What in the World—Week of September 12

NFL ad inventory still in high demand: WSJ
While there’s debate around the future of ad-supported TV, the NFL still seems to be a lock when it comes to ad sales. Two of the league’s broadcast partners, Fox and NBC, said last week that they had sold more than 90% of their regular season advertising inventory, compared to 80% at this time last year. The Wall Street Journal said that the league is an “unrivalled platform” for companies to both showcase and launch products. Some advertisers, meanwhile, have reportedly paid up to $7 million for a spot in the Super Bowl, although reports suggest that after last year’s so-called “Crypto Bowl,” cryptocurrency advertisers have backed away. Meanwhile, NBC sports said that ad-spending commitments for Sunday Night Football are up 15-20%, with more than 90% of commercial space sold out.

Big oil isn’t walking its climate change talk: study
The world’s “supermajor” oil companies are spending about $750 million a year to portray themselves as being proactive on climate change, but a new report from climate think-tank InfluenceMap says there is a stark difference between their communications and how they’re allocating their money. According to InfluenceMap’s analysis of 3,421 items of public communications from BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies, 60% contained at least one green claim, while less than one-quarter (23%) contained claims promoting oil and gas. According to InfluenceMap, claims highlighting their support of or investment in efforts to transition the energy mix were “by far” the most common green claim. But the study found that only 12% of the companies’ capital expenditure is dedicated to “low carbon” activities, and none of their forecasted oil production appears in line with the International Energy Agency’s net zero emissions by 2050.

Will Disney bet the mouse on sports?
Disney CEO Bob Chapek says that sports are “critical” to the entertainment giant’s future, with betting a key area of focus. Speaking at the company’s D23 fan event in California, Chapek said that the company, which owns ESPN, is working hard on a betting app. “Sports betting is part of what our young, say, under-35 sports audience is telling us they want as part of their sports lifestyle,” said Chapek, according to Bloomberg. After activist investor Dan Loeb suggested that Chapek spin off Disney’s sports channels, the Disney CEO said he has received up to 100 enquiries about the business, which he said underscores its overall worth. “If you have a house that you’re gonna put up for sale and you have a hundred buyers, you’ve probably got a pretty cool house,” he said.

U.K. group calls for outdoor advertising ban
A U.K. advocacy group called Adfree Cities is calling for a ban on out-of-home advertising, saying the ads contribute to light pollution and often feature products or services that people can’t afford or don’t need. While such a fight seems unlikely to gain traction, the BBC reports there are precedents. In 2006, for example, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo banned all forms of outdoor advertising under the so-called “Clean City Law,” which saw the removal of more than 15,000 billboards and 300,000 store signs deemed too large. That was followed by the French city of Grenoble in 2014, and a 2021 decision by Amsterdam to ban ads for automobiles powered by fossil fuels and air travel. Adfree Cities’ network director Charlotte Gage says there are “ethical issues” with ads promoting fast food, payday loans and high-carbon products. “[P]eople would rather see community ads and art rather than have multi-billion-dollar companies putting logos and images everywhere,” she said.

Juul pays $438 million to settle marketing investigation
E-cigarette company Juul has agreed to pay $438.5 million to more than 30 U.S. states to settle an investigation into its marketing practices which allegedly deliberately targeted young people. According to Salon, citing a recent peer-reviewed research study, between $130 million and $650 million of Juul’s net revenue in 2018 came from youth. A 2021 study by the FDA found that about 2.55 million American teenagers currently use a nicotine product, with e-cigarettes by far the chosen method. University of Toronto professor Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, likened e-cigarette marketing practices to those of Big Tobacco years ago, with a heavy emphasis on lifestyle and promoting it as cool. “[U]sing all kinds of colours and appealing images of young people themselves using the vaping products, they clearly have adopted tobacco tactics,” he said.

Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

Chris Powell