Caro Gosney



From boom to bust – what’s going on at Spotify?

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for Spotify execs as they mull over their next steps. Harry and Meghan are gone after their Archetypes podcast was described as “unproductive” and being called “grifters” by Bill Simmons – head of podcast innovation and monetisation – was the final nail in that particular royal coffin.

Then Joe Rogan, the shiniest and most expensive of their signings, invited an anti-vaxxer presidential candidate on his show – a move that must have had the crisis management team internally screaming. Pile on two rounds of layoffs in June and it’s clear that Spotify’s podcast strategy is going drastically wrong.

The formula for success for podcasts is fundamentally different from TV or film. Presidents, best-selling authors or acclaimed filmmakers can barely register on the charts whereas scrappy up and coming podcasts that really hit the zeitgeist soar. Can Spotify pivot quickly enough to look beyond high profile names and focus on making hits again?

How eco is Glasto?

You’d be forgiven for thinking Glastonbury is the festival pinnacle of environmental consciousness given it prides itself on eco creds, with anything from compostable toilets to on site recycling centres. But it has faced criticism for its impact on the environment surrounding Worth Farm: piles of rubbish left behind, helicopters in and out for those too posh to camp and revellers contaminating local water streams by err, relieving themselves in them has led to calls for organisers to work harder to mitigate issues.

This year it seems they finally cracked it. A temporary 20-metre wind turbine powered food stalls and fridges, the giant spider synonymous with the festival was powered by renewables and the Pyramid Stage was run on hydrogenated vegetable oil. 

Being environmentally conscious is easier, cheaper and more accessible than ever and there are fewer and fewer excuses for not taking on the challenge. Yes, it’s an effort but brands need to get onboard if they want to stay relevant to a more sustainably conscious generation. 

Has direct action had its day?

People of a certain age in the UK will remember activist Swampy, part man, part badger who was frequently arrested for tunnelling under construction sites for the HS2 rail line, Manchester Airport runway and various road builds in the 1990s.   

The eco-warrior, real name Tom Hooper, is still protesting, but has tacitly repudiated Just Stop Oil (JSO) in light of the recent Lord’s Ashes pitch invasion, and says it has reached the limit of its potential to grab attention. An opinion echoed by JSO founder, Trevor Neilson, who is uneasy about their guerilla tactics: “I absolutely believe that it has now become counterproductive,” he said.

The UK government has been condemned for inaction – not least by the Tory peer Lord Deben. Last Wednesday, Deben, the outgoing chairman of the Climate Change Committee, criticised the UK’s “utterly unacceptable” lack of progress on climate action. Two days later, Lord Goldsmith resigned as an environment minister, accusing Rishi Sunak of being “uninterested” in climate change.

Step forward the Climate Majority Project (CMP), which says it wants to promote action in politics, business and society by representing those who feel alienated by road blocking and the spreading of orange powder over hallowed sporting grounds.

Swampy is a proponent of CMP, led by Rupert Read, a philosophy professor and former Extinction Rebellion spokesman. Both are eclectic bedfellows of Lord Randall of Uxbridge, Theresa May’s former environment adviser, who is among a range of parliamentary backers that includes naturist Chris Packham, author Michael Rosen and Lewis Pugh, the endurance swimmer.

CMP is inviting funding to support community projects, an “MP watch” programme to hold politicians to account and links with the ad industry to shift in consumer behaviour.

Now is the time for brands – and their agencies – to take a leaf out of CMP’s book and use their considerable collective spending power and problem solving abilities, to grab consumer attention. It’s time for brands to move the needle in such a way that direct action – and government – perhaps cannot.

Award winning creative or inaccessible design?

Spare a thought for the marketing team at Corona beer. It’s been a tough couple of years to share a name with a once in a generation pandemic. So it makes sense they’d try something new and groundbreaking in their marketing collateral to try and shake off the legacy of lockdowns, social distancing and economic shutdowns. 

In its most recent ad campaign, Corona has put recycling at the heart of its creative and removed the product from their ads. The tagline reads “We returned the bottle of this ad. Return yours.” It’s clever and polarising in equal measure. Fans have argued the type is too small, it’s not accessible for visually impaired people and the idea that you associate a shape with a brand (Coca-Cola’s bottle design is the best example of this) is lost. On the flip side, it’s a brave approach to traditional print advertising and it makes consumers sit up and take notice. Read the tagline. 

Whether intentional or not, Corona has got people talking which was probably the point in the first place but it feels a bit style over substance.