What in the World—Week of October 31

IKEA wants changes to horror game set in one of its stores
IKEA has potentially thrown an (Allen?) wrench in the plans of an independent game developer who is creating a survival horror video game set in a simulation of one of its stores.

While the store in The Store is Closed is called STYR, it’s unmistakeably an IKEA—the same blue and yellow colour scheme, and other references such as in-store signage promoting “Swedish meat, now 79% flesh” that is an obvious nod to IKEA’s famous meatballs.

According to the gaming site Kotaku, IKEA’s New York law firm Fross Zelnick sent a cease-and-desist letter to the game’s developer, Jacob Shaw, saying he’s committing trademark infringement for including elements such as “a blue box-like building,” “yellow vertical striped shirts identical to those worn by IKEA personnel,” as well as “furniture that looks like IKEA furniture.”

“All of the foregoing immediately suggest that the game takes place in an IKEA store,” says the letter. The furniture giant has given Shaw 10 days to “change the game and remove all indicia associated with the famous IKEA stores.”

P&G’s Pritchard calls for more ad spend in Black-owned media
P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard is calling for greater marketing investment in Black-owned media, which is currently only attracting about 2% of U.S. spending.

Speaking at the ANA’s “Masters of Marketing” summit last week, Pritchard said that the industry needs to step up not because it’s morally right, but also good business, reported AdExchanger.com.

Minority groups represent billions of dollars in consumer buying power, said Pritchard, and could be “the economic growth driver for decades to come.” Pritchard told the audience that he scrapped prepared remarks to focus instead on investing in Black-owned media.

The importance of multiculturalism shouldn’t be limited to strictly multicultural-focused events, he said. “Multicultural marketing is mainstream marketing.” Half of P&G’s sales growth consistently comes from Black, Hispanic and Asian American consumers, he said. “We have to seize the substantial market growth in front of us.”

Ford scraps popular model to focus on EVs
Ford says it plans to scrap European production of its Fiesta model a year ahead of schedule to focus on EV production. The decision comes as Europeans face an energy crisis arising out of the war in Ukraine.

Ford has “stumbled” in the EV era, says Quartz, and investors are pushing its new chief executive Jim Farley to “redouble his efforts to release a full line of EVs representing 2 million electric vehicles each year.” Ford expects half of its sales to be all-electric by 2030.

Once the top-selling car in Europe, the Fiesta has been part of the automaker’s lineup since 1976, introduced at a time when the world was seeking more efficient vehicles during another energy crisis. Tim Urquhart, an automotive analyst at IHS Markit, said Ford’s decision is “another sign of the electrification of the European car market.”

Brands react to the Musk era at Twitter
Elon Musk is said to be contemplating several changes to Twitter in the wake of his $44 billion purchase of the platform, including requiring verified users to pay a monthly fee to retain the blue checkmark, and even reviving its failed video app, Vine.

But advertisers also remain wary of Musk’s plans for Twitter, with Forbes reporting that both Ford and GM plan to pause their advertising on the platform until they’ve had a chance to assess any changes under Musk’s ownership. “As is the normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising,” said Ford in an email statement to Forbes.

Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist,” which has given rise to concerns that Twitter will be more tolerant of racist and other offensive content. On Friday, The Washington Post reported there was a nearly 500% increase in the use of the n-word on the app over the 12 hours after Musk’s purchase was finalized. Those findings came from the Network Contagion Research Institute, which analyzes hundreds of millions of messages across social media.

Buy now, pay later services have become a problem for Gen Z
The buy now, pay later industry—which lets users pay for products over the course of several instalments—is having a profoundly negative effect on younger consumers, says Bloomberg.

BNPL players like Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm were considered an enticing shopping option for Gen Zs thanks in part to their partnerships with “hip clothing retailers” and social media influencers.

The industry’s five major players originated 180 million loans totalling $24.2 billion in 2021, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but have been “plagued by delinquency” as rising inflation has bit into consumer budgets.

According to Bloomberg, younger users are more likely to have loans in “derogatory status,” which means they’re in default or have been sent to a debt-collection agency. About 11% of users paid at least one late fee last year, with nearly one-fifth (18%) of consumers aged 18 to 29 falling behind on payments.

Chris Powell