What in the World—Week of June 20

Jack & Coke officially come together
Two of the world’s most iconic beverage brands are finally getting together. The Coca-Cola Co. and Brown-Forman Corp., maker of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whisky, announced last week that they are bringing a ready-to-drink Jack & Coke cocktail to market. The 350ml cans containing about 5% alcohol will debut in Mexico later this year, with a global launch to follow. Ready-to-drink products are expected to make up 8% of the total alcohol market by 2025, up from 4% in 2020, according to the industry tracker IWSR. Both Coca-Cola and its primary rival Pepsi have begun making forays into alcoholic drinks, according to The Wall Street Journal, with Pepsi planning an alcoholic version of Mountain Dew with Boston Beer Co. and Coca-Cola launching Topo Chico hard seltzer and Simply Spiked Lemonade, which was developed in partnership with Molson Coors Beverage Co.

Viral feet videos turn out to be sponsored 
Something’s afoot at TikTok. According to NBC News, videos about the photo-selling website FeetFinder have been popping up on the popular social media platform in recent weeks, with creators claiming to have made thousands of dollars and gotten “dummy rich” by uploading pictures of their feet to the site. However, some creators have since revealed that the videos were actually undisclosed sponsorship for the fetish site. FeetFinder founder and CEO Patrick Nielsen said in an email that the company suggested that influencers use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored in posts, and that any influencers who pasted an ad without those disclosures were “suggested to remove/delete that video ASAP.” According to the NBC report, the hashtag #ffsponsored has 3.8 million views on TikTok, but hundreds of videos that seem to promote the site—including one that has 15 million views—don’t disclose that the post is linked to an ad deal. TikTok did not respond.

BTS hiatus could cost investors billions
K-Pop supergroup BTS’s decision to take an indefinite hiatus has not only disappointed fans, it has angered investors in the band’s management group, HYBE. According to Reuters, shares in HYBE—which went public two years ago—plunged 25% in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, wiping nearly $1.55 billion off its market value. All able-bodied South Korean men are required to do two years of military service, and several BTS members are approaching that age. An analyst wrote that the band’s lack of public activity could result in a loss of 750 billion Korean won in 2023. Reuters reported that a bill pushing for military exemptions for globally renowned artists is currently pending in parliament.

Anheuser-Busch gives up Super Bowl exclusivity
The Budweiser Clydesdales have been a Super Bowl fixture for years, but brewer Anheuser-Busch has opened the (barn) door for rival brands to appear in advertising’s biggest showcase. The brewer announced last week that it is not renewing its exclusivity deal for Super Bowl LVII—meaning that other beer brands will be able to run ads in the big game for the first time since 1989. SI.com quoted Spencer Gordon, AB’s VP of consumer connections, as saying that while it is a “tentpole moment” for consumers, the Super Bowl doesn’t line up with the “key moment of consumption” for the beer industry. Gordon said that the company is evolving its advertising investment to ensure its brands reach the right customers at the right time with the right messages.

Netflix is creating a real-life Squid Games
Think you could make it through Squid Games’ red light-green light game alive? How about that gruesome tug-of-war? Netflix is creating a real-life (but thankfully non-fatal) version of its hit show, featuring 456 contestants (the same number as the show) and a $4.56 million payday for the eventual winner. The dystopian South Korean drama, which followed a group of down-on-their-luck contestants playing a series of deadly games for the chance to win life-changing money, was a breakout hit for the streamer, with more than 1.65 billion viewing hours in the 28 days after its premiere. The new reality show will be shot in the U.K., with Netflix announcing that it is open to English speakers around the world. “The stakes are high, but in this game the worst fate is going home empty-handed,” said Netflix on a casting site for the show.

Chris Powell