What in the World — Week of October 17

Netflix AirDropped consumers to promote Stephen King flick
The call is coming from inside the billboard. To promote its adaptation of Stephen King’s novella Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, in which a character receives text messages from beyond the grave, Netflix recently gave people in New York and Los Angeles a sense of what he might have felt. Working with David Miami, Netflix erected billboards in both Times Square and along Sunset Boulevard that featured cryptic text messages. People near the boards then received an AirDrop request featuring an image of the board and urging them to check their texts. The requests were labelled as being sent from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. According to Marketing Brew, 200 people accepted the AirDrop request. The movie is currently No. 2 on Netflix’s top 10 movie ranking.

Ye to buy Parler
If you had Elon Musk AND Kanye West on your social media platform owner bingo card, congratulations. On Monday, Parler—which describes itself as an “uncancellable free speech platform”—announced that it has entered into an agreement in principle to sell the platform to West, now known as Ye, on a deal that is expected to close by the end of 2022. “This deal will change the world, and change the way the world thinks about free speech,” said George Farmer, CEO of Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies. “Ye is making a groundbreaking move into the free speech media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again.” According to The Verge, Parler’s emphasis on free speech has turned it into “lightning rod” for right-wing conspiracy theorists, and it has been accused of helping the Jan. 6 rioters plan the attack on the U.S. Capitol building, leading both Google and Apple to remove the app from its stores. The deal comes just over a week after Ye was locked out of his Twitter account for an anti-semitic tweet.

Beyond Meat announces layoffs
Could Beyond Meat’s rapid rise have been no steak, no sizzle? In a recent regulatory filing, the company said it plans to shed 19% of its global workforce, approximately 200 people, in a move aimed at sharpening its focus “on a set of key growth priorities, and target cash flow positive operations within the second half of 2023.” The company also announced the departure of its former COO Douglas Ramsey, who was recently arrested for biting a man’s nose at a college football game (insert hungry for real meat joke here). According to Quartz, demand for plant-based meat, particularly in the refrigerated segment, has been weak, with some retailers postponing or cancelling promotions. “One of the biggest challenges for the plant-based meat companies is that they have yet to reach price parity with meat,” said Quartz, and the products are also more expensive than regular vegetarian items like lentils and beans.

P&G looks to woo inflation-weary consumers
P&G is rolling out ad campaigns and features for some of its best-known brands in an attempt to retain customers who might be seeking out cheaper alternatives in the midst of high inflation. Citing Nielsen data, The Wall Street Journal reported today that after several years of consistently expanding its share of the U.S. market, P&G brands like Gillette and Tide have recently “underperformed” against rivals that in some cases can cost up to $3 less. According to the WSJ, P&G is using both marketing and product-development dollars to demonstrate that buying its products can actually help consumers save money in the long run. In addition to ad campaigns like the ongoing “Cold Caller” promoting Tide’s cold-water washing capabilities, P&G has also introduced more absorbent versions of Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet paper, and a new bottle for its detergent brand Dawn that prevents drips, and soap getting stuck in the container.

CNN pulls plug on NFT marketplace
Hey, at least it lasted longer than CNN Plus. CNN is shuttering its NFT marketplace Vault by CNN after just one year, according to The Verge. The Vault sold NFTs related to key historic events or artistic interpretations inspired by them, enabling collectors to purchase, for example, a GIF of its projection that Barack Obama would be the next president, or a report that the U.S. Supreme Court had guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage. While the Vault reportedly pulled in $300,000, the NFT market has cooled considerably recently, perhaps as people come to their senses after realizing they PAID HOW MUCH?!? for a digital rendering of a monkey. According to The Verge, some on a Discord channel for the service accused CNN of a “rug pull,” which in crypto terms means they pulled support and funds from a project, leaving those who purchased with nothing to show for their investment. However, CNN said that it plans to compensate “the thousands of collectors who joined us in this experiment.”

Chris Powell