Episode 342
March 8, 2024

The Addiction Economy

MrBeast has some recent learnings in trademark legalities and how hard DTC chocolate can be, and McDonalds is not answering back Phillip’s question. Plus, was the Super Bowl really the most-watched human event or do we just have too many ways you count who is watching, more people, and more widespread and varying broadcast options? And could a giant sphere be coming to a city near you? Or perhaps even your very own home? So much to talk about, so listen in now!

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MrBeast has some recent learnings in trademark legalities and how hard DTC chocolate can be, and McDonalds is not answering back Phillip’s question. Plus, was the Super Bowl really the most-watched human event or do we just have too many ways you count who is watching, more people, and more widespread and varying broadcast options? And could a giant sphere be coming to a city near you? Or perhaps even your very own home? So much to talk about, so listen in now!

“The McRib and Shamrock Shake Loophole”

Key takeaways:

- McDonald's continues to activate its brand through innovative partnerships, this time with popular anime studio Studio Pierrot.

- Mr Beast faced a trademark violation for using the term "Deez Nuts" on his chocolate packaging, leading to a rebrand.

- Las Vegas transformed its identity by shifting away from vices through family-friendly experiences, emphasizing business conferences instead.

- Companies may need to constantly reinvent themselves as competitors catch up or as markets change.

- There is a growing demand for immersive experiences like the Sphere, which could revolutionize entertainment venues and advertising formats. Rather than making the world obsolete, tech has created an opportunity for historical modalities to rise from obsolescence.

  • {00:17:17} - “The algorithm thrives on the type of content that produces dopamine hits because it's stuff that people keep coming back to. So we are in the dopamine economy. That's where we live, the addiction economy.” - Brian
  • {00:33:56} - “Live events are on the rise. The Golden Globes, the Grammys, and the Oscars have all posted not just double-digit, but insane growth multiples year over year since the pandemic. And so when you look at these live events, these are elements of the monoculture, the things we've been saying are dead for the last 10 years. However, they have also become hyper-cultural events where people sort of multiplayer mode their way into participating in the discourse.” - Phillip
  • {00:39:24} - “Whatever you have that used to make you unique will eventually be competed away. You have to continue to reinvent yourself.” - Philip
  • {00:43:23} - “You go to a movie theater because you wanna see a movie sooner, not necessarily because it's the experience that you want to consume that particular movie in. Only a few movies are worth that. But movie theaters were basically what the sphere is to us when they first came out. Really immersive experiences you couldn't get anywhere else, because your tiny little TV at home was hard to watch stuff on.” - Brian

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Phillip: [00:00:00] So can we cover the McDonald's thing really quick? So one of their brand creatives, their directors of brand creative, I follow on Twitter, and he's actually really, really brilliant. He did such a great job of teasing recently that he got me to sign up for their texts. And I signed up specifically not to be up on the next drop because that's kind of what he was teasing, but he's like, "You can you can talk to us. Talk to me, the Creative Director. I will answer your questions." And the texts are very Gen Z coded and all lowercase, no punctuation, that sort of thing. And they still have not answered my question, which I will now screenshot so that we can get it in on the YouTube version of the feed here. My question...

Brian: [00:00:50] You should @ them. @ them on Twitter.

Phillip: [00:00:51] I guess it really wasn't a question. It was "Release the McRib and the Shamrock shake at the same time, you cowards."

Brian: [00:01:00] {laughter} No wonder they haven't responded.

Phillip: [00:01:08] {laughter} You asked me to text you. I demand that McDonald's answers me now.

Brian: [00:02:20] Oh my gosh.

Phillip: [00:02:20] Hello, and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast at the intersection of culture and commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:02:26] And I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:02:28] You're Brian. Freshly cut, Brian. Brian, you're looking good.

Brian: [00:02:31] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:02:32] You got your haircut per quarter.

Brian: [00:02:35] Between meetings. Quarter, quarterly, maybe. Between...

Phillip: [00:02:42] You had a burly quarter, and now you've got a Burlycore going on.

Brian: [00:02:46] Burlycore, yeah. If well, once I get my beard done, I think I'll be out of the Burlycore phase.

Phillip: [00:02:54] That's great.

Brian: [00:02:55] I didn't have time to trim the beard between meetings.

Phillip: [00:03:00] For the listener's context, I get off a call with Brian. I've been on the phone with Brian, like, all day long.

Brian: [00:03:04] It's true.

Phillip: [00:03:05] We have, like, a 1 hour gap. I have barely enough time to make yogurt. I made a bowl of yogurt.

Brian: [00:03:11] You made yogurt?

Phillip: [00:03:14] Well, I put yogurt into a bowl with various mix-ins.

Brian: [00:03:19] Oh. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:03:19] And then I sat and I ate it, and I logged it into MyFitnessPal. And in the time that it take to do that literal scant few things, you have returned completely beautifully manicured and coiffed, freshly coiffed.

Brian: [00:03:35] I've still got my Pendleton on. Pendleton sweater.

Phillip: [00:03:39] Before we get into the rest of the show today, I think we're gonna cover a bunch of stuff, by the way. Stick around. We're gonna hit on a little bit of the McDonald's train and how McDonald's continues to find new ways to activate its brand through partnerships. We're also probably gonna hit on a little bit of, I wanna touch on the Yeezy ugly ad at the Super Bowl.

Brian: [00:04:00] Yeah. That's a good idea. That's a fun one.

Phillip: [00:04:02] And also before we get any deeper too, I wanna make sure that we have a second to talk a little bit about Mr Beast. And so I think all of that's your culture and commerce digest for today's episode.

Brian: [00:04:17] This is gonna be a good chat. Mr Beast, he's going beast mode.

Phillip: [00:04:23] I could talk about Mr Beast just for an hour.

Brian: [00:04:26] But let's start with eCommerce's letter to Mr Beast that you wrote on behalf of eCommerce.

Phillip: [00:04:35] That was on Valentine's Day too, by the way.

Brian: [00:04:38] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:04:40] Let's set up the story, in sort of a, let's give it the justice that it is due. Speaking of justice, so Mr Beast received a cease and desist, that I think resulted in a formal lawsuit because of his violation of a trademark term. Brian, what is the trademark term? Do you know?

Brian: [00:05:01] No. I don't know what it is. What was it?

Phillip: [00:05:05] You know what it is. Just say it.

Brian: [00:05:07] I don't. I don't know what it is.

Phillip: [00:05:10] Are you sure?

Brian: [00:05:11] I don't know.

Phillip: [00:05:12] Okay.

Brian: [00:05:14] I'm tired of you taking things out of context for me.

Phillip: [00:05:18] {laughter}

Brian: [00:05:18] You guys don't know. If you're listening to this, I'm so tired. Phillip has been clipping every episode now. He just clips me saying something out of context and does a little out of context snippet to the rest of the team or maybe directly to me.

Phillip: [00:05:37] I don't send it to anyone but you and Chris. My favorite recently was the phrase "spurt and go back into the woods." And literally just that.

Brian: [00:05:51] I am literally, apparently, just Charles from the Brooklyn 99. It's bad. It's bad news.

Phillip: [00:05:59] You say things you don't even know what you're saying, Brian.

Brian: [00:06:01] I don't even know what I'm saying.

Phillip: [00:06:03] So, what happened was Mr Beast violated the trademark of Deez Nuts. And, so for those not familiar, he has a chocolate brand because he wants to be Walt Disney and Willy Wonka all rolled into one sort of late capitalist cluster f. We're keeping it family friendly for the the show here. You can tell probably by my tone how much I care for Mr Beast and, his attention harvesting and dopamine hijacking of our nation's youth, and then tricking them into eating burgers and chocolate, but I digress.

Brian: [00:06:38] It's honestly it it truly is, it is late stage capitalism at its finest.

Phillip: [00:06:45] Oh, for sure.

Brian: [00:06:46] Have you watched his most recent thing on his website?

Phillip: [00:06:51] I do everything I can to not watch anything he makes.

Brian: [00:06:55] Same. Same thing. Same. No. But after everything went down with the lawsuit and your letter and everything, I was like, man, I haven't really watched anything by Mr Beast in a while. Really. I haven't. And so I was like, I should probably go poke around and just see what he's been up to lately. And I watched one of his videos in full, and I was like, this is everything that I hate.

Phillip: [00:07:20] It's such a yeah. This is a total boomer take. I understand. We're out of step with culture. It is very fashionable to praise Mr Beast for everything. He's gonna be successful at everything he does, and he has a lot of...

Brian: [00:07:32] He's going to be president.

Phillip: [00:07:34] That's what a lot of people are saying. Like, what? I'm sorry.

Brian: [00:07:40] Okay. Jimmy Donaldson.

Phillip: [00:07:41] I'll calm down.

Brian: [00:07:42] Jimmy for president. You know, it's actually...

Phillip: [00:07:48] You're gonna, like, absolutely I'm gonna flip out here in about 2 seconds.

Brian: [00:07:52] There was a band that was actually prophetic. It wasn't software eating the world. It was Jimmy Eat World.

Phillip: [00:07:58] Yeah. Yeah. Jimmy Eat Deez Nuts.

Brian: [00:08:02] Oh.

Phillip: [00:08:02] So Deez Nuts was a nut butter and alternative sort of, like, peanut butter nut butter company based out of Jacksonville, Florida. Florida represent. Florida. Hey, contributing something positive to the culture for once. And they sued Mr Beast for violation of their trademark because he used the word Deez Nuts on his packaging for his Feastables peanut butter flavor chocolate. And so this created a whole opportunity for a campaign. So what he redid was, he recently relaunched the chocolate, with a new brand, and sort of reoriented the brand, as a best chocolate in the world. The world's best chocolate. That's how he's come back out. What he was doing before was "We're better than Hershey's," and very cleverly, he has decided not to go after the company that continues to outsell him all day every day in every single... His whole thing was, oh, it's not hard to be better than Hershey's. Isn't everything in the world better than Hershey's? And I'll tell you, it's probably the only thing we could possibly ever agree on, me and Jimmy Donaldson.

Brian: [00:09:14] You're a Hershey's hater.

Phillip: [00:09:16] I don't like Hershey's chocolate. In s'mores, it's the standard.

Brian: [00:09:22] It is the standard, but, honestly, it maybe shouldn't be.

Phillip: [00:09:27] It's fine. Just to round off the story, they relaunched the brand. What has ensued since is, you know, this viral campaign that he's trying to orchestrate around being the world's best chocolate. They did a double blind test, which was basically asking people in a Pepsi challenge sort of way, which of these chocolates did you prefer? And, of course, you know, magically, it's always the Feastables chocolate. That's the one they prefer based on taste. The thing is, it didn't work out so great for Pepsi. The Pepsi challenge didn't make Pepsi number 1. It's also, in fact, Pepsi is kind of the butt of a joke. Pepsi... Jimmy, let me give you some advice. Pepsi is the Nickelback of sodas.

Brian: [00:10:17] It really is. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:10:20] And that's where I feel like now the Pepsi Corporation and all of its brand equity and all the things that it has, when you go head to head with Coca Cola, you're gonna lose, no matter what people think about when they're blindfolded. This campaign, you know, has also resulted in him going into stores and marching into the back stock rooms trying to find the stock of Feastables to make sure that they're fronted up on the shelves. He claims to have gone to 15 different Targets and Walmarts making sure that they're restocked. And you gotta admire the social media hustle, although I really wonder if Jimmy is driving around all of North Carolina restocking shelves.

Brian: [00:11:05] Neil Hunter's level retail shaming is what's going on.

Phillip: [00:11:11] It is. Yeah.

Brian: [00:11:12] Going in, taking pictures of empty shelves, videoing how messed up the planogram is. That's what's actually happening, really.

Phillip: [00:11:23] Yeah

Brian: [00:11:24] He's super nerdy is what's going on right now.

Phillip: [00:11:27] This is the most retail nerd you can get on a mass cultural level. And in that way, I say, respect. Game recognize game, Jimmy. I do have a video that I took just a few days before the official relaunch of the brand. I found the new Feastables chocolate brand in the wild before it was actually out in the wild, before it was announced. And that is what spurred me to write this love letter, or this sort of lament the breakup letter from eCommerce to Jimmy. So in coordination with this launch, I found this chocolate at a Target. It was sitting right next to four empty boxes of other chocolate brands. The Feastables brand, not a single bar had been touched. I took a video, maybe we'll put it up on the YouTube channel, cut it in here. But essentially, with the rebrand launch, it also coincided with they stopped transacting online. So they've now taken down their Shopify transaction capability. They've turned off eCommerce on their site, but they're still running Mr Beast on the Shopify ads, and they're still running the store on Shopify, and they still have all the integrations in there. So no word yet as to whether they ever will relaunch, but now all the buy buttons have been changed to find a store.

Brian: [00:12:57] Do you know why? DTC is hard. DTC is hard.

Phillip: [00:13:00] DTC chocolate.

Brian: [00:13:03] Seems impossible. Yes. Exactly. You might buy chocolate online from a specialty retailer that's got really hard to get chocolate that you can't buy anywhere else because you can't find it at the grocery store, and going to a specialty chocolate store is hard to get to. So specialty online retail chocolate makes sense, but direct to consumer chocolate, it's gonna melt on the way. No one buys grocery store chocolate online anyway. It's a challenge.

Phillip: [00:14:35] A 1,000 think pieces were silenced when he turned off eCommerce. And all the same people that were just applauding him furiously when he launched it to begin with are all like, "This makes so much sense. Who buys chocolate through the mail?" {laughter}

Brian: [00:14:56] I have bought chocolate through the mail, just not grocery store chocolate through the mail.

Phillip: [00:15:02] Yeah. Well, that's that story. I do think it's a little bit of a bellwether around this idea of this talk, this keynote that I'm giving tomorrow at the triple E conference.

Brian: [00:15:13] I can't wait to see this. I can't wait to watch that. I'm not gonna be there, but I will watch the recording afterwards.

Phillip: [00:15:20] It's a great hook for a talk. You know all this stuff because it's all...

Brian: [00:15:25] I read through all your slides. It's all the stuff. It's all the good stuff.

Phillip: [00:15:29] It's all the good stuff. It's like greatest hits. But the crux of this conversation is the story that we originally published around the launch of Google Suggest and the algorithm that powered Google Suggest in 2008. So Google engineer named Kevin Gibbs launched this Google Labs experiment. And for I think 48 hours, if you typed "what are" into the Google search box, it would auto complete "What are these strawberries doing on my nipples? I need them for the fruit salad." So I have a whole talk about that. And it's like how did we get there? Well, the way we got there was the ranking factors that led to that particular autocomplete was notable people, like celebrities. Published authors and published works and items for sale online. So when you look at that intersection of all of those things, there was a particular book published by an author, a sex advice columnist, a woman named Vanessa Feltz, who was also a broadcaster on the BBC, and her book was for sale on Amazon. And so it makes total sense to the algorithm that that is what you're trying to look for, when those things are your ranking criteria. And that is kind of almost universally true for everything right now is the algorithm looks for those same types of ranking criteria right now in the world to serve you content, and that is how people like Mr Beast are finding  more and more relevance in the culture. Take away the algorithm, and he doesn't amount to very much at all, I think.

Brian: [00:17:15] Yes. Yeah. No. I agree. I agree. And  [00:17:17]the algorithm thrives on the type of content that produces dopamine hits because it's stuff that people keep coming back to. So we are in the dopamine economy. That's where we live, the addiction economy. [00:17:38] And I was reading an article, and I talked a little about this in the After Dark, and I still need to go back and source it. It'll be in The Senses. Go read The Senses. Sign up. FutureCommerce.fm. Or .com. Whoa.

Phillip: [00:17:50] Where did that come from? {laughter}

Brian: [00:17:52] Woah. It's been a year. It's been a year now since that migration. FutureCommerce.com/Subscribe

Phillip: [00:17:57] Dot com, Brian. {laughter}

Brian: [00:17:58] Jeez. We live in an addiction economy is really what it comes down to. And if you look across the board at different categories, they're all trending towards content that is leading towards addiction. So sports just made that move. The Super Bowl, which I do wanna get into a little bit, but the Super Bowl ads this year have a good, probably the majority, the largest share of ad time was for sports betting.

Phillip: [00:18:39] Sports betting. Yeah.

Brian: [00:18:40] Never been like that ever. This is the 1st year that we've seen...

Phillip: [00:18:44] Well, you could say the crypto advertising boom was a very similar thing dressed up differently.

Brian: [00:18:52] Yes. Totally. Dressed up differently. But this was never so blatant and never for specifically sports. So all industries are trending towards repetitive action that's predictable, AKA addiction.

Phillip: [00:19:11] Yeah. And to unwind that, it requires so much deprogramming. We actually talked about this in the After Dark.

Brian: [00:19:21] Yes. After Dark. Go sign up.

Phillip: [00:19:24] Yeah. Futurecommerce.com/plus. And if you type f m, it's okay. It's okay, Brian. It'll redirect you.

Brian: [00:19:29] It'll work.

Phillip: [00:19:30] It'll work.

Brian: [00:19:31] It's fine. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:19:31] It'll work. I'd really prefer that whoever out there is linking to us doesn't link to dot fm. It's not as authoritative. Okay. So can we cover the McDonald's thing really quick before we shift?

Brian: [00:19:47] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:19:47] I know you kinda had a nice segue there.

Brian: [00:19:50] I know. I segued right over.

Phillip: [00:19:51] It was good, but are you up to date? Tell me the things that you could remember just off the top of your head, Brian, of the things that McDonald's has done in the last few years that were notable.

Brian: [00:20:06] Grimace. No question. Grimace is the big one. The Grimace meal, Grimace shake, easily the largest thing that they've done from a social standpoint. Now that's not a collab, I guess. That is a resurrected nostalgic campaign that took on a life of its own, kind of a quantum moment. But the collabs that have been done recently, well, they did a K-pop collab that was really big, which who did they work with again?

Phillip: [00:20:44] It was BTS.

Brian: [00:20:45] Yes. That's right. That's right.

Phillip: [00:20:46] BTS.

Brian: [00:20:47] BTS. That's right. And then, they did...

Phillip: [00:20:51] Cactus Jack collab with with Travis Scott that kind of kicked off everything.

Brian: [00:20:56] It did. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:20:57] Because there was a whole merch shop that was tied to that. They've done a couple entertainment ones here or there, but also very notable they've done some kind of outlandish things, and I think that what's really striking is that they have a media calendar now.

Brian: [00:21:18] Yeah. They're a media company.

Phillip: [00:21:18] Every 60 to 90 days. Every 60 to 90 days there's gonna be something. And they are now trying to break out of specific channels. So one of their brand creatives, their directors of brand creative, I follow on Twitter, and he's actually really, really brilliant. He's done some really great, stuff. His name is Guillaume Huin. He likes to tease some of the work that they put out and nobody could argue that this is, you know, bar none some of the greatest brand activation in the entire world. But somehow, he did such a great job of teasing recently that he got me to sign up for their texts. And I signed up specifically not to be up on the next drop because that's kind of what he was teasing, but he's, like, "You can you can talk to us. Talk to me, the Creative Director. I will answer your questions." And the the texts are very Gen Z coded and all lowercase, no punctuation, that sort of thing. And they still have not answered my question, which I will now screenshot so that we can get it in on the YouTube version of the feed here.

Brian: [00:22:36] You should @ them. @ them on Twitter.

Phillip: [00:22:37] It really wasn't a question. It was "Release the McRib and the Shamrock shake at the same time, you cowards."

Brian: [00:22:46] {laughter} No wonder they haven't responded.

Phillip: [00:22:54] {laughter} You asked me to text you.

Brian: [00:22:55] You know what will happen though is people will just, if they do that, they'll just explode. If they order the McRib and the Shamrock shake, and they have them both at the same time, they're just going to spontaneously combust. I guess not spontaneously. They'll just combust. If you put Shamrock + McRib together in the microwave, your microwave explodes.

Phillip: [00:23:17] There was a running joke in the eighties or nineties. There was a stand up comedian, who I've looked for the comedy set because I remember it being really funny. Of course, I was, like, 16 or I don't know. In the nineties, I was...

Brian: [00:23:32] It was probably super funny to you back then.

Phillip: [00:23:34] It was so funny when I was, like, 10, 11, 12, or something like that. But it was like the hypothetical, what's your death row meal? What's your final meal on death row? And he says, "The McRib and the Shamrock shake" because they never come out at the same time.

Brian: [00:23:57] It's good.

Phillip: [00:23:57] A loophole. You live forever. {laughter} I demand that McDonald's answers me now. But what they've done today is sort of a fulfillment of a thing we've been talking about for a little while, which I don't think is all that, to be honest with you. You can't say that we predicted something because it feels like we've been on this train for a little while, but they are now partnering with a very prolific anime studio, Studio Pierrot. And it was the creator of Naruto and a bunch of other beloved anime characters and media properties. So what they're doing is a timed activation where McDonald's becomes a WcDonald's, and that is an homage to the name used for decades in mangas and anime that refers to McDonald's. So basically they're going with it. They're just going with this thing that has always been used. Remember McDowell's in Coming to America?

Brian: [00:25:13] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:14] They're basically creating the opportunity for this parody to become real life. I think it's a really clever way for them to backdoor owning the trademark on something like that.

Brian: [00:25:25] It's hyperstition. Hyperstition, a little bit.

Phillip: [00:25:29] It's Multiplayer Brand.

Brian: [00:25:29] Yeah. Totally.

Phillip: [00:25:30] It's Multiplayer Brand.

Brian: [00:25:31] Yeah, I feel like people can remix this. They'll have a little bit of fun with it too. John WcDeez. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:25:40] John WcDeez Nuts. Let's violate all the trademarks all at one time.

Brian: [00:25:46] We can say things, right, without getting sued. We can just say them. We just can't...

Phillip: [00:25:50] I don't know. I just feel like there's something called libel that you have to worry about these days.

Brian: [00:25:54] True. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:25:55] What is really interesting about this was watching this unfold. So I got the text message on the text that I signed up for that they don't respond to. And they basically teased that something was coming out, and so what they dropped was just a link to a YouTube. And it was one of those instant premiere releases on YouTube where there's a timed countdown that starts at, I don't know, 30 minutes or something. So they sort of set it as an instant premiere ahead of time. And there was about at the height while I was in the waiting room waiting for this video to come out, Brian, there were almost 700 people all waiting to see what this is. So 700 people took time out of their day to sit and wait to see what this video was going to be.

Brian: [00:26:48] There are McDonald's superfans out there for sure. Like, 700 is actually...

Phillip: [00:26:54] Small...

Brian: [00:26:54] It's a lot. It's a lot. It's a lot to be on this, but also in the in the vast swaths of McDonald's super fans out there, 700 is kind of what I would hope it would be, I guess. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:27:10] It's a number. It doesn't matter what it is. Yeah. How many people, you know, queue to watch a video release about the next culturally impacting drop from McDonald's? So they did, you know, basically, I don't know if you saw their Loki campaign.

Brian: [00:27:27] Oh yeah.

Phillip: [00:27:27] But it was very similar to the Loki campaign where they cut in a bunch of anime clips of McDonald's and all of these various versions of manga and anime. And they didn't even say what was coming or what the partnership was. It was a 22nd video and then the room, all of the hype that had built up in that room descended into chaos with people angry, "I waited for this?" "I got up early for this?" And then people were frustrated and mad. And, of course, that's all subsided since now they've officially come out to say what it is, but they let the tease just tease to the point that some people were frustrated.

Brian: [00:28:13] Yeah. Tease too much, and you get some frustrated...

Phillip: [00:28:20] Okay. Cool. We are moving right along. It's been a really fun episode. I do wanna come back to the Super Bowl. Did you watch the Super Bowl?

Brian: [00:29:42] Dude, I'm a pretty big NFL fan.

Phillip: [00:29:46] You're a Seahawks guy.

Brian: [00:29:48] Yeah. I am. I'm a big Seahawks guy. Obviously, I was rooting against the 49ers pretty heavily, being in the same division as them and all. But, I'm also kind of a Chiefs fan considering I lived in Missouri for three and a half years.

Phillip: [00:30:02] That's right.

Brian: [00:30:03] And, you know, what's interesting about Missouri is they've had the Rams forever. I'm not surprised the Rams left because everyone in Missouri hated the Rams. They all love the Chiefs. They hated the Rams. They were ambivalent about them maybe. But everyone, even people in St. Louis, were Chiefs fans.

Phillip: [00:30:22] Yeah. Wild.

Brian: [00:30:25] And, yeah, Kansas City, Missouri, by the way, not Kansas City, Kansas. It's a split city. It's interesting. So I was rooting for the Chiefs, and I'm happy they won. Obviously, there's some pretty fun stuff that came out of that game. Culturally relevant for sure. Most watched Super Bowl ever. Is that right? I believe so.

Phillip: [00:30:54] Most watched human event ever.

Brian: [00:30:58] Oh, yeah. That's right. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:31:00] So it even... Ready? It eclipsed the moon landing. See what it did there? Wow. That's where we are after 500 episodes. Which is really sad, but also kind of impressive. But we have another moon landing. We have two more years. Got a couple more.

Brian: [00:31:27] Well, yeah. We also have more people than we did when we landed on the moon. In America. And, also, the NFL has a more worldwide audience than it did in the 60s. Yeah. I guess. Also, we're better at tracking things than we were in the 60s as well.

Phillip: [00:31:43] They also are double dipping, I would argue, because they simulcast on so many different, in so many formats. I wrote a piece for Future Commerce about the thing I'm calling the hyperculture, which is taking these monocultural affairs and reexpressing them for new audiences. In this case, it was rebroadcasting or actually simulcasting not for children, even though it was on Nickelodeon, I would argue it was not for children. It was actually for millennials for the nostalgia bait.

Brian: [00:32:20] Oh, yeah. 100%.

Phillip: [00:32:22] They simulcasted the Super Bowl on Nickelodeon for the first time and, you know, did a lot of really interesting tech to kind of make that happen, but that wasn't the first time that they did that this year. They also did a Toy Story Super Bowl, or a Toy Story simulcast of a Jacksonville Jaguars game earlier in the season back in October, and that had a ton of tech that powered that too. So they were kinda building up to this, but I have to believe people flopped between the two. Right? Like, they didn't just watch the Nickelodeon broadcast. They flip flopped.

Brian: [00:32:52] Exactly. You nailed it. So how many times did they flip flop back and forth, and how many times was that counted?

Phillip: [00:32:59] As many times as necessary to sell the next round of advertising.

Brian: [00:33:04] Exactly. Also, think about this. There are so many more individual devices than there were before. People might be at a Super Bowl party, but also have it up on their phone on a different stream. Each kid and adult and so on out there probably had some connection point to the cast in some way and also had it on their big screen TV, at whatever party they were at. Also, people aren't getting together as much as they used to in the past, and so you have more individual households watching things than in the past where you'd have a big group all gathered around a single screen, and that was only considered to be one watch.

Phillip: [00:33:53] This is a trend, though. This is a trend. So [00:33:56] live events are on the rise. The Golden Globes, the Grammys, and the Oscars have all posted not just double digit, but insane growth multiples year over year since the pandemic. And so when you look at these live events, these are elements of the monoculture, the things we've been saying are dead for the last 10 years. However, they have also become these hyper-cultural events where people sort of multiplayer mode their way into participating in the discourse. [00:34:31] For instance, people say the monoculture doesn't exist anymore. Everyone remembers Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.

Brian: [00:34:38] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:34:38] So whether you were there and witnessed it live or not, we are time shifting the monoculture around in memes to make it relevant for the moment and to keep that moment alive until the next monocultural moment. I would argue that the monoculture exists on a broader scale and in a more multifaceted and nuanced way today than it ever has.

Brian: [00:34:59] Well, that's sort of what Kyle Chayka was saying on our podcast as well, and sort of his point. The monoculture is everything. It's in fact, we're in a more monocultural moment than we ever have been because all subcultures are sort of encapsulated in the monoculture. Everything's sort of saying the same things, and it's being passed around in different ways than it was before. Although I think we could definitely say, in some ways, the NFL plus Taylor Swift are the two largest bastions of monoculture that exist within America.

Phillip: [00:35:39] Well, sports being this really interesting, insight. I found, I've been listening to this podcast that I love, and I don't know if it's for anyone else, but I am really jamming on it mostly because I don't understand the media business very much. And being that you and I are now in a media... We started a media business. We should probably understand the media business. There's this new podcast from Brian Morrissey who was the former editor and chief over at Digiday. It's called People versus Algorithms, which on the face of it, I thought the content would be very different because the title is really catchy. It is not the... I thought it would be Filterworld, the podcast, but it is not that.

Brian: [00:36:19] It's a deep dive into media, which it's very good. It's quite good.

Phillip: [00:36:24] It's extremely good.

Brian: [00:36:25] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:36:25] It's more like Old Man Yells at Cloud, the podcast. {laughter}

Brian: [00:36:32] I think that's what a lot of people said about us as well.

Phillip: [00:36:35] Oh, sure. I'm sure. I don't actually care what people say about us as long as they're talking about us, to be honest with you. I really at this point, I just don't care.

Brian: [00:36:47] Problem is that we don't say anything inflammatory. Actually, we do, but...

Phillip: [00:36:51] Yeah.

Brian: [00:36:52] Rarely.

Phillip: [00:36:53] The problem is that the old man podcast thing has to find a new home on youtube.com/futurecommercemedia. So I've been listening to this podcast, and you and I had this conversation about some of the content that took place in that podcast. But one thing they recently talked about was how Las Vegas is probably the greatest example of reinvention and future proofing that exists in the modern era. When you think about future proofing a corporation, companies like Facebook have had to reinvent themselves a couple of times over as devices and as customer expectations and our relationship to media has changed. So in the social media era, you logged on while you were at work on your desktop, and then we had mobile devices, and you had to make the shift to mobile, And then they had to make the shift to visual media, through Instagram, and then to messaging with WhatsApp. All these things could have been existential risks to Facebook as a media business. So then they equated that to Las Vegas is the physical manifestation of that because they saw an existential risk where, well, all of these vices are becoming pervasive in the culture that you can get anywhere. Right? Pornography is pretty much everywhere, although I think some laws are taking care of that in a number of states at the moment. Weed is being legalized all over the place. Right?

Brian: [00:38:35] Right.

Phillip: [00:38:36] So you have all of these vices that are becoming much more acceptable in the culture. You no longer have to go somewhere to go get access to some of those. So they future proofed themselves about 15, 20 years ago, and they moved away from the What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, and they moved to We're Family-Friendly. We're courting conferences. It's a place for business people. You can get some of those things still there. Right? But the move to professional sports in an era where anyone can do sports betting is unbelievable and F1 being another great example is, like, we're gonna keep you coming back to Las Vegas because the things that you used to come here for are now available everywhere. There's a brand lesson in that somewhere.  [00:39:24]Whatever you have that used to make you unique will eventually be competed away. You have to continue to reinvent yourself. [00:39:32] It's amazing, actually.

Brian: [00:39:33] Yeah. I think that's very true. After things get copied or technology enables people to do the same thing that you do, you might have to release a new version of whatever it is that you're doing, something else special. The innovation cycle can never stop, and sometimes that means updating something that you have so that it has additional new options or features, but sometimes that means releasing something completely different or a completely different message. Taking the thing you had and recontextualizing it in a completely different way. It's a really good point. And I feel like that's true. I think it's dead on for Vegas, and it's now the business conference center of the world. That's really all that Vegas does now. You don't go to Vegas to have fun as a vacation. You go to Vegas to go to your business thing that's also got some fun alongside it.

Phillip: [00:40:42] But it's also now the place where you can go to see the U2 residency at the Sphere. You can check out Dead and Co at the Sphere. The reinvention of media and also live entertainment formats. Do you think that that's gonna be the last sphere built in the world? These things are gonna be everywhere.

Brian: [00:41:00] Yeah. I think you're right.

Phillip: [00:41:02] On all kinds of scales.

Brian: [00:41:04] The Colosseum, you know, it's, yeah, at different levels. No. It's a good point. When someday, when aliens come and review our culture, everything's gonna be all, you know, destroyed and sort of decrepit. They're gonna look at the spheres and be like, "Oh, they had these big screens, and they would have these immersive experiences." It's gonna be all over the place. Different cities are gonna be esteemed because of the size of their sphere.

Phillip: [00:41:41] {laughters} Yeah. There's a big balls joke in there somewhere.

Brian: [00:41:46] Yeah. I thought that.

Phillip: [00:41:49] The city is known for its very large...

Brian: [00:41:51] Does it have two spheres or one?

Phillip: [00:41:53] It's got a lot of spheres, that city. This is an interesting rumor, and I'll say it so that we can cite it later because we are called Future Commerce. But I was having a conversation with somebody who works in entertainment, and they were telling me that right now, there are a number of entertainment companies and specifically those that are the type where you maybe sail away into an exciting adventure, if you will. And those companies are looking at things like the sphere, and they're saying we want those.

Brian: [00:42:38] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:42:38] So there's this massive demand for, okay, can we do these immersive experiences not just in Las Vegas

Brian: [00:42:49] Yep.

Phillip: [00:42:49] As a big add, which shows off one really interesting use case, but there are numerous use cases for the types of internal experiences, not external displays or aesthetics of, hey, the internal experience of having this immersive wraparound display and hidden speakers and all wraparound sound and that experiential thing, I think, is gonna be used and abused to death, and we're gonna see 30 different versions of that over the next decade.

Brian: [00:43:19] Yeah. Because there's no reason like, movie theaters are dying. [00:43:23] You go to a movie theater because you wanna see a movie sooner, not necessarily because it's the experience that you want to consume that particular movie in. Only a few movies are worth that. But when movie theaters first came out, they were basically what the sphere is to us. Really immersive experiences you couldn't get anywhere else, because your tiny little TV at home was hard to watch stuff on. [00:43:57]

Phillip: [00:43:59] Imagine having an Apple Vision Pro for 15,000 people because that's what the Sphere is. You know, people are saying, and this is an interesting thought. I haven't heard anyone say this, Brian. The same 360 media that you need to produce for VR is the same 360 media that you use inside of the sphere.

Brian: [00:44:24] Interesting.

Phillip: [00:44:25] That is a shared concept.

Brian: [00:44:27] Yeah. That is. This has got my brain turning.

Phillip: [00:44:31] I need a home Sphere, like, right now. {laughter}

Brian: [00:44:33] Yeah. HomeSphere. Just throw it in. Yeah. That's what's gonna happen next. There's not home movie theater, because everyone has that now.

Phillip: [00:44:42] Home Moviespherater. {laughter}

Brian: [00:44:44] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:44:49] This is what happens when we record two podcasts space of 8 hours or 10 hours.

Brian: [00:44:54] It's true. We already... Yeah.

Phillip: [00:44:57] We ran out of all the good ideas in the After Dark. We're now just in pun territory.

Brian: [00:45:04] Double entendres. That as well.

Phillip: [00:45:07] But just imagine the content pipeline that's needed to create VR media, it needs repurposability.

Brian: [00:45:16] And we need new billboard space too. This is another thing.

Phillip: [00:45:20] We need it so bad.

Brian: [00:45:21] We need it so bad. All the billboard space that we have is not effective anymore, and nothing's getting anyone's attention.

Phillip: [00:45:31] Yeah. It's not novel.

Brian: [00:45:32] Yeah. Instagram ads aren't working anymore. We need a new way of showing people products, and the Sphere is a great way to do it. Apple VisionPro is a good way to do it. We need ways to show off what we're doing that people are paying attention to when there are just not many places left. So if you can create a spectacle, you're gonna get all the advertising dollars. You know what we didn't get to was the Super Bowl commercials.

Phillip: [00:46:01] Kanye

Brian: [00:46:01] And Kanye. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:46:02] The uncancellation of Kanye's ugly ad.

Brian: [00:46:06] The uncancellation guy. I don't know if Kanye in general has been uncanceled yet.

Phillip: [00:46:13] Oh, no. No. By no means. By no means.

Brian: [00:46:15] But his ad was uncanceled. I think you're right about that. It was initially heavily criticized, and then people were like, "Wait a minute. This is genius." It wasn't even a national commercial and he got all this exposure. We spent all the money on this ad spot, so we didn't spend any money on the ad. Come by our stuff. It's interesting. The lo fi experience is something that people are always interested in, I think.

Phillip: [00:46:45] Mhmm.

Brian: [00:46:46] There's always something compelling about lo fi stuff that gets a large audience.

Phillip: [00:46:54] And you could take the format of his ad, and you look at that and you say, it's the TikTok aesthetic. It is the thing that you see all day every day in short form vertical video. I know that other companies and other brands have attempted to do things like this. No one has done it as crappy as Kanye did, which made it feel very authentic.

Brian: [00:47:23] Right. Totally. Totally. The problem is the companies that have done it in the past have paid big budget.

Phillip: [00:47:32] Big ad agencies to produce it. Right?

Brian: [00:47:34] Exactly. And they're not gonna like, when you're producing something like that, if you don't come back with something that feels polished, you're never gonna get it passed anyone.

Phillip: [00:47:44] Sure. Where'd the money go? Right. Right. We need to compete with Temu. Temu.

Brian: [00:47:51] Temu.

Phillip: [00:47:52] Temu.

Brian: [00:47:53] Temu. Temu.

Phillip: [00:47:55] Temu. Yeah.

Brian: [00:47:56] My kids wanted to watch the commercials because I'm like, "Hey, guys. This is like the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl of commercials as well." And so we watched most of them, but they saw that one come on, like, "Dad, mute this." {laughter}

Phillip: [00:48:11] It's a bop, actually. {singing} Oh. Oh, oh, Temu. Oh, oh... I wanna mash that up with {singing} Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy.

Brian: [00:48:20] It was almost mashed up during the Super Bowl. Temu played their little ditty, like, 200 times, and I'm sure it was next to the Kennedy. I bet you that someone had a streaming device that was a little delayed, and they ended up playing both of them at the same time.

Phillip: [00:48:46] I love that. I love that. We'll leave it here. I do wanna say one thing. I was gonna bring this up in the After Dark, and I don't I have no clue why I'm even bringing this up, but if you've been listening for the last 46 minutes, it's been like an action packed 46 minutes. Holy crap. If you've been listening this far, then I think you would understand and/or jam with me on this. Look what I found on a run the other day. This is wild. Do you know what these are?

Brian: [00:49:15] Yeah. Yeah. I do know what those are. Those are videotape, for a little video...

Phillip: [00:49:22] This is a cassette. This is actually an audio cassette tape.

Brian: [00:49:24] Oh, it's audio cassette. Dude.

Phillip: [00:49:27] So for those not watching on on the YouTube, not watching on the YouTube, these are Tdk D90 High Output trademark... High Output Dynamic Performance tapes. These are wrapped. They're sealed. It's like sealed product.

Brian: [00:49:46] Is there like a copyright date, publish date on those? How old are those?

Phillip: [00:49:53] Yeah. I don't know. It doesn't say on here. I'm looking for...

Brian: [00:49:57] You found them on your run? Were they just lying on the side of the road?

Phillip: [00:50:00] Laying on the side of the road. Some poor guy who makes mix tapes and sells them out of the back of his car is probably looking for them. I don't know. But I don't see a copyright date on it. I'll keep looking.

Brian: [00:50:10] If you can find the guy selling mix tapes out of the back of his car. Let me know because those guys are hard to find these days.

Phillip: [00:50:18] {laughter} They are hard to find. I can't believe that I found it. I'm really amped, and I kinda wanna do something with it, but I don't know what to do.

Brian: [00:50:28] Do you have a tape player?

Phillip: [00:50:30] I've got a bunch of tape player. Oh, yeah.

Brian: [00:50:31] Oh, you do? Okay.

Phillip: [00:50:32] I got a multitrack tape player around here. I've got a little...

Brian: [00:50:35] I only have one tape player. It's in my truck.

Phillip: [00:50:40] Oh, is it? Oh, it's not a recorder. So you can't record stuff again.

Brian: [00:50:43] I can't record. It just plays.

Phillip: [00:50:44] I'm really pumped to do something with these. I don't know. I don't know why the heck I'm bringing this up on a podcast.

Brian: [00:50:49] We've talked about this forever. We should release Future Commerce as a tape with a Walkman.

Phillip: [00:50:58] Oh I wanted to do that as, like, a seeding, a Visions, a Visions podcast seeding activation. I thought that would be a really fun thing to do.

Brian: [00:51:07] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We should do a few different iterations. We definitely have a Discman as well. I was just talking to somebody about a Discman recently. Someone emailed me. Oh, a friend of the pod.

Phillip: [00:51:18] Did you really say Discman?

Brian: [00:51:18] I did say Discman. Discman?

Phillip: [00:51:21] Yeah. Yeah. You say Discman?

Brian: [00:51:25] I don't know. Discman. Whatever. Walkman.

Phillip: [00:51:27] Do you say Spiderman?

Brian: [00:51:29] Spiderman. Spiderman. Batman? I guess is it, you know I don't know. Disc man.

Phillip: [00:51:39] Yeah. There you go. Yeah. It just sounds right.

Brian: [00:51:42] It does. Disc man.

Phillip: [00:51:47] Alright. We are completely out of good content. That's it. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of podcast. I don't know where to take it from here. You know, what you could do is you could support Future Commerce by giving us a 5 star on Apple Podcasts. We do have an interesting insight to deliver in the next few weeks. You'll see something hit your podcast feed, but it would super help us if you rate us and leave a review of the podcast on Apple Podcasts. But for future proofing sake, you may also wanna subscribe to Future Commerce Plus. Not only will you get Future Commerce content ad free, but you'll get bonus After Dark content. You'll get 15% off print and merch from Future Commerce from our new print shop that just opened online. That's shop.futurecommerce.com. You'll also get access to our private GPT. And if Apple decides to take us down because they don't like the future, they don't like the future. And that's what I'm learning is that Apple is trying to roll their own Patreon, and they are being really shady about the way that they're delivering podcasts algorithmically these days.

Brian: [00:52:53] Yes. Yes.

Phillip: [00:52:54] If you wanna preserve this content coming in, you may wanna support Future Commerce directly, and you can do that with Future Commerce Plus. FutureCommerce.com/Plus. Thank you for listening to this episode of Future Commerce. Hey. Commerce is culture.

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