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Netflix 'Squid Game' worth near $900 Million

Netflix charts success by counting “adjusted view share” and “efficiency”

Netflix 'Squid Game' worth near $900 Million
Squid Game AVS // Illustration by Kate Walker

Netflix charts success by counting adjusted view share and efficiency

Leaked documents show just how successful Squid Game was for Netflix, giving the streamer record-breaking multiples in both value and cost-efficiency. With high scores in newly unearthed metrics “adjusted view share” and “efficiency,” it’s possible that Hollywood unions will continue to push for those metrics’ transparency in order to overhaul the creator-residual system for the streaming age.

Giant squid
At this point, everyone and their aunt has seen Netflix’s Korean-language breakout hit, Squid Game. But how successful is the show really?

  • According to leaked documents, Bloomberg reports that the show generated a mythic $891.1 million in “impact value.”
  • That’s off of a show whose budget was $21.4 million ($2.4 million per episode).
  • About 132 million have seen the show since it premiered about a month ago, making it the biggest debut of any show on the streaming service.
  • According to Netflix, roughly 89% watched at least 75 minutes of the series, while 66% (87 million) finished the whole thing.

Almost entirely because of Squid Game, Netflix’s shares have popped 7%, valuing the company at $278.1 billion.

Valuable viewers
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty: how does Netflix actually calculate what a show is worth? In a revelation that will send Hollywood creatives and their representatives spinning, Netflix calculates an “adjusted view share” (AVS) for all programming — a score to determine how valuable specific views are to the platform. Newer customers or people who don’t use the platform much who watch a title are considered more valuable because “that suggests those shows are a reason they haven’t cancelled.”

In the case of Squid Game, the show scored 353 points, which is massive when an AVS score of more than 10 is considered high. And because of its cost, the show had an efficiency (another important metric) of 41.7X. For context, just 1X is considered high.

Prepare for everyone to start asking what any given title’s AVS and efficiency score is from here on out.

Dave Chappelle's 'The Closer' Rotten Tomatoes Score Suggest Review Bombing

Culture wars pick up some Rotten Tomatoes

Dave Chappelle's 'The Closer' Rotten Tomatoes Score Suggest Review Bombing
Rotten Tomatoes review bombing/ Illustration by Kate Walker

Culture wars pick up some Rotten Tomatoes

Dave Chappelle’s The Closer and the Anthony Fauci documentary, Fauci, have something strange in common. Both have polar opposite critics and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, bringing “review bombing” back into the conversation. If Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t get a handle on the tidal wave of rejection or support (rarely) of hot-button projects, press cycles for projects may focus on defending backlash as opposed to engaging in any meaningful conversation.

Splat attack
The culture war is being fought in the most unexpected of places: Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Several hot-button titles are seeing almost opposite scores between their critics score and their audience score.
  • This is especially true of recent titles such as Dave Chappelle’s new standup special on Netflix, The Closer, and Disney+’s Anthony Fauci doc, Fauci.
  • But over the past few years, this phenomenon has also hit narrative projects such as Captain Marvel, the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

A numbers game
The dichotomy between the scores is due to a recent phenomenon called “review bombing,” where typically aggrieved parties or “anti- cancel culture” stalwarts will pump bad audience reviews (Fauci) or good ones (The Closer) en masse. The point is to create a public display of rejection or support for the political/gender/cultural discourse of the title… whether or not the thing is actually good or not.

In many ways, the RT scores are no different than Twitter pile-ons or hate raids on Twitch — hoards of disaffected viewers targeting an object they disdain or adore. Back in 2019, Rotten Tomatoes said it was overhauling its review aggregations to address review bombing… but clearly not much has been accomplished yet.

squid game Walmart Netflix merch

‘Squid Game’ wins merch influence

squid game Walmart Netflix merch
'Squid Game' Merch on Walmart Shopping Hub// Illustration by Kate Walker

'Squid Game' wins merch influence

Netflix and Walmart are teaming up on a merchandise hub dedicated to popular titles from the streamer. The announcement comes on the heels of Netflix’s Squid Game boom, with products featured in the show flying off shelves. In a world where merch has become the new fashion, Netflix could turn its consumer products division into a meaningful revenue stream by offering merch for purchase right on the platform.

Mask up at Walmart
Just in time for Halloween, Squid Game merch is hitting shelves.

  • Netflix and Walmart are partnering up to create a digital storefront on the retail giant’s site — Netflix’s first with a national retailer.
  • Netflix Hub will sell merch tied to Netflix hits such as Squid GameStranger Things, and The Witcher.
  • Additionally, Netflix recently launched its own e-commerce site, Netflix.shop.

Even though Netflix is ramping up its consumer product ambitions, co-CEO Reed Hastings doesn’t believe that merch will actually be a big revenue driver. Instead, Hastings sees the division as a way “to help the subscription service grow and be more important in people’s lives.” Essentially, if people see a Squid Game shirt on the street, they may just go home and watch it.

Brand piggy bank
Although Hastings may not see consumer products as a huge revenue driver for the company, there is no denying that a hit show does open up viewers’ wallets. Just look at Squid Game, which is on track to be Netflix’s biggest show ever.

This isn’t the first time that Netflix has been behind a title whose popularity spurred product sales in line with the story. Last year’s The Queen’s Gambit was behind a monumental spike in popularity for chess sets, chess lessons, and even chess-themed hotel rooms.

Hollywood’s below-the-line workers authorize historic strike vote

IATSE strike / Illustration by Kate Walker.

Hollywood’s below-the-line workers authorize historic strike vote

The Future. A landmark contract negotiation between the union, representing film and TV crews (IATSE), and representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has reached a new level: IATSE members have voted to strike. If the studios can’t reach an agreement, almost all film and TV production will come to a halt….which could significantly impact how much content will be available to watch next year.

Food, sleep, and weekends….oh my!
International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) are fed up with not having basic protections for basic needs.

  • After months of negotiations with studios on a new working contract, 98% of the IATSE (59,478 members) voted to authorize a strike if a new deal wasn’t reached with the AMPTP (those representing the studios and streamers.)
  • If the union calls a strike, the majority of production work in the U.S. would immediately come to a stop — which could mean no movies and no shows.
  • It would be the first strike in the union’s 128-year history.

So, what exactly do IATSE members want? Well, to name just a few basic requests…

  • Limits on insanely long working days (some shoot days can exceed 18 hours).
  • Adequate time off between work days, on weekends, and for lunch.
  • No more reduced wages for projects that fall under the classification of “new media,” i.e., streaming services.

Meanwhile, the AMPTP is in the business of saving the studios as much money as possible (admittedly, a top goal of any company).

No grease in the machine
Numerous actors, writers, and directors (and their unions) have voiced their support for IATSE, especially as #IAStories trends across socials. The hashtag is being used to share countless anonymous stories of on-set worker abuse and dangerous working conditions.

While talks have been stalled for weeks, the contract negotiations have caught the attention of powerful people outside of Hollywood. Over 100 Democratic lawmakers recently signed a letter of support for IATSE, knowing that the effects of a production shutdown would hurt local economies all across the country.

In the wake of the strike authorization vote, the AMPTP has decided to resume talks with IATSE today. Stay tuned.

Our Review of Casamigos Tequila

Casamigos Tequila has a fascinating grassroots origin story that resulted in one of the most popular and profitable spirits in the world. Is this drink all it’s cracked up to be, though? 

History of Tequila and What Makes it Good?

Tequila’s origins are rooted in rich Mexican and Aztec history. The way tequila is made today isn’t as far off from how it was originally created.  

A Shot of History

The Aztecs produced a fermented drink from the local agave plants called pulque—they even had two gods associated with the cherished beverage. It’s possible that they had distilled alcohol as well, but nothing has been confirmed. 

It wasn’t quite tequila yet, but the Spaniards would eventually help with that. They brought barrels of whiskey and brandy with them in the early 1500s. After running out of those rations of spirits, they had to make their own. 

The locals had the agave, and the Spaniards had the distillery techniques. One thing led to another, and tequila was born. Obviously, the technology and methods have evolved quite a bit, but you’d be surprised at how little the core principles of distillation have changed. 

Modern Vitamin T: How Tequila Is Made

Mexico has exclusive rights to the actual name “tequila,” so it can only be made in Mexico (and a certain region, at that). As far as the agave plant goes, it takes about seven years for it to reach maturity. It’s still harvested by hand today with specialized shovels.

The large, green leaves are chopped away with the shovels that are used to dig up the plant to expose nothing but the core. Before the core is transported to the distillery for processing, a small sample is tested for starch content. 

The core is chopped up into more manageable pieces and thrown into a giant oven that steam-bakes for many hours. This process varies slightly depending on the brand of tequila. After baking is done, the starch will have been turned into sugar. 

The core pieces are now all brown and tender and are ready for shredding. After the shredding, which is usually done by a machine, the pieces are thrown into a pit with a huge wheel, usually made of stone. The wheel constantly rolls around the pit and crushes the shredded core. 

The agave nectar is squeezed out by the wheel, and this process also takes hours. The juicy mass is put into giant wooden barrels. Yeast is added for fermentation: this is how sugar is turned into alcohol. 

After days of fermentation, the mash is put into copper stills, where the alcohol is boiled off. The vapor is condensed into a concentrated liquid. After repeating the distillation cycle again, the final product is made: tequila. 

This process is a little different for every distillery and brand produced for different flavors and alcohol content. Usually, tequila is around 40% alcohol, and this is achieved by diluting it with water. 

The only thing left to do is bottling and distribution. There are hundreds of tequila brands that are shipped worldwide, but all of the legitimate brands come from Mexico. It’s like sparkling wine: it can only be called Champagne if it comes from France. 

Stumbling Into a Business

Celebrities often set the stage for new styles and products. We’ve all seen celebrity-endorsed products and services, but they’re definitely not all successful. George Clooney seems to have made it, though. The world-renowned actor also has a passion for spirits and business.  

George Clooney

Clooney is an interesting guy, to say the least. He’s an Oscar-winning actor and now director.  His first big acting break was on the show ER as a doctor, and he went on to star in more than four dozen movies. No wonder he’s considered a major heartthrob. 

The examples below are some of his most popular films:

  1. Oceans 11
  2. Gravity
  3. The Perfect Storm
  4. Burn After Reading

In addition to his acting accolades, he is a prominent philanthropist and has supported 37 foundations and charities. George Clooney’s wife, Amal Clooney, is an accomplished human rights attorney with clients abroad.

You may remember his name making headlines during the Kony 2012 child soldier crisis. Clooney was a backer of a private satellite company called the Satellite Sentinel Project. The company’s mission was to document war crimes and human rights violations.

Idea Chasers

So, is the story of Casamigos Tequila as simple as “George Clooney started a tequila company?” Not really. Clooney became close friends with Rande Gerber, an entertainment businessman, years ago when they met in a New York bar and shared some tequila together.

They and their other friends went on golf trips around the country, and that’s how they met the third member of their trio. One day, George and Randy played on one of Michael Meldman’s courses, and a new friendship was cemented. George, Rande, and Mike became good friends. Mike went on to develop a residential neighborhood in Mexico. 

George and Rande bought houses in the development right next to each other. They threw parties, had dinners, and bonded over trying new tequilas. That property they bought homes on was called Casamigos. 

The group couldn’t find any tequila that suited them just right, So George came up with the idea to make their own tequila. Their vision was pure and simple: make the best tequila in the world. 

The properties they were after were:

  1. Flavor so good that you could drink it on the rocks or straight up.
  2. No burning sensation when going down. 
  3. They also wanted it to be “hangover proof.”

They never meant for their tequila to be distributed or have any kind of branding. They just wanted a custom brew all to themselves—money really wasn’t the goal. George just wanted to drink top-quality tequila. 

Apparently, George and Rande met with many distillers and tasted around 700 different samples until they got the perfect recipe. George shared bottles with family and friends, and it was the only tequila he would drink. 

After a couple of years of ordering thousands of bottles, the distillery told George that they would have to get a license to produce more. The three friends agreed to start a brand and met with a distributor in the States. 

They called their creation Casamigos Tequila after their homes in Mexico. With Clooney’s name associated with the company, the brand quickly took off. 

Is Casamigos Any Good?

Not long after Casamigos was released in 2014, it began receiving many spirits awards, including The Spirits of Mexico Tasting Competition and the San Francisco Spirits Competition. By 2017, the biggest spirits company in the world, Diageo, recognized the brand’s exponential success and bought the company for $1 billion. 

Today, Clooney is still involved in the company and even taste tests batches. The price of the bottles has increased significantly and is known as a top-shelf spirit. Not exactly the kind of stuff you’d use in a margarita but if you’re well off enough, go for it. Casamigos currently has four tequilas available with distinctive flavor profiles. 


The Blanco is definitely the slow-sipper of the four. It has a nicely aged vanilla flavor, and you can definitely sense the agave. There is a noticeable hint of citrus for a bit of unexpected kick. 

If you’re having guests over that you want to treat right to a calm and slow experience, Blanco is the bottle you’ll want to reserve for them. If they’re up for a cocktail, the Casamigos website has some enticing suggestions. 

The Prickly Pear margarita accentuates the citrus notes with the added lemon juice and pear puree. It’s also a wild and fun pink color that’s a great option for a poolside gettogether.   


The Respado bottle is a nice balance between sweetness and spice. This will likely be the most popular option at a party or night out. It exemplifies what good tequila should be: fun but inoffensive. 

You’ll notice a sweet, caramel aroma along with an oaky and slightly fruity flavor profile. Casamigos has a pretty tasty-looking cocktail recipe called the Spicy Pineapple Cilantro Margarita. 

The combination of fresh lime and pineapple juice is a refreshing and vibrant way to experience the Reposado breed. It’s sweet but still complex in a good way. 


Know anyone with a sweet tooth? The Anejo is the one for them. This tequila has a rich caramel and vanilla flavor with a little bit of spice. If you’re diving into this option, Casamigos recommends an adventurous cocktail called the Pineapple Smoke.

This cocktail includes another Casamigos tequila: Mezcal. It’s a pineapple-cinnamon blend of fun, and it’s got just the right amount of spice to balance the taste out.  


This tequila is clear in color but very different in flavor compared to the Blanco. It has a much more herbal flair profile with hints of a smoky aroma. There is definitely still some fruitiness in it, though. If you pay very close attention, you’ll detect a pinch of black pepper. 

Casamigos recommends a simpler margarita recipe that allows the Mezcal tequila to be front and center. It’s called the Smoky Casa Margarita, and it’s silky smooth. 

Have a Nightcap

Casamigos has a fascinating story behind the brand and product. George Clooney was not just a strategic celebrity endorsement; he played a key role in the creation of the company. 

Casamigos Tequila is the culmination of passion and authenticity. There is a reason it’s priced so high. It’s smooth, flavorful, and largely delivers on the original goals. This tequila is a great way to celebrate an occasion with friends, impress guests, or enjoy by the fire with some fun reading. 

The best part? Not only is Casamigos a solid tequila, but it’s also a lesson on how to create a good customer experience. They provide just a few products, but each of them is of the highest quality. There’s a lesson there, if you look hard enough. 



Just Don’t Call It Tequila … | Los Angeles Times

George Clooney: Charity Work & Causes | Look to the Stars

A Brief History of Tequila | Proof

Hollywood lines up to capitalize on NFT craze

Hollywood lines up to capitalize on NFT craze

The Future. United Talent Agency, William Morris Endeavor, and A3 are prepping an NFT debut as the digital marketplace quickly shifts to the blockchain-backed marketplace. Several films and TV veterans are already making millions through crypto media, and full adoption of the tech in Hollywood could reinvent creators’ relationships with fans… and catapult visual artists to the top of the money-making totem pole.

Crypto FOMO
Hollywood agencies are gearing up to make some extra commissions in the midst of the NFT mania.

United Talent Agency, which has called NFTs “the Holy Grail of the art world,” has formed a “digital assets initiative” that will be run by Lesley Silverman.

The agency has recently overseen NFT deals for clients such as musician Halsey and visual artist Roger Dean.

William Morris Endeavor acquired a stake in Otoy — the software company that Beeple used to create his $69 million NFT.

A3 put together a “task force” to educate its agents on “smart contracts” — the crypto-code contracts used for NFT sales.

Multiple studios are reportedly looking into setting up their own NFT marketplaces as well.

Show me the Ethereum
The agencies have good reason to scramble while the getting is good — several entertainment figures are already raking in more money than they’ve ever seen.

Concept artist Ben Mauro (the Hobbit films, Man of Steel) sold a dozen pieces of work as NFTs for $2 million — more money than he’s made in 12 years.

An artist who used to work for DC Comics made $2 million selling NFT artwork of Wonder Woman.

Academy Award-winning production designer Rick Carter (Avatar, Lincoln) is starting to put his work up for sale on the platform OMGDrops, which his son, Jim, created.

The NFT frenzy is clearly a boon for concept artists in particular since it is netting them more money than ever thought imaginable. David Levy (Star Wars, Black Panther) said that “we don’t get royalties on any movies. If we stop work, we lose health insurance, we lose income. We never expected anything like this could happen. But now that it’s here, we’re not going to let it go.”

Booming trading-card resale market shows the value of nostalgia

Pokémon cards
Booming trading-card resale market shows the value of nostalgia

The Future. Fueled by an increase in savings and boredom during the pandemic, trading cards — baseball, Pokémon, Magic the Gathering — have kicked off an investment gold rush. Mixing money-making with nostalgia is a winning formula… and it may be fueled by the same ideals that turned GameStop into retail traders’ catnip.

Hologram hit
We hope you still have your Pokémon or baseball cards lying around somewhere.

eBay saw a 142% surge in sales for sports, non-sport trading cards, and collectible card games in 2020.

Sales were up 4,000% on StockX, even though that site is mostly dedicated to streetwear and sneakers.

Mercari saw a 405% increase in 2020.

Pokémon has struggled to print enough cards to keep up with demand. StockX co-founder Josh Luber compared these collectible cards to rare Picassos… maybe not in terms of quality, but definitely in terms of supply-and-demand scarcity.

Baby steps
Trading cards have garnered a reputation for both their nostalgia and also their financial value.

eBay's General Manager of Collectibles and Trading Cards Nicole Colombo said that they are “a perfect mesh of something that makes you feel good, but it could also help you make a lot of money.``

Mercari CEO John Lagerling said trading cards are sort of like ``old school Bitcoin(s)`` because they are a “volatile and valuable investment.” But cards also bring joy because they are “a tactile asset that can be enjoyed by their owners before being sold.”

For many, trading cards are an easy first step into an investment because collecting them doesn’t require the same technical know-how of traditional stock trading or hyper-technical crypto, which is why platforms such as Rally are quickly growing in popularity.

Brands transition to premium content to survive streaming ad-desert

Brands transition to premium content to survive streaming ad-desert

The Future. As the entertainment industry prioritizes streaming above all else, advertisers have found themselves with fewer eyeballs… and fewer options. So, in order to get audiences to search for them, brands are investing in long-form narratives and docs that put storytelling before advertising. The results are already interesting and successful, which may inject Hollywood with funds for projects that would have otherwise been earmarked for commercials.

Ads aren’t welcome here
Paywalls for streaming services are keeping advertisers locked out and leaving them with fewer people to advertise to on traditional channels.

Research firm WARC found that advertisers spent 10% less on broadcast television last year. Meanwhile, overall online video spending went up by 12%.

Dipanjan Chatterjee, an analyst at Forrester Research, said traditional commercials have “zero credibility” with consumers.

Chatterjee says that the new goal for brands is to now invest in long-form content that “doesn’t come across as an intrusive bit of advertising, [but] feels much more like a natural part of our lives.” These movies and shows could then exist as entertainment on any streaming platform.

Put a story on it
Making long-form content for advertising purposes seems a bit cynical at first, but it has actually been a tried-and-true strategy since General Electric produced the TV show General Electric Theater back in 1954 (fun fact: it hosted by future president Ronald Reagan).

In 2018, Pepsi co-financed the comedy feature Uncle Drew, which was an expansion of the character from the Pepsi Max commercials. It made $42 million.

Airbnb produced the doc Gay Chorus Deep South, which played the film festival circuit in 2019.

The Apple+ hit Ted Lasso started as promotional material for NBC Sports’ acquisition of the broadcast rights to the English Premier League.

Imagine Entertainment launched Imagine Brands in 2018 to connect companies with filmmakers. The company was behind the mockumentary John Bronco (starring Walton Goggins as the title character) for Ford, which aired on Hulu. It’s currently working with Procter & Gamble on a narrative film entitled Mars 2080 that will play in IMAX sometime next year.

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2019 in review

⚡️ The year in review
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Five takeaways from 2019

2019 was a transitional year. Old became new as we hit peak nostalgia. Friends became enemies as we began to see Big Tech in a darker light. The youngest person ever was Time’s Person of the Year, and the embodiment of the Old Master is a baby.

This year we saw our internet-connected globe a little more clearly, and analyzed it with a more skeptical eye. We took things like phone addiction and climate change more seriously. After a decade of disruption and confusion, we began to find our purpose again.

To round out 2019, here are five main takeaways from the year, followed by five major predictions for 2020 and beyond.

1. A new player has entered the game
One cause for hope has been the arrival of Gen Z. In 2019, Gen Z graduated from the nihilism of Soundcloud rap to more meaningful social commentary like “Ok Boomer” and #1 albums about depression and anxiety.

The central symbol of Gen Z’s new-formed identity is an emoji eye roll towards the fake goodness of Boomers and the Insta-narcissism of millennials. Gen Zers are simultaneously more focused on money and the environment than any generation before. They aren’t sold on the idea that an expensive education guarantees a good life. Gen Z trusts less, verifies more.

Up until 2019, no one was quite sure how to characterize Gen Z. Now that we know more about them, we can’t wait to see how they’ll express themselves in ’20.

2. Phones are the bad guy, duh
Our most engaged with email of the year covered a comprehensive study proving that phone addiction is very real. Meanwhile, backlash against the toxicity of social media has risen to an all-time high. In 2019, more people sought out digital detoxes and phone-free travel, embracing mindfulness as they left their “leashes” behind.

3. The rise of virtual people 
While some put down our phones, humanity also delved deeper into the virtual world. 2019 saw the ascent of the virtual influencer and virtual clothes for real influencers. Holograms went on tour and fictional characters set up Instagram accounts. Actors became young again and deepfakes made us question our most trusted figureheads…although Gen Z thinks “trusted figureheads” is an oxymoron.

4. Sustainability is not a trend
2019 was the year that sustainability transformed from stylish perk to permanent fixture of everyday life. The fight against Fast Fashion caused many retailers to go out of business, while others have plans to overhaul their production lines. Brands like Everlane and H&M launched transparency initiatives identifying the producing factory and material source for every item they sell. Major musicians stopped touring to reduce their carbon footprints. Fast food chains served fake meat burgers. The world’s craziest truck was unveiled in a disastrous presentation…before 250k were sold solely because it’s electric.

A lot of people are skeptical about the fuss over climate change, but with phenomena like these, it’s not just a “cause” anymore—it’s an economy all its own.

5. The streaming wars began
Two new competitors in the streaming wars launched (Disney+ & Apple+). Two more are coming early next year (HBO Max & Peacock) along with a lot of smaller projects like Quibi and Discovery/BBC. The demand for content has never been higher, and most small-and-mid-sized movies are relegated to the small screen. The content consumer saw more options in 2019 than ever, and at more affordable prices. But for Hollywood, it was a shaky year. The entertainment landscape was irrevocably altered, and many of the old entertainment elite struggled to adapt.

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Five predictions for 2020

The teens were a decade of sequels and nostalgia. To escape widespread anger and polarization, we were driven to the past, to simpler times when a trip to the mall was all we needed to be happy.

But the age of remembering is coming to a close, and all signs point to the 2020s as the decade we start living in the present. Not a sequel to the past, but something new where everything we’ve learned online is used to make not just a better world, but a more exciting one.

1. Independent curators will dictate culture 
Due to content overload, consumers will seek out relatable curators. The marketplace is responding by naturally selecting ones like email newsletters (e.g. yours truly), YouTube pundits, and Instagram meme accounts. These players are all part of Gen Z’s “push notification news cycle,” which will replace the 24-hour news cycle in the next decade. Where musicians like Kanye “curate” sounds to create modern music, so will journalists, podcasters, and comedians curate the stream of information to become the voices of the ’20s.

2. Labor rights will become the new sustainability 
With student debt and rent at an all-time high, human capital is struggling to make the economy function. As a result, unions are making major inroads in urban fields like art, media, and hospitality. Fashion labels are responding to sweatshop criticism with more transparency. Movements like #PayUpHollywood are publicly embarrassing high-profile employers with social media campaigns. Look for Gen Z’s practical view of money and education to lead to a resurgence of the blue-collar-mindset that’s been absent in American pop culture for decades, even if it’s for white-collar jobs.

3. Real-Time Marketing will dominate the creative industries
Our second-most engaged with topic of 2019 was the Peloton ad and Ryan Reynold’s clever response for Aviation Gin. Also in the top 10 was Popeye’s massive success with the chicken sandwich, largely born from a clever tweet. In response, the old, stodgy, slow-moving corporate approval process (the one that cost Disney billions in Baby Yoda merch opportunities to indie meme-to-merch-makers) will relent to quicker, more creative solutions, opening the door to more resonant ad campaigns that might actually convince Gen Z to buy things.

Get ready for every creative brief in 2020 to come with the line “can we do something like Aviation?”

4. The battle for IP will move to the physical world
In 2019, streaming wars competitors learned that building dedicated fandoms around popular IP is key to victory. Nurturing those fandoms means satisfying fans’ cravings for branded IRL experiences, the model that made Comic-Con the cultural tentpole it is today. For consumers, experiential campaigns bring us together and cut through the stream of digital content. For brands, they excite fandoms, convert sales, and create viral waves of social media sharing. In 2020, as movie theaters become mainly amusement parks for superhero blockbusters, the experiential trend will continue to dominate festival and con culture and expand to new heights.

5. We’ll finally get off social media
In 2019, we took large strides in understanding our relationship with phones and social media, which are increasingly compared to cigarettes in their addictive potential. Elite institutions are taking heed by offering phone-free digital detox options that force us off of our phones. Instagram is hiding likes and Facebook’s user numbers are plummeting, particularly among Gen Z. Brands and celebrities are using programs that allow them to text fans instead of tweeting at them. While many haven’t caught up yet, they will in 2020 because their health depends on it.

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Stranger Things is peak nostalgia marketing

The Future. Millennials are defined by nostalgia. Stranger Things delivers heaping scoops of it, and not just on the show itself. Nostalgia marketing has been around for a few years, but it’s hard to believe it could ever get bigger than this.

Going HAM on nostalgia
Netflix is ramping up nostalgia marketing to never-before-seen levels to promote Stranger Things Season 3. Including:

  • A fair on Santa Monica Pier that will offer an “imagined glimpse” into 1985 Hawkins, Indiana.
  • A 1985-inspired Nike shoe release called “Hawkins.”
  • Eggo waffles social takeover featuring ads from 1985.
  • A Coca Cola throwback teaser for 1985’s “New Coke.”
  • A special-edition upside-down Polaroid camera.
  • sizzle featuring several brand partners—including Burger King and the Gap—that you might find in a 1980s mall.

Netflix partnered with 75 different brands to promote the season, many of them “heyday” brands from Millennials’ childhoods.

Old imagery, new tactics
While nostalgic brand imagery is old, engagement marketing is brand new.  Brand stunts and integrated campaigns were rare in the 1980s, and of course the internet didn’t exist at all.

Back then, a simple TV ad was more than enough to make or break a brand.

Maybe that’s the reason we gravitate towards nostalgia in the first place. It reminds us of a more straightforward time before new media, when media was comfortable being new.

After our “age of nostalgia” ends, will we be nostalgic for…nostalgia marketing?