When Brands Face Trends | M.AD Monday Newsletter

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Hello and welcome to February 2021: the perfectly rectangular month.

After a tumultuous start to the year, we’re all looking to make sense of what the future has in store.

Here’s a few of the most important stories for a creative like you:


Apple Vs. Robinhood: When Brands Face Trends

It takes decades to nurture a brand…and just a moment to shatter it.

Last week, stock-trading app-cum-social-movement,Robinhood, found that out the interesting way. Once the darling of retail investors all over the world, management’s move to limit trading in a handful of viral stocks (with little to warning) has them facing a titanic backlash.

Financial technicals aside, at its heart we have a branding problem: for years they made a promise to protect customers against the big bad wolves of Wall Street. Last week they failed to deliver.

Now, predictably, the animosity so many felt for hedge funds and market makers has pivoted to the betrayal of Robinhood. They may or may not be the real villains—but as always, it’s the ones who publicly switch sides who often get the most heat.

Meanwhile, Apple is having a moment—for precisely the opposite reason.

For the last few years they’ve worked to make data privacy a hallmark of the Apple experience. Last week, CEO Tim Cook put it bluntly at the CPDP Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels when he called out the emerging “data-industrial complex.”

“They’re manipulating people’s behavior,” said Cook, in conversation with GQ after the bombshell in Brussels.

The result is a groundswell of support for Apple (itself obviously a massive tech company) as they ride the increasingly intense backlash against the perceived immorality of conduct at social media giants like Facebook and Twitter.

It’s a marketing win that stands in direct contrast to the ongoing nightmare at Robinhood. When it comes to public perception, so often the momentum comes down to what you say vs what you do. On that front, Tim Cook could give embattled Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev a lesson.

The Future of Work Spaces

If you have the option to work remotely, you’re probably not quite ready to go back into an office or open-plan coworking space, even if the people around you are wearing masks. But what are the other options?
Nooka, an Irish startup, is launching a new remote work model that it calls “proximity office space”: tiny, shed-like offices that people can lease to use in their own backyards or re-rent, Airbnb-style, to their neighbors.

That’s just one possibility
. Earlier last month, the New York Times broke down the wider social impacts of what happens when many of us refuse to return to the office.

2020’s Greatest Designs?

The Wallpaper* Design Awards 2021 celebrates the design hits of the previous year, looking back on the places, products and phenomena that have lifted spirits.

If you’re looking to recap the past year in design, there’s no better source. Check it out for everything from the year’s finest playground construction, to the best use of material in packaging.


The Super Bowl Ads of 2021

The big news in Super Bowl advertising so far this year has been Budweiser’s decision to drop out entirely…with the stated intention of directing the roughly 6 million dollars they’ll save toward “promoting COVID-19 awareness”. Since that announcement, both Coke and Pepsi have joined the movement and declared their intention to sit the game out.

On the other side of things, Coors Light is taking another approach—skipping the game for a spot in your dreams. They brought in a professional psychologist to help develop a video that could possibly trigger nighttime visions of Coors Light. The allegedly dream-changing video will be available on Feb 3.

Want a taste of what the other big brands have to offer? Ad Age has collected all the commercials released so far.

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