TikTok names first fund recipients, and McDonald’s scandal Supersized by nude photos: Tuesday Wake-Up Call
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Food, folks and drama
McDonald’s is now serving its ex-CEO drama with a side order of fresh scandal. As Bloomberg News reports (via Ad Age), the fast feeder has filed suit against Steve Easterbrook, “alleging his termination last fall over a relationship with an employee shouldn’t have included severance pay because he ‘concealed evidence and lied about his wrongdoing.’ So now Mickey D’s is trying to claw back his golden parachute.
The alleged wrongdoing includes actions that would make Grimace, um, grimace:
According to the complaint, the evidence against Easterbrook includes dozens of naked or explicit photographs and videos of various women, including some employees, that Easterbrook had sent as attachments to his personal email account from his work account. The time stamps on the photos of employees show they were all taken in late 2018 or early 2019, when he was CEO.
Keep reading here to find out how and why McDonald’s only discovered these photographs last month—despite an investigation conducted in Oct. 2019.
That was then, this is now: “Easterbrook, who is British, was hailed as a hero of corporate America after he doubled McDonald’s market capitalization after taking over in 2015,” per The Daily Beast.
What’s at stake: “Easterbrook’s severance package was worth $41.8 million when he left the Chicago-based company, executive pay firm Equilar has estimated,” per Reuters.
Billionaire Boys Club
“Tim Cook is now a billionaire, but not the Jeff Bezos kind,” per The Verge. Um ... not a bald billionaire? Not a straight billionaire? Life is short, so we’re going to save you a click: Cook is the rare non-founder CEO to join the “three-comma club.”
TikTok don’t stop
President Trump may want to ban TikTok in the U.S., but the wildly popular short-video app is acting like it’s here to stay. In late July, the platform announced a $200 million+ Creator Fund (Bloomberg News coverage via Ad Age) designed to help U.S. TikTok stars monetize their popularity—and on Monday the company announced the first 19 grant recipients. (As the company puts it, the fund is “starting with $200 million and growing to $1 billion in the U.S. over the next three years,” so you may be seeing different headlines about the outlay.) Per TikTok’s announcement, they include:
• Ross Smith, “a veteran digital entertainment personality from Westerville, Ohio, known for his hilarious videos filmed with his Granny.”
• Spencer Polanco Knight, “a Beatbox artist from Manhattan whose growth on TikTok over the past year has been explosive, receiving support from almost 40 million followers.”
• Chance Moore and Kate Hudson, who are “parents to Eliza, an amazing and beautiful 10-month old girl battling cancer.”
If you’re a TikTok addict like some of us (no names), more than a few of the grant recipients will be familiar to you.
The message here: This is a deft bit of well-timed P.R. from TikTok in that it not only offers a brave, the-show-must-go-on face to the world, but demonstrates that TikTok offers a ton of varied and compelling content far beyond the viral dance snippets it’s known for.
In a story that seems destined to get shared in Reddit’s “Not the Onion” subreddit, Ad Age’s Jack Neff reports that “Estée Lauder is turning to a seemingly unlikely way to reach customers for its new Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex—video gaming.”
The brand’s ANRcade site invites you to “Play the games to earn Youth-Generating Power Points,” hilariously enough. The games, as Neff explains, include Serum Quest, which is “a sort of ’80s throwback where the brand’s little brown bottle zaps environmental aggressors and collects golden serum drops, all to the end of helping the serum’s antioxidant protection.”
Wait ... why? “The launch plays on two realities of the pandemic—skincare sales are doing a lot better than color cosmetics and consumers staying at home more are doing a lot more gaming,” Neff explains.
Anyhow, we’re hoping to earn enough Youth-Generating Power Points to arrest, or at least slow, our precipitous decline.
Speaking of gaming: “Amazon rebrands Twitch Prime as Prime Gaming to broaden audience” (VentureBeat).
Dodge ball: “The Civil War Tearing Sports Illustrated Apart” (The Daily Beast).
What’s in your (digital) wallet?: “Facebook kicks off financial unit in another bid to capture digital payments, commerce” (MarketWatch).
And finally ...
“Reese Witherspoon has started what many are describing as the most accurate meme challenge of the dystopian mess that is 2020,” Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing writes. “Last week, the actress kicked off the #2020Challenge, a selfie collage that demonstrates the deteriorating effects of a year wrecked by the pandemic, racial injustice, a tanking economy and political strife”—and since then a bunch of brands have joined the memewagon.
See contributions from Budweiser, Netflix, Dell and more in “The 17 best brand responses so far to Reese Witherspoon's 2020 meme challenge.”
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