What in the World—Week of May 16

Goop’s luxury diapers aren’t real (thank goodness)
Gwyneth Paltrow’s luxury wellness brand Goop has incurred a lot of hate and head-scratching over the years for products like vaginal quartz eggs, so the pitchforks quickly came out last week when it announced on Instagram that it was launching a luxury disposable diaper brand called The Diapér. According to the post, its diapers would be lined with “virgin alpaca wool and fastened with amber gemstones known for their ancient emotional-cleansing properties.” The product felt entirely aligned with Goop’s brand aesthetic, but it turns out that it was an awareness stunt conceived with the non-profit Baby2Baby showing how diapers are taxed as luxury goods in 33 states. “What we actually want is to start a conversation about how much diapers cost,” said Goop. “Despite the absolute necessity of diapers, in 33 states they aren’t treated as an essential item.”

Is Dr. Seuss preparing for a sale?
Dr. Seuss Enterprises is reportedly talking to banks about valuation exercises and a possible sale. According to Axios, the private company that manages the work of famed children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel “is one of the most prized collections of intellectual property in the world, and nearly every major Hollywood heavyweight is likely to show interest.” While a sale is not imminent, Axios reported that the company was prodded to explore its options with streamer demand for child-friendly content so high, and after the sales of Moonbug Entertainment for as much as $3 billion, and the Roald Dahl Story Company to Netflix for more than $600 million. Two “obvious bidders” for Dr. Seuss would be Comcast and Warner Animation Group, said Axios.

McDonald’s is pulling out of Russia
More than 30 years after opening its first Russian restaurant in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990, McDonald’s announced on Monday that it intends to permanently halt operations in the country. “The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” said the QSR in a statement. The company, which temporarily suspended operations in Russia shortly after the country’s invasion of Ukraine, said it is pursuing the sale of its entire portfolio of restaurants to a local buyer, and will begin the process of “de-Arching” those restaurants—meaning they will no longer use the McDonald’s name, logo, branding or menu. The fast-food giant had nearly 850 restaurants in Russia, 84% of which it operated itself. It employs approximately 62,000 people in the country, and said it will ensure they are paid until the transaction is finalized.

Shake Shack makes scents of its burgers and fries
The brand love for Shake Shack has led the U.S. burger chain to partner with luxury home fragrance brand Apotheke so people can make their homes smell like its burgers and fries. They have created two 5 oz. scented candles—$42 for the pair—to “celebrate the spirit of NYC (both of our hometowns!), our love of innovation, and creating warm spaces that are welcoming to all,” said the Apotheke landing page for the special project. “Burger in the Park,” has top notes of green grass, griddle smoke and fresh tomato meant to evoke “the first bite of a perfect ShackBurger in the fresh spring air of NYC’s Madison Square Park.” And “Shake & Fries” has top notes of sea salt and pastry cream delight, designed to evoke “the first dip of a salty, crispy crinkle-cut fry into a creamy milkshake.” The candles went on sale May 12 and were sold out as of Monday morning.

With market value falling, Peloton announces brand refresh
Just days after announcing that it lost $757 million in the first quarter—which The New York Times said said was “yet another sign that the pandemic bubble has burst”—connected fitness bike maker Peloton has announced a brand refresh and advertising campaign that includes its first-ever tagline: “Motivation that moves you.” The North American campaign from Mother LA features star Peloton instructors—many of whom have garnered significant social followings—giving inspiring speeches to people in a variety of settings, from a 1980s boardroom to a locker room and a Medieval village. There’s a lot riding on the campaign for Peloton, which has seen its market value plummet from a high of $47 billion early in the pandemic to just $4 billion today, according to the Times. The company recently announced that it was lowering the price of its equipment, but raising the price of its monthly subscription for the first time in eight years.

David Brown