What in the World—Week of May 15

BMW Films is back, and it’s electric

It’s been a while (seven years to be exact), but BMW Films is back and is scheduled to debut The Calm at the Cannes Film Festival this week. Directed by Sam Hargrave, the film stars Pom Klementieff, Uma Thurman and—as is the point of BMW Films—a sexy new model from the German luxury automaker, in this case the electric BMW i7.

In the film, Klementieff and Thurman play secret agents summoned to a meeting in Cannes, only to be confronted by mysterious adversaries. BMW broke new ground with its famous action-packed films in the early 2000s, which were so innovative they led to the creation of the Titanium competition at the Cannes Lions.

“The creative and innovative nature of this short film showcases the cutting-edge approach this series has taken since the beginning,” said Jens Thiemer, SVP customer and brand, BMW. “Bringing the franchise back in 2023 with two powerful female leads feels especially poignant. And the fact that our fully electric vehicles are at the sharp end of the world’s first ever completely silent car chase sequence gives The Calm an additional relevance.”

Influencer admits crashing plane for a sponsor

Daredevil influencer Trevor Jacob has admitted to purposely crashing a small plane and then obstructing investigators as part of a stunt reportedly tied to a sponsorship deal with a wallet company.

In the 2021 video, still on YouTube, Jacob is flying over Los Padres National Forest in California when the engine appears to cut out. Rather than calling for help or trying to restart the engine, Jacob jumps from the plane and parachutes to the ground.

Cameras on the plane’s wing and tail continue filming as it plummets to the ground. The rest of the film shows Jacob hiking to the plane to retrieve the cameras from the wreck, and then hiking back out of the wilderness. During the investigation into the crash, Jacob was found to have lied multiple times and destroyed evidence from the crash. He signed a plea agreement last week, and pled guilty to a charge of obstructing a federal investigation.

Jacob admitted in his plea agreement that the stunt was part of a wallet promotion, reported Engadget. “Trevor is taking full responsibility for his mistake in judgment; he hopes to move past it and to use his status as a world-class action sports athlete, entrepreneur, and influencer to be a source for good in society,” said his lawyer Keri Curtis Axel.

Twitter taps well-known ad sales exec as CEO

After spending years downplaying the value of social media to advertisers when compared to traditional media, Linda Yaccarino will now be tasked with rebuilding one of social media’s most popular—though badly damaged—platforms.

Elon Musk has chosen Yaccarino as his replacement as CEO, less than a year after taking over and making deep cuts and changes that have frustrated and confused users and driven away advertisers.

“Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app,” Musk tweeted on Friday. As the head of ad sales for NBCUniversal, Yaccarino was well-known to media buyers. But, as Semafor’s Max Tani wrote over the weekend, part of her reputation was telling those buyers that social media was not a safe place for their clients.

“Yaccarino is a larger-than-life figure in the ad industry who once referred to herself as the Kim Kardashian of NBCU,” he wrote. “Her hire could be a lifeline for Twitter, which effectively abandoned its core advertising business when Musk arrived without successfully pivoting to a new one.”

Adidas selling Yeezy’s for charity

Adidas has finally decided what to do with the $1.2 billion in Yeezy merchandise that has been stockpiled in warehouses since the world-famous athletics brand parted ways with world-famous rapper Kanye West over his antisemitic remarks last fall.

While Adidas had reportedly considered torching the stock, “burning is not the solution,” CEO Bjørn Gulden said during the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting Thursday. “What we are trying to do now over time is to sell parts of this inventory and donate money to the organizations that are helping us and that were also hurt by Kanye’s statements,” Gulden said.

Adidas confirmed in March that West will still receive loyalties for the sale of any remaining Yeezy stock. Even without West, Adidas can still make and sell Yeezy sneakers—which accounted for 10% of its revenue last year—since it holds all the patents and copyrights for the IP, designs, and colourways.

Wendy’s introducing a drive-thru chatbot

“Welcome to Wendy’s, can AI take your order?” The fast-food chain is launching a pilot project in Columbus next month in which it will use an AI-powered chatbot to speak with drive-thru customers and take their orders.

According to a press release, between 75% and 80% of Wendy’s customers use the drive-thru, but the ordering experience can be complicated by a variety of factors, such as the complexities of menu options, special requests, and ambient noise.

Because its orders are fully customizable and food is prepared when ordered, this presents “billions” of possible order combinations, “leaving room for miscommunication or incorrect orders,” the company said.

Using Google Cloud’s AI technology, the chatbot will be able to have conversations with customers, understand made-to-order requests, and generate responses to frequently asked questions. The technology will enable Wendy’s to create a “truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience” for customers, said president and CEO Todd Penegor.

David Brown