What in the World — Week of December 12

Could EVs kill the AM radio star?
It’s been an in-car feature for decades, but AM radio could soon be going the way of crank windows, bench seats and cigarette lighters in the EV era, says The New York Times. While AM radio was never the most pleasant sounding media, auto manufacturers say that EVs create more electromagnetic interference than their gas-powered counterparts, interfering with the reception of AM signals, while causing static, noise and a high-frequency hum. Several prominent automakers including Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Volvo have already removed AM radio from their EVs, says the Times, while Ford said that its new F150 Lightning truck would also drop it. Broadcasters worry the decision could irreparably damage their relationship with listeners: “If we’re not there in their car, we’re non-existent,” Ron January, operations manager at Alabama radio station WATV-AM told the Times. According to Nielsen data, about 47 million Americans listen to AM radio, about one-fifth of the total radio-listening public.

Jim Beam introduces ‘Kentucky Hug’ PJs
Bourbon brand Jim Beam has introduced one of the most unique gift ideas of the year with its “Kentucky Hug” pyjamas, a pair of red flannel PJs that feature what it describes as a “built-in hug simulator.” Available for $24.99 on the Jim Beam website, the pyjamas feature a removable weighted panel that puts pressure around the wearer’s neck, shoulders and back to create the sensation of being hugged. The phrase “Kentucky Hug” is used to connote the warm sensation that follows a sip of bourbon. “Gathering together, celebrating family traditions and spending quality time with those you love—especially during the holidays—is at the core of the Jim Beam brand,” said Jim Beam’s senior brand manager, North America, Sarah Cordova.

Amazon launches TikTok-inspired social shopping
Amazon is introducing a TikTok-like feed to its app for select U.S. customers that will feature photos and videos from high-profile influencers. Users access the “Inspire” feed by clicking on the light bulb on the bottom bar of the Amazon app. According to Forbes, the photos and videos will be tailored to individual users depending on their interests, with consumers able to “like” a product prior to purchasing. Accenture predicted this year that social commerce will be a $1.2 trillion industry by 2025, saying that it offers something “radically different” from traditional ecommerce by weaving the act of buying and selling into “the fabric of everyday life and through a real sense of community and connection.” Social currently accounts for 10% of ecommerce sales, growing to 17% in the next three years.

Starbucks begins its NFT Odyssey
Starbucks began beta testing its blockchain- and NFT-based loyalty program Odyssey last week. “Odyssey introduces a new platform where customers can engage with interactive activities called ‘Journeys’ that, when complete, allow members to earn collectible Journey Stamps—which is Starbucks’ less geeky name for NFTs,” reported TechCrunch. Consumers will still scan their existing Starbucks Rewards card, but instead of earning Stars that can be exchanged for in-store discounts, Odyssey members will collect points. It will take about 500 points to earn a coffee-themed NFT on the Polygon blockchain, and the NFTs unlock benefits and experiences—from a virtual class on espresso martinis, to access to special events. “It happens to be built on blockchain and web3 technologies, but the customer… may very well not even know that what they’re doing is interacting with blockchain technology,” Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer told TechCrunch in September.

Celebs sued for promoting Bored Apes
Meanwhile in other NFT news… a new class-action lawsuit was filed last week alleging that a number of A-list celebrities including Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Paris Hilton, and Justin Bieber were paid for promoting Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs without disclosing they were being compensated. The complainants say Yuga Labs, the parent company of BAYC, and the celebrities were part of a “vast scheme” to inflate the value of the NFTs. “Defendants’ promotional campaign was wildly successful, generating billions of dollars in sales and re-sales … causing investors to purchase these losing investments at drastically inflated prices,” the complaint reads, according to ArtNews. The suit also names Guy Oseary, talent manager for Madonna, U2 and other music superstars, as well as a partner in Yuga Labs.

Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash


Chris Powell