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January

Borkowski's Weekly Trends

Weekly Media Trends 

As the curtain closes on January, it would be foolish to imagine we can go back to a life of thoughtless merrymaking.
 
Dry January might give way to a moister February, but the intense passions aroused by Veganuary now seem set to continue all year round.

Veganism and a Bandwagon

Veganism - the shunning of meat, was once regarded as a harmless but inconvenient hobby.

Not only is it becoming more and more convenient but, as we keep getting told, it’s becoming increasingly harmful to be anything other than a vegan. The author of the best-seller Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, recently described the lives of farm animals as “the greatest crime in human history.”
 
Until recently, fast food had turned its nose up at such a hyperbolic statement but then along came Greggs. The bakery chain, long regarded as a bastion of kindly priced common-sense grub on a high street awash with artisanal affectations, proudly unveiled its new £1 Quorn-filled ‘vegan sausage roll’.

This modest innovation might once have passed without comment. Instead, notable meat-eaters reacted with angry disbelief - notably Piers Morgan. However, it seems that quite a few people were waiting for a vegan sausage roll as they have been flying off the shelves. It’s difficult to tell if that’s because the amount of press coverage sparked the fire of curiosity, or there really is such a high level of demand for a value vegan snack. 

Regardless, this week we’ve seen McDonald’s Sweden launch a vegan option to its menu. Welcome to the hilariously named ‘McFalafel’! Tesco launched Vegan Haggis and Hilton Hotel launch the world’s first completely vegan hotel suite in London.

It’s difficult to tell if these are genuine attempts to increase their top line, or a ridiculous PR arms race to annoy Piers Morgan, which it will (also and eventuallyincrease their top line. However, what is notable is that if it’s the latter, the moment has very much passed. Greggs got there first!

Fyre Festival 

If you missed news of a disastrous festival held on an island “once owned by Pablo Escobar” (shorthand for drugs and violence are cool?!) back in May, you’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the sad and hilarious Netflix movie documenting its story.

It would be all too easy to blame the social media ‘influencers’ who lured hundreds of millennials to an island which better represented a “collab” between Lord of the Flies and Battle Royal rather than the kind of party rappers (like Ja Rule) fantasize about. 

As we wrote for PR week, “the concept of influencers is still relatively new and young people in particular are easily swayed by them unless they are educated about how this process works.” Essentially, whilst it is advertising no one explicitly makes us aware of it. Whereas a consumer “can easily recognise a BMW commercial as a traditional ad” (we know cars can’t drive up walls), we can’t be sure that Emily Ratajkowski isn’t really going to be sharing a private jet to a festival with me (although I think most can be sure).  

The Competition and Markets Authority’s ruling that influencers must inform their followers if they were being paid to endorse products will go some way to addressing this. However, it will be interesting to observe if this leads to a decline of social media ‘influencers’ .  It’s something we’ve written on before; surely a lot of their power was always held in their perceived authenticity?
 
Or perhaps, the lure of mingling with Z list celebrities (like Ja Rule), taking selfies in private planes and hoarding likes on Instagram will always be too much for some.  

Oscar Nominations

Whereas the Golden Globes were criticised for being more about “moral preening and identity politics” than choosing the best films; the Oscars were back to doing what award ceremonies do best; highlighting all the flaws in the film industry - courtesy of the lack of female director nominations.

Dazed Magazine drew up a list of films directed by women that should have been Oscar nominated, whilst Variety labelled it “Unconscionable. Unbelievable. Unsurprising.” Equally unsurprising was the hashtag #OscarsSoMale trending on twitter.  

Whilst having an even mix of male and female director nominations would obviously be a definite 'win', it’s difficult to ignore the fact that women account for just 8% of directors working on the 250 top films. An awful statistic, that indicates perhaps, that the problems run rather deeper than the Oscars themselves. 

However, having our awards ceremonies become a circus of contemporary virtues, which espouse moral theatre, won’t alleviate the issues, only mask them.  

Make time... 

Bearing in mind the above trends, The New York Post have written a fantastic article, which explains ‘How the media convinces us we’re all outraged — even when no one cares
 
The piece poses some interesting questions regarding the responsibility of the media to supposedly report news ‘in the public’s interest’ and who these ‘hate clicks’ inevitably benefit. 

Delivering Big Publicity Ideas 

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