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Yes, Virginia. There is such a thing as bad brand creative.

CAVIAR SHOULD BE CHILLED. YOU HEATHENS….
December 20, 2023
Haus.

This week, the once-defunct corpse of millennial heartthrob brand, Haus, came jolting back to life with a jump-scare of a launch — caviar.

While much has been written already about the launch, the original critique came from Future Commerce’s own creative director, Jesse Tyler, with a tweet that called out that the product photography of the caviar was, in fact, a bad Photoshop job.

A number of issues are apparent to anyone who grew up with a pirated version of Photoshop CS6: the shadows are off. The focal length is wrong. The color grade doesn’t match the original photo. The label has no texture or lighting of its own. There’s no noise or film grain whatsoever.

But there was little to no critique of the fact that caviar is never served raw-dogged on the table like it’s a can of snuff. It’s always served chilled, on ice. In related news, my second favorite story of the week is how marketers are hilariously out of touch with real people's lives.

Desperate to save face, longtime supporters of Haus are deriding the critics, saying that it’s sad people still want to take shots at the brand… I quote, “for trying.” This dynamic of brand criticism is an emerging field that legitimizes the emerging art form of commerce, so I applaud a marketplace where criticism of a brand is a legitimate profession. (We cover more of this phenomenon in The Multiplayer Brand, $20 + free shipping)

Let me be clear: caviar is not the problem. The lazy execution of a stereotypically fancy product extension in a stereotypically cheap way is terrible stewardship of the brand that so many people loved and admired. The issue is not the cheapening of the equity that Woody and Helena built by capitalizing on a tinned fish trend; it’s that photoshopping new assets into their iconic work is inauthentic to the spirit of Haus.

You don’t get points for doing the right thing the wrong way. Anyone who says otherwise loses credibility in my book. 

— Phillip

P.S. Did you miss MUSES? Have no fear, we have the recap for you. 2500 words about the workshops, panels, artists, exhibition, performances, and more are available for you right now over on Future Commerce Insiders. Read the recap now, and watch our teaser BTS video over on Instagram.

Sights & Sounds. NY Mag’s Strategist helps find 'Haunted Victorian Doll' dress for girls. Apparel and underwear lead Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales (Next Big Shop). VF Corp faces business impact from ransomware attack. After losing a landmark case, Apple halts Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 sales in the US.

Touch. Depop's Trend Report predicts Gen-Z trends for 2024 in its first trends report.

The Palate. Costco sells over $100 million in gold bars in one quarter and offers rare, expensive Screaming Eagle wine. Dirt Media features Future Commerce co-founder Brian Lange in their ode to Costco: In Costco We Trust. FabFitFun faces backlash over profane ad on Twitter. Sotheby’s launches Signature Media with WSJ former Editor-in-Chief, Kristina O’Neill.

How to track Santa explained using technology. Adults in the West increasingly alone, facing loneliness.

Bonus: In our first-ever zine, The Multiplayer Brand, we gave new insight into the co-creative act between customer and brand. This week, two stories exemplified this phenomenon: 

  • LEGO Ideas partners with creators for user-generated sets, including pre-existing IP. user ‘LobsterThermidor’ (presumably a callback to the LEGO Batman movie’s running gag on the cuisine) built one of the two prize-winning sets. They will receive royalties from the build, which features The Cullen House of Twilight movie fame. Yes, LEGO Jacob is shirtless.
  • Liquid Death creates a Fortnite map, 'Murder Mountain', which changes the dynamic of the game to one where everyone loses, and powerups require murdering ‘thirsts’ through the power of Liquid Death vending machines.
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