Fortnite spoofs Apple and files a lawsuit, and pumpkin spice just won't stay away: Friday Wake-Up Call
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Epic Games, the maker of the popular multiplayer video game Fortnite, is battling Apple over access to the tech giant’s App Store, and the fight has gone referential. On Thursday, Apple banned the game from its platform. In retaliation, Epic released an impressive and exacting parody spot of Apple’s most famous commercial, “1984,” with the live-action actors replaced with CGI Fortnite-style avatars.
“Zombie-like minions peer up at a black-and-white screen. In place of the menacing bespectacled figure that appears in the original spot, there’s a character with a massive apple head, and the hero, a Fortnite gamer who hurls a unicorn scepter at his face,” write Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz and Ilyse Liffreing.
Epic also filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, accusing it of becoming the very monopolistic behemoth the original “1984” ad railed against, IBM at that time. The parody, titled “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” is too polished to have been thrown together, so it seems Epic was expecting matters would come to a head. A timestamp in the spot dates it 08.13.20, and a scroll at the end calls on viewers to “join the fight” to stop Apple. A link leads gamers to an FAQ, including instructions for iOS users who want a refund for a game they can no longer play—a refund they’ll have to get directly from Apple.
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began in the U.S., new filings for unemployment benefits dropped below 1 million last week. That’s still about four times higher than each week before lockdown, and it’s still worse than even the worst days of the Great Recession. The unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent, far higher than March’s 3.5 percent.
It may seem like a bit of good news, as weekly filings had actually climbed in late July, and more people collecting paychecks is a good thing. But it also means that more people are back at work, likely in jobs that require them to show up in person, and that could increase transmission rates, leading an ugly ouroboros of infection, closures and layoffs.
For people out of work, though, the future looks bleak. Hiring fell in July, Senate Republicans are still infighting over whether to extend supplemental unemployment benefits, and the pandemic has dragged on so long that some people are staring down the end of their benefits altogether. While the CARES Act extended the number of weeks people can collect benefits, gig workers and contractors typically don’t qualify and could be hitting their caps in the next month or so, leaving them with no safety net while the pandemic rages on.
Meanwhile, Thursday was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, so all of the money Black women earned both last year and so far this year—wages, unemployment or supplemental—brings them to parity with what white men earned in 2019.
As the saying goes, no white foam before Labor Day—or something like that. But both Starbucks and Dunkin’ plan to kick off this year’s pumpkin spice latte season in August, the earliest they’ve ever subjected customers to the off-putting aroma. No matter that actual pumpkins aren’t typically ready to harvest until mid-fall.
But who knows what crazy things will be happening by then? That seems to be the thinking at Dunkin’ anyway, which released a statement that positioned the flavor as a balm for uncertain times. Apparently pumpkin spice will be the last American institution left standing.
Certainly, this is actually a bid to boost flagging sales amid a terrible recession. In the same way that fireworks sellers heavily discounted inventory this year long before the Fourth of July (leading to a spate of late-night celebrations across the country), look for retailers to stretch out holidays and drop specials earlier than usual, in the hopes of snagging extra dollars they might not otherwise get. With Black Friday already canceled in many places, brands are sure to cram promotions into every nook and cranny of the calendar.
Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of ad discovery platform Taboola, grew up playing with a knockoff brand of toy bricks. So when his wife introduced to him official LEGO sets ten years ago, he was hooked. The Millennium Falcon, a star destroyer, the Batmobile—he has them all, and proudly displays them in his home.
Singolda talks about his love of LEGO and his plans to build gears and a working clock from the bricks on the latest episode of the “Ad Block” podcast. “It’s a great parent-kid thing to do together,” he says. “You can just create something from your imagination.”
He even built flowers out of LEGO to give to his wife for their tenth anniversary. "There's this misconception that some people are geniuses and then there’s the rest," Singolda says. "And in fact, I think that most people are a lot more average than they like to think. What makes people have an edge is their ability to becomes mad obsessed about something, mad curious about something."
Hail to the TBD: The Washington Football team is asking for suggestions for its new name, a permanent replacement for the racial slur it used for decades. Aside from the inevitable Football McFootballFace campaign this will surely invite, names like Warriors and even Red Skin Potatoes have been tossed around for years by fans. The team isn’t committing to using a fan suggestions, which might be wise. In 1997, Washington’s basketball team let fans vote on its new name, which is why the Washington Wizards are a thing. Still, it could have been the Sea Dogs.
Fresh faced: Today is National Tattoo Removal Day, and tattoo removal company Removery is offering to erase racist and hate-linked tattoos for free. Think of it as a skin rebranding. “The chain has a buy-one, give-one model,” writes Ad Age’s Jack Nef, “where every paying customer generates a free tattoo removal for someone else who qualifies. They include people who are formerly incarcerated, members of organized gangs, survivors of human trafficking or domestic abuse or anyone wishing to remove radicalized, hateful or racist tattoos.”
Child labor: Fisher-Price turned a meme into reality with its new “My Home Office” playset for kids, complete with wooden smartphone, headset and coffee mug. “The $24.99 set appears designed to help children tap into the pandemic-induced reality of their parents working from home,” writes Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli. Does it come with iffy wi-fi and a bathrobe for maximum verisimilitude?
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
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