, Visit Sweden, is reclaiming the names of destinations that have become synonymous with IKEA products like toilet brushes (Bolmen) and bamboo lamps (Misterhult). The “Discover the Originals” campaign highlights 21 places in Sweden that share a name with IKEA products, including Ektorp (which is best-known as an IKEA sofa, but is also a town close to Stockholm and the Baltic Sea) and Skärhamn (an IKEA door handle that is also the name of a former fishing port on the country’s west coast). “A lot of IKEA’s products are named after places in Sweden,” said Visit Sweden. “That’s a nice detail for a Swedish company, but it has caused a great deal of misunderstanding.” And just as an FYI, there are nine places in the world named Billy, after the retailer’s most famous product.

Peloton’s Big revival  
Mr. Big is back in a new spot for Peloton developed by Maximum Effort, the ad agency launched by Ryan Reynolds. After Chris Noth’s Sex and the City character (spoiler alert) died of a heart attack after a 45-minute Peloton ride in the first episode of the show’s reboot And Just Like That, Peloton saw its stock price hit a 52-week low on Friday. That led the company to take the unusual step of issuing a statement saying that Mr. Big lived an “extravagant” lifestyle that involved cocktails, cigars, and big steaks. On Sunday, it debuted a clever new ad showing a very much alive Mr. Big and his exercise instructor sharing a romantic moment in front of a fire. “Should we take another ride? Life’s too short not to,” he says as the camera pulls back to reveal two Peloton’s side by side. Reynolds chips in with a voiceover noting that regular cycling strengthens heart muscles, lowers resting pulse, and reduces blood fat levels before quickly slipping in “He’s alive” as it comes to an end.

Starting your Toyota comes with a cost
Toyota is said to be joining luxury manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes in trying to obtain what The Drive describes as “that sweet, sweet software as a service cash.” According to The Drive, the Japanese automaker is making remote start functionality on its key fobs part of a larger connected services subscription. A Toyota spokesperson confirmed that 2018 or later Toyotas equipped with the manufacturer’s Remote Connect functions “must be enrolled in a valid subscription in order for the key fob to start the car remotely.” Automakers have started charging for apps that enable drivers to monitor, lock or start cars with a phone, but The Drive says Toyota is the first to charge for full use of a physical key fob (the Remote Connect service currently costs $80 a year or $8 a month).

Bored Ape becomes botched ape
An NFT owner is out more than $250,000 after making a so-called “fat finger error” that saw an NFT valued at $300,000 sell for 1% of the cost. The owner, a self-described “solo-traveller, bored ape, marketing agency owner and NFT investor,” planned to list his Bored Ape NFT for sale at 75 ether, but accidentally listed the price at 0.75 ether (about $3,000). According to The Verge, before he could correct the error, the transaction was completed “apparently by a bot programmed to find and buy undervalued listings.” The Bored Apes are part of a particularly valuable collection of just 10,000 NFTs that mix and match attributes like laser eyes and sunglasses to create portraits possessing the qualities of a gamer avatar. The seller himself was sanguine about the whole affair, tweeting “[L]etting it occupy your mind for even one second after you can no longer affect the outcome is purely hurting yourself twice.” An evolved outlook, you might say.

Much mocked, Spam is suddenly hot
Its name has become synonymous with something unwanted and unwelcome, yet sales of Hormel’s canned meat product Spam recently hit a record high for the seventh straight year, according to the BBC. Spam propelled Hormel to sales of $3.5 billion for the three months ending in October, and its chief executive is promising an expanded range of products in 2023. In addition to the U.S. (and particularly Hawaii), Spam also has an avid fanbase in the Asia-Pacific region, said the BBC. In Korea, where it was introduced by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War, it is given as a gift during Lunar New Year celebrations and is a staple in the dish budae jjigae (also known as army stew).

David Brown