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The Megalomania of DTC Twitter

PLUS: The rebundling of Amazon
April 22, 2022

If you didn’t know better, you’d think that “creator-led brands” are taking over. 

At least, that’s what Reed Duchscher would have you believe. “Starting to notice that creator-led companies are taking over the GoPuff homepage” reads a tweet posted this week on Reed’s Twitter. In it is a screenshot of Mr. Beast’s chocolate on the homepage of GoPuff, a quick-delivery app gaining popularity in major metro cities.

But I do know better.

Reed’s company, Night Media, is a talent management agency, specifically focusing on those in the “creator economy,” including Jimmy Donaldson, aka “Mr. Beast,” the chocolate’s namesake. As it turns out, GoPuff has an integrated ad solution product. From its homepage: “There’s no better or more effective way to spend digital marketing dollars than right within the digital store itself and we are excited to offer brand partners this opportunity on GoPuff.” 

At the time of this writing, Mr. Beast chocolate does not appear on the GoPuff home screen, in the app, or even on the first page of results for the search term “chocolate”. That space seems to be reserved for the more recognizable brands that do billions in GMV per year. When pressed whether this placement was the product of personalization or performance marketing, Reed did not respond.

Twitter has become a forum for spinmasters to weave a story that is often too good to be true and often lacking context as to why that story brings a benefit to the storyteller. Duchscher and his firm stand to benefit from the idea that “creator-led companies are taking over” because, well, his talent management company would sure like to show that they’re being effective for their clients. 

Maybe it’s my algorithm but this reality distortion field seems to be strongest amongst the DTC segment of Twitter. Luxury DTC low-ABV alcohol in the background of a GQ photoshoot? Manufactured. Your favorite newsletter writer on an evening talk show doing a segment? Paid PR hit. Bolt, a one-click payments company, posing in front of the Nasdaq sign — seemingly to celebrate their launch with Fanatics: “Shout out to Nasdaq for recognizing this moment!” No — shout out to the media buy. Nothing’s real, everything’s paid. The end.

The megalomaniac is consumed with delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence. The small echo chamber of Twitter seems to be afflicted by all three. The real poison punch? When you start to believe your own hype and it achieves escape velocity.  Or as Ian Leslie says it: “when you take what happens inside the echo chamber out to the real world.” There, our ramblings and musings begin to have a real effect on the way that people make decisions; how we invest money, how we build solutions, how we talk to our clients. 

Twitter isn’t the real world. It’s all made up. It’s spin. Instead of taking credit for a supposed movement taking place, let’s give credit to those doing the work to make it happen: the ad agencies, the performance marketers, the affiliate managers, and the channel partners. And maybe the capitalists who write the checks that make it all possible.

— Phillip

“Prime” Real Estate: Merchants using FBA can now feature Amazon’s Buy with Prime button on their own DTC site and fulfill through the eCommerce giant’s network, marking a full-circle moment for the world’s largest retailer. “Buy with Prime” is one-click for the third generation of eCommerce.

Editor’s note: One click may have started on Amazon, but it gained popularity through its license to Apple, which used the technology on the iTunes store. Low-risk, high-frequency $0.99 purchases of songs to your library proved to cement the behavior with consumers. Now, Amazon is making the leap to DTC: not in the form of a button, but what the button represents — fast, free, and convenient delivery.

We just recorded a conversation Kris Gösser of Shipium, a partner of Future Commerce, regarding the news coming out of the House that Bezos Built. His point of view: this does more to compete with Shipbob and ShipHero than it does with Bolt or Apple Pay. The one-click facility on a DTC site will likely buoy adoption of eCom overall; but the requirement to fulfill via Amazon (FBA) is more likely to have downstream effects on the tech-assisted fulfillment partners than it does on the payments landscape. 

The interview will publish next week on the main Future Commerce podcast feed. Subscribe here so you don’t miss it.

Throwing Shade: Valentino painted their world pink in their Fall 2022 show in Paris last month. Like Tiffany’s Blue and Supreme’s Red, top fashion brands are teaming up with Pantone to develop ownable shades that can be reinforced on screens, in-store, on packaging, and the product itself. 

More Sights & Sounds.

Rumors say a full-screen iPhone is coming. Amazon has announced changes to its policy on FBA inventory limits. Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams are contributors in bid to acquire Chelsea FC.

More Juice from the Squeeze:Lululemon announced a plan to double their revenue in the next five years. New initiatives like a membership model, footwear, in-home fitness, and a growing segment in menswear pave the way for their climb to a planned $12B sales in 2026. Though the brand notably exceeded Under Armour’s sales in 2021, investors felt like the yoga pants pioneer’s plans were a stretch.

Image courtesy of Manning Valley

Flock Cam: Aussie egg farm Manning Valley Eggs caught attention on TikTok for their “Free Range Webcam.” The live feed operates from 10AM to dusk and gives customers the ability to observe the poultry that makes their omelets possible. While it’s nice as a consumer, do the hens know the eaters of their eggs watch their every move?

This Bud’s Not For You: AB InBev is withdrawing entirely from operations and sales in Russia and Ukraine. The world’s largest brewer is selling their interest from a joint partnership with Turkish brewer Anadolu Efes. In March, the company froze sales of Bud brand in Russia and announced it would be forfeiting profits from the venture. The Budweiser parent is expected to take a hit of $1.1 Billion in the choice.

The Ole’ Switcharoo: While the jocks and the preps sat at different tables, American Eagle has been plotting to buy the whole lunchroom. The apparel retailer has acquired two supply chain businesses in the past two years and hopes to see other retailers, even their competitors, look to them for network benefits. Or, what Amazon did with books, AE wants to do with jeans.

A.I. in the Sky: Bird-based surveillance seems to be a trend for us this week. We recently learned of bird-feeders using AI to identify the birds that stop by for a snack. Bird Buddy and Birdfy are the top brands at the moment. For those who believe birds aren’t real and are actually just elaborate surveillance drones, this is the perfect way to finally turn the tables.

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