If you’re one of the 45% or so of subscribers that always reads this thing to the very end then you’ll know that I usually save the ‘thanks for subscribing!’ note for the closing paragraph.
But I'm going to start things off with that gratitude this week.
Ever since I gave FTOF the softest of reboots back at the end of January (you can see the dip where a few people went: ERMERGERD, I FORGOT ABOUT THIS! UNSUBSCRIBE!), the newsletter subs have been on a gradual incline - adding a little over 100 new readers over the course of seven editions.
And that is all thanks to you.
Yeah, I tweet the link from time to time (OK, maybe a fair amount) but that can’t be the main driver of this growth.
Liking, commenting, sharing, and re-sharing the email and the links (and crediting this newsletter for those links) with your own friends and followers… it all adds up. And it’s just lovely.
What’s more, the open rate floats between 45 and 50% each week (I understand this is quite good?) and it tells me that this mixbag of nerdy commentary actually works for a fair number of you. And knowing that really helps with the motivation of pulling this thing together every week(ish).
And with that, let’s see what we’ve got in the bag 'o Things this week.
TO THE THINGS!
1. SOCIALLY MOBILE
“Socially Mobile is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that supports and inspires public relations practitioners across the UK to increase their earning potential.
Through support and funding, Socially Mobile delivers training to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as under-represented and under-served groups including black, Asian and ethnic minority practitioners, the LGBTQ+ community, women returners and those with disabilities.”
This week, one of the communications industry’s big guns (like, one of the proper nice ones as well), Stephen Waddington, got in touch to ask if he could put a note in to Five things on Friday readers about recruiting for the latest cohort for the above programme. It was the easiest yes all week.
Here’s Stephen with more:
Socially Mobile, the leadership communication programme that aims to increase diversity in public relations, has opened applications for funded places.
It's a ten-week executive education course aimed at helping PR and communications practitioners increase their earning potential by developing as managers and practitioners. The programme is delivered via an online teaching platform and Guild community and is assessed and certificated independently.
Socially Mobile was developed during lockdown by Sarah and Stephen Waddington along with a community of more than 50 teachers, assessors, and examiners. They’re both former comprehensive school kids who benefited from council grants to get to university, and continuous education to get ahead in their careers.
Stephen caught up with some of the students that are coming to the end of the first cohort this week to find how they’ve got on.
If you know anyone who might benefit, please encourage them to apply.
I know quite a few of you who read this share these links across your own chat groups and networks, this one is of those ones I’d really like you to share this week. It’s great putting these kinds of things together but unless they find their way to the right audience, they’re never going to achieve their true potential.
I’m going to drop it into a couple groups I know as soon as this newsletter goes live - I hope you can do the same.
2. WHAT WILL BECOME OF FRIDAYS?
The excellent Make Work Better (MWB) substack published this provocation earlier this month. Truth be told I meant to put it in last week but I forgot. Whatever, it’s still a great brain noodle.
“What’s becoming dawningly clear over the course of our first weeks of widespread hybrid working is that some early unexpected trends are emerging. (Yes, yes, I know that lots of people have been working this way for years, but with the scale of the current adoption unforeseen effects are starting to develop).
While some companies (like Lloyds Bank in today’s first podcast) are not mandating fixed days in the office, plenty of other firms are getting into clear rhythms of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (like Apple) or the fairly ubiquitous TW&T. One thing common to all of these solutions is that Friday isn’t in the office.”
I think for many (yes, I know not all) of us who are lucky enough to now be in the situation, this rings true (as an aside, I recall a wonderful conversation post-lockdown with an ex-colleague telling me that finally 'being an advertising tw&t meant something’ - lol), more so when MWB brings out the stat that demand for being in on Fridays is down 75%.
Which, given how we used to be pre-pandemic, is nothing short of seismic.
Anyone can read data. Acting on it, that’s where the rubber really hits the road. And MWB has found some people who are already doing just that.
Go and read ‘What will become of Fridays?’ to find out more (it’s genuinely great).
3. THIS WEEK IN …GAMING (EVENTS)
Last week I told you there was an 89% chance I would be at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco later this month. I am very happy to be telling you that this is not happening.
One games event I 100% definitely will be at is WASD.
A teeny tiny bit closer to home, at London’s Tobacco Docks, and running April 7-9th, WASD is a new video games expo from some of the fairly large brains behind the original Eurogamer Expo (aka EGX) - which, to this seasoned EGX attendee, means it’ll be good.
My new lot (got a new job, did I mention?) are sponsoring and so I’ll be there in a professional capacity on either the Thursday or the Friday (or both) and I’ve also promised the kids we’ll go on Saturday as well. I may as well sleep over.
Point is: lots of indy games, a couple of AAAs, great developers, and still some more stuff to be announced. Even if I wasn’t being paid to go, I’d be going in my free time (which I am).
See you there?
4. THING FOUR THIS WEEK IS ONCE AGAIN ABOUT THE METAVERSE BUT I SWEAR* THIS IS THE LAST TIME MY GOODNESS HELP MY GOD
I think I am on the verge of consigning this section of the newsletter to be a continuous Whatley version of Web3isgoingreat (which is still going and is still not great), y’know? How would that be?
Just, like, a trawler net. Dragging along this the ocean of metaversal horse manure, picking up all the rotting flotsam and jetsam and just calling it out for what it is.
Not all of it is bad. Most of it is. I sincerely hope you all find this stuff useful. Maybe one day there’ll be no need for it. And we’ll move on to the next shiny thing. Maybe.
Shall we get into it already? Let’s.
Wunderman Thompson with this ‘intelligence’ (their words, not mine) about how ‘Hollywood is merging into the metaverse’.
The examples quoted as proving this, and in no particular order, are:
Microsoft buying Activision
Sony buying Bungie
Netflix getting into gaming
Video game/game builder, DREAMS, being used to make a movie
TikTok being used to market Spider-Man: No Way Home
And all this while opening the whole thing by just trotting out the word ‘GAME-TAINMENT’ like it’s an actual thing.
NONE OF THIS IS METAVERSE. NONE OF IT. AND STOP TRYING TO MAKE GAME-TAINMENT A THING. IT IS NOT A THING.
😭 😭 😭 😭 😭
You could say: as the gaming industry continues to heat up, market consolidation is continuing as the race to be the number one game-as-a-service provider becomes the next big thing. Sony doesn’t have a Fortnite of its own (that’s arguably why it bought bungie - plus, y’know, microtransactions), and buying Bungie is a clear strategic step in that direction.
You could say Microsoft buying Activision is yet another move in Microsoft’s ever-growing ambition to be the number one house of studios to help bring its ‘play anywhere’ ambition to life for everyone.
You could say: the Dreams platform being used to make a movie IS an amazing technological feat. It speaks volumes to the powerful tools that live within that game that this is even possible. And everyone should go play it!
You could say: Netflix getting into gaming is a smart way to activate its large userbase and get them interested in something other than streaming movies, a space that is increasingly becoming more and more competitive and where content is the number one ruler of wallet share.
You could say all that stuff.
But then that wouldn’t drive METAVERSE clicks, would it?
And as for TikTok being used to market Spider-Man No Way Home? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? A MOVIE. BEING ADVERTISED ON A SOCIAL PLATFORM. Shocked.
Deep sigh (and this is only the first thing on the metaverse list this week).
Sorry. It annoys me. People read this stuff. Naive/ignorant people - whose job it is to NOT be across this, whose job it is to be across the important things - rely on experts to tell them where the world is going so they can plan and place bets accordingly.
This ‘intelligence’ is bad. It’s worse than bad. It’s useless.
Look, I’m not a big fan of going all in on something like this. It’s not fair. But I’ve had enough now. Can everyone just stop? Please? Thanks.
To soothe the soul, the remainder of this Thing will be bulletised thus:
VICE writes: ‘At SXSW, A Pathetic Tech Future Struggles to Be Born’
Arguably the original metaverse, Second Life, still manages 200,000 daily active users (not a typo - at last count, that’s 10x of Decentraland). Here’s a great long read/conversation with a journalist who’s been covering the Second Life for nearly 20 years.
Speaking of Decentraland, Heineken turned up there this week, with its tongue firmly in its cheek, delivering an actually funny mocking of everything metaversal (while doing it themselves). Lovely.
The always great Alex Hern tried to work all day in VR and hated it (fun part: this was five years ago).
A postcard from “the metaverse” (your comments welcome)
*do NOT hold me to this.
5. BEAUTIFUL THINGS
The National winners of the Sony World Photography awards are utterly beautiful and well worth soaking your eyes on.
SING! THE BONUS SECTION IS HERE, THE BONUS SECTION IS HERE! HERE IT IS, YES IT IS, OH THE BONUS SECTION IS HEEEEERE!
Does marketing have a bias problem? My ex head of strategy, Charlene Charity, giving great - and bloody inspiring - quotage here.
Mario Kart has new tracks out and CD Keys have got them for 25% off. Got Mario Kart on Switch? Get the deluxe booster pack.
I finally bought ‘Everything I know about life I learned from PowerPoint’ and it as good as everyone has been saying it is.
Its author, Russell Davies, popped up on Google Firestarters this week and is well worth adding to your watch later list.
“Oh my!” (absolute fave read of the week)
Consent is like tea (I hadn’t seen this before this week - it’s quietly grim but powerful af).
If, like me, you're dead excited about new Kenobi, you should really watch Rebels. If you can't bear to watch another 85 episodes of new TV then just watch one episode of it. Gizmodo will tell you why.
The profound opportunity coming from post-pandemic life (unexpected).
I shared some artwork from THE BATMAN last week, the whole book is available to pre-order soon, if that’s your kind of thing. But here’s more!
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. IT’S OVER NOW.
If you only do one thing to help Ukraine this week, please share this incredible nine minute film from Arnold Schwarzenegger everywhere you can.
After that, there’s literally nothing more I can tell you.
Until next time,
Whatley out x