Ben Young
Ben Young
January 15, 2021

Happy New Year! Our first note of 2021. We’ve decided to not cover the suspension, Parler and related this week. We may in the future but felt like it clouded important stories, which would otherwise be overlooked. Of note is the M&A/deal activity since the last edit.

One big thing

I’ve said whether the Olympics go ahead or not may be the canary in the coal mine for the marketing and media industry this year. If they go ahead, it reveals that all the athletes were able to train safely, travel, maintain sponsors, and compete. It will likely be the biggest viewing of any Olympics, with many of us still at home. They’ll act as the bastion of progress in recovery.

If it delays another year, that signals that maybe not all of these things can come together in a safe way. And the business environment is probably going to be rocky. The Olympics can be a symbol of hope but I think the organizers will make the best call with the information they have.

I doubt the Olympics organizers have any focus on Cannes, but their green light to go ahead this year has folks talking.

Notable stories this week


  • BuzzFeed explores a blank check company (SPAC) for acquisitions.
  • Glance (lock screen content + ads in India) raises $145m in round led by Google.
  • The Penny Hoarder is being acquired for $102.5m.
  • MGM puts itself up for sale at $5b.
  • Quibi sells content to Roku for less than $100m, will use the content for growing an ad-supported channel.
  • Bustle Digital hires bank to explore SPAC.
  • LG grabs a majority stake in tv data provider, Alphonso.
  • S4 Capital picks up performance agency Metric Theory and integrated agency Decoded.
  • Medium is acquiring Glose, a digital platform for books.

Campaign of the week

  • Birdwatching with Gucci.
  • Apartment Therapy and HBO Max with Which bingeable series should you watch next?
  • Closing the circle on waste, by GC on National Geographic.

Branded content by Gucci

Datapoints of note

  • 67.9% of US marketers with 100 or more employees will use influencers for paid or unpaid brand partnerships in 2021.
  • From an APAC Criteo study. 38% of marketers saw increased website sales and bookings since the onset of the pandemic, resulting in accelerated digitization of their business processes.
  • 54% of APAC marketers to spend more on content marketing.

That’s it for this week.