1. Around the world: From Uber, Wonder Woman to Volvo, here’s what made the news this week

Around the world: From Uber, Wonder Woman to Volvo, here’s what made the news this week

When an organisation’s culture is questioned — the ramifications can be multiple; from investors losing confidence to consumers shying from using your services. Uber, reeling from various scandals that have surfaced over the past few months, is also witnessing a weakening leadership

New Delhi | Updated: June 20, 2017 3:09 PM
Uber, snapchat Uber, reeling from various scandals that have surfaced over the past few months, is also witnessing a weakening leadership. (Reuters)

Uber’s cultural and leadership crises deepen

When an organisation’s culture is questioned — the ramifications can be multiple; from investors losing confidence to consumers shying from using your services. Uber, reeling from various scandals that have surfaced over the past few months, is also witnessing a weakening leadership. Its scandals range from a lawsuit over self-driving tech to revelations about Greyball — a software it reportedly used to mislead regulators — and allegations of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, the founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company, Travis Kalanick, is taking time away from the company following the death of his mother. His close ally and confidant Emil Michael, senior VP also exited the company. Following complaints of making sexual remarks at workplace, Uber board member David Bonderman was asked to resign recently. The company has fired Eric Alexander, the Asia Pacific business head, as part of its ongoing investigations. He had accessed the medical reports of a woman who had been raped by an Uber driver in India in December, 2014, and also shared it with Kalanick and Michael.

The start-up also released recommendations from Eric Holder investigating into its corporate culture, which was ordered after Susan Fowler, a former engineer, claimed that the company refused to properly address sexual harassment allegations. The recommendations include: revamping Uber’s 14 cultural values; the HR department not performing its tasks, and to update its discrimination and harassment policies; and to keep a check on the power that senior executives hold.

While Kalanick’s return date has not been revealed, reports suggest that his responsibilities might  undergo a review and possibly some duties will be shifted to other executives.
In an email addressed to employees, Kalanick wrote, “The ultimate responsibility, for where we have gotten and how we have gotten here rests on my shoulders. There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.”

Wonder Woman — WB’s campaigning masterstroke

The $150 million franchise was met with crtiticism — not from the anticipating audience but from critics for not spending enough ad dollars to promote the movie that featured a superwoman. Wonder Woman, which clocked $223 million globally on its opening weekend, is turning out to be a masterstroke for Warner Bros and DC Entertainment.

The marketing of the Gal Gadot-starrer was compared to earlier DC comics adaptations such as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, and critics said that because the movie starred a female, the buzz was lesser.

However, it seems that the marketing department of Warner Bros, tasked with bringing audiences to see the movie, had it all planned out with a detailed social media and merchandising strategy to back the film, and thus, going beyond releasing standard trailers and high-key brand partnerships. It also opted for tie-ups with women-oriented brands such as branded cosmetics, jewellery and purses.

Other initiatives include Wonder Woman-themed ice-cream from Cold Stone Creamery, a massive building wrap at Times Square, Mattel action figurines and various accessories.

According to reports, Warner Bros spent over $3 million on Wonder Woman ads compared to Suicide Squad’s $2.64 million budget. TV ad tracker iSpot.tv estimates that Warner Bros has thus far invested $24.8 million in national TV inventory, which is comparable to the initial outlay for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman’s merchandise sales are estimated at $500 million to $1 billion.

The promos, trailers and 30-second cutdowns have also appeared on the Big Four broadcast networks; ESPN and TNT’s coverage of NBA; Viacom networks including MTV, Comedy Central and VH1.
iSpot further estimates that 92% view the spots in their entirety. And these ad spots cut across genders as well. iSpot reports that 49.8% of those who have watched the promos are female, while the other 50.2% are male. One-third of those who have seen a Wonder Woman ad are 18-34 year-olds.

iSpot further estimates that 92% view the spots in their entirety. And these ad spots cut across genders as well. iSpot reports that 49.8% of those who have watched the promos are female, while the other 50.2% are male. One-third of those who have seen a Wonder Woman ad are 18-34 year-olds.

The movie’s official trailer was released 11 months prior to the launch of the movie (June 2) at the San Diego Comic Con, 2016. The companies also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the superwoman through the Wonder Woman 75 campaign over the last year, just like it did in the past years for similar anniversaries for its male superheroes Superman and Batman.

Volvo drives down the emotional route

Forsman & Bodenfors, credited with the Epic Split in its Live Test Series, has launched its latest ad for Volvo. In the film we get to follow an apparently upset young girl who is being persuaded by her mother to go to school.

The mother ironically mentions, “You are in control. You can decide what happens.” The little girl then waves goodbye and is seen walking alone to her first day at school, while seeing vignettes of what life holds for her in the coming years — celebrating her birthday, having fun with friends at school, growing up, travelling the world, settling down and having a baby. Running in parallel, is the story of a distracted woman heading to work in a city in her Volvo. The little girl’s day dreaming comes to an abrupt end as she steps in front of an oncoming Volvo XC60. The car’s safety system detects the girl and applies its autonomous emergency brake, preventing what could have been a life-changing collision. The film ends with: “Sometimes the moments that never happen, matter the most. Introducing the New Volvo XC60. The Future of Safety,” as the young girl moves on. Volvo boasts of noticing 45% fewer rear-end frontal crashes thanks to its collision warning with autobrake system.

The web film Moments, has been directed by Gustav Johansson of New Land. This commercial was released in June, 2017 in Sweden.Volvo has carefully crafted an emotionally-strong three-minute long film unlike its previous much-publicised Epic Split ad that focussed only on the strength of Volvo trucks. Focussing on braking technology through a montage of various situations, seems to be the current running theme for auto companies.

DDB Paris recently created an ad for Volkswagen France, which looks for beauty in the ‘nothing’ — someone admiring a white painting, a man opening an empty fridge, a woman looking at the clear skies — leading to a situation where a man driving a VW is safe even when the car in front of him turns sharply, thanks again to the automatic braking technology. “Nothing, could be the best thing that happens to you,” announces the voiceover.

Snapchat installs plunge

Downloads of Snapchat during the April, 2017 decreased by about 16% year-on-year worldwide on the App Store and Google Play to approximately 21.1 million, down from 25.2 million compared to the same period a year prior, according to Sensor Tower’s Store Intelligence data. The report further suggests that worldwide installs for its competitor Instagram grew close to 19% y-o-y during the same period. It further added that between May 1 and May 10, 2017, Snapchat was installed about 6.2 million times across both online stores, showing a 28% decrease from 8.6 million during the same period in 2016. Meanwhile, Instagram registered approximately 10.5 million downloads worldwide on both stores in the first 10 days of May, up by 17% y-o-y from about nine million during the same period in May 2016.

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“Snap’s new user growth has failed to start off the second quarter on a positive note. The y-o-y drop in the worldwide installs for April and early May could be indicative of the longer-term outlook for Snapchat’s Q2 performance,” said the report. Snapchat’s mounting pressure from competitors and its inability to attract new users may add to the company’s woes. In May, however, Snap Inc’s shares jumped when it unveiled its self-serve ad platform, Snapchat Ad Manager. With an aim to scale its nascent ad platform, the company is focussing on generating revenues by adding automated solutions for big and small advertisers. “Our goal is to put the power of our ad products into the hands of every advertiser, regardless of their size. This tool supports all of our ad products, targeting capabilities, and goal-based auction solutions, which allow advertisers to bid for swipes or bid for app installs,” said Imran Khan, CSO, Snapchat. Snap Inc, the parent company has also acquired location tracking start-up Placed in a $200 million deal. It seems Snapchat is serious about its ad play.

— Compiled by Ananya Saha

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