What in the World—Week of February 14

Is Wordle really harder under NYT ownership?
Word nerds are contending that the words in the daily word puzzle game Wordle have become decidedly more, well, stout since it was acquired by The New York Times. “Wordle started out like H-O-U-S-E, and now it’s like E-R-G-O-T,” said one complaint on Twitter. Theories that the Times is looking to put its imprimatur on the game are running rampant online, says The Guardian, although the Times insists that’s not the case. “Nothing has changed about the game play,” said communications director Jordan Cohen (though a cynic might think otherwise). Difficult or not, Wordle has become an online sensation, with its daily users shooting up from 300,000 at the start of the year to more than 3 million today.

Adidas follows bare breasts with ‘I’m Possible’ 
A few days after tweeting an ad featuring 25 pairs of bare breasts to promote its new sports bra, Adidas introduced a larger campaign Monday called “I’m Possible,” a twist on its long-running “Impossible is Nothing” platform. The original tweet generated a great deal of attention, despite not being postable on Facebook or Instagram because of their rules around nudity. WWD noted that the post generated some backlash, but Adidas stood its ground, issuing a statement explaining the gallery was intended to show “just how diverse breasts are, featuring different shapes and sizes that highlight why tailored support is paramount.” The new sports bra collection is designed for women of all shapes and sizes, with 43 styles in 73 sizes. The campaign, introduced on the Adidas website this morning, features stories of women clearing obstacles and doing amazing things that may have seemed impossible. “Create your own uniform. Be a cover model. A powerful athlete. Or compete as a trans woman. Impossible? No. I’m possible.”

Did Coinbase’s QR code ad win the Super Bowl?
Given their enormous price tag, it’s not surprising that Super Bowl ads tend to be all about the spectacle. But U.S. crytocurrency company Coinbase found success with a decidedly minimalist approach. Its 60-second ad in the so-called Cyrpto Bowl consisted of nothing more than a QR code that bounced around the screen in a way that mimicked the old DVD logo. Anyone who successfully scanned the ad was taken to a link offering $15 in free bitcoin to anyone creating a Coinbase account. The Hill quoted Coinbase’s chief product officer Surojit Chatterjee as saying that the company’s landing page saw more than 20 million hits in one minute, a number he described as “historic and unprecedented.”

Peter Thiel steps away from Meta
Peter Thiel, a long-time board member of Meta, the world’s most powerful and influential media platform, is stepping down to help Republican candidates who support Donald Trump’s agenda win in the 2022 mid-terms. Thiel was Facebook’s first outside investor in 2004, and has “long been considered one of the strongest voices on the board,” reported The Wall Street Journal. “He has repeatedly advised [Meta CEO Mark] Zuckerberg not to bow to public pressure, particularly regarding the social-media network’s effects on politics.” “Peter has been a valuable member of our board and I’m deeply grateful for everything he has done for our company—from believing in us when few others would, to teaching me so many lessons about business, economics, and the world,” said Zuckerberg in a statement.

Snapchat puts ads in Stories, with creators earning a share
Snapchat is testing mid-roll advertising that will appear in the Stories of its Snap Stars (the name given to its biggest creators), with creators earning a share of the revenue. According to TechCrunch, the feature is in beta for a small group of U.S. creators, ahead of a broader rollout in the coming months. While the specifics were unclear, Snapchat said the payout is determined by a formula using factors such as posting frequency and audience engagement. “With this test, Snapchat is attempting to combine the models of both creator funds and revenue sharing,” said TechCrunch. “But it’s hard to say how advantageous this product will be for creators when the payout formula remains a mystery.” The Verge, meanwhile, said that this is the first time that creators will receive a cut of revenue on Stories.

David Brown