What in the World—Week of January 24

Samsung Singapore pulls ad over complaints about drag queen
Samsung has withdrawn an ad running in Singapore after people complained about it showing a drag queen. Part of the “Listen to your Heart” campaign by Cheil, the ad showed people listening to voice messages from loved ones on Samsung’s Galaxy Buds. According to the BBC, the ad drew fire from some viewers, who said it was insensitive to the Muslim community for showing a drag queen, who shared a message of love with his mother. Samsung pulled the ad from all of its platforms last week. “We acknowledge that we have fallen short in this instance,” said the company in a Facebook post. “Singapore has a minority ethnic Malay community, most of whom—though not all—identify as being religiously Muslim,” said the BBC. While others expressed support for the ad, critics saw it as “an attempt to push LGBT ideology.”

Amazon gets into old-school retail
E-commerce giant Amazon is taking the logical next step in its plans to take over the retail world: A physical store. According to The New York Times, the Amazon Style store will open in a shopping mall near Los Angeles, covering about 30,000 sq. ft. Amazon is also promising a number of technology enhancements to the traditional retail experience. “Using the Amazon Shopping app, customers can send items to a fitting room, where they can use a touchscreen to browse more options, rate items, and request more sizes or styles that are delivered directly to their room within minutes,” it said.

Another Peloton heart attack
For the second time in a little more than one month, Peloton has been featured in the storyline of a top TV show, with a character having a heart attack while riding one of the connected exercise bikes. In December, it was Mr. Big in the Sex and the City reboot, and on Sunday night, Billions character Mike Wagner suffered a heart attack after a Peloton workout. Unlike Mr. Big, however, “Wags” survived his attack and said to his employees “I’m not going out like Mr. Big.” According to The New York Times, Peloton had not agreed to the use of its brand or intellectual property, and did not provide equipment for the show. The show’s producers said the scene was shot last spring, with the line about Mr. Big added in post-production. “We added the line because it was what Wags would say,” said the producers, who did not immediately respond to questions about whether Peloton was aware of its cameo.

M&M’s get a makeover
M&M’s is the latest brand to undergo a makeover in an attempt to be more diverse and inclusive. And while brands like Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Jemima were long overdue for a refresh, the M&M’s rebrand announced last week by parent company Mars Wrigley seems to have largely been met with bemusement. The changes include slight adjustments to the characters’ skin tones, as well as giving them “more nuanced personalities” that underscore the importance of self-expression, and an updated tone of voice that is “inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.” According to reports, the changes mean that Orange M&M will now acknowledge his anxiety, and Red M&M will tone down his bossiness. Not mentioned in the announcement, but receiving considerable attention, is a decision to swap out the green M&M’s knee-high boots for sneakers, and giving the Brown M&M lower heels. Fox News host Tucker Carlson complained the change made Green M&M “less sexy.”

SI introduces new ad mandate for Swimsuit issue
Sports Illustrated has announced a new advertising mandate for its Swimsuit Issue, stating that it will only accept advertising from brands that support gender equity causes. In an announcement introducing the “Pay With Change” initiative last week, SI said the issue will “celebrate companies who are creating change for women in the varied ways they need it, and brands making progress, big or small, can buy in.” Ads in the issue will only be permitted to show the progress that each brand is making to build equity for women. An undisclosed percentage from every ad dollar generated by the issue will be used to create the Sports Illustrated Gender Equity Fund, which will support a non-profit organization “on the frontlines” of helping create an equitable future for women. SI has made efforts to include more ethnicities and body types in the Swimsuit Issue in recent years, including featuring the first transgender cover model in 2021.

David Brown