This Week In Branded Content (October 19)

“Red Bull is not in the world of music to make money off music, we are entering this with no need to make everything work financially – we can focus on presenting things that are interesting and use that freedom.”

– Many Ameri (Red Bull Music Academy)






Upstairs Amy: Walmart Canada Explores Branded Entertainment

Walmart Canada is getting into the branded content business. Next month, along with debit system Interac, it’s launching Upstairs Amy, a scripted web series about millennial parents that also features brands a wry Canadian sense of humour (with a U). A press release describes Upstairs Amy—which will run on the Walmart Canada and Interac YouTube channels—as “a modern comedy about millennial parents and the gap between who they are and who they want to be.”


BY Abe Sauer



Sonos’s Secret Weapon In The Smart Speaker Wars: Becoming A Platform

Barely two hours after the stage lights dimmed at Sonos’s product launch event in New York last week, the speaker company’s products had yet another new competitor. The Google Home Max, a high-quality speaker and just one of several smart gadgets announced later that day, may be Google’s voice-powered answer to Apple’s HomePod and Amazon’s new higher-quality Echo, but it also takes aim the wireless home audio turf long dominated by Sonos. It’s not the first time the 15-year-old wireless home audio company has felt tech giants inch closer to its territory.


BY John Paul Titlow




No Alternative: How Brands Bought Out Underground Music

Is it possible, in 2017, to sell out? Not so long ago, cosying up to big business was considered the gravest sin an underground artist could commit – but these days new and leftfield musicians seem to spend their days hoovering up cash provided by brands while fans barely bat an eyelid. It’s not simply a case of moral bankruptcy, but rather literal bankruptcy: new and independent artists have had their potential income slashed by streaming and have been forced to mine money from an alternative source. But what’s in it for the brands – why have massive companies like Budweiser, Versace and Adidas invaded the alternative music scene?.


BY Rachel Aroesti



The CoD: WWII Live Action Trailer Is Out

In approximately three weeks, Call of Duty is taking the franchise back to WWII, with some good old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground gameplay. It’s no Destiny 2 live action trailer, but it has its own charm. Instead of dressing actors up in WWII garb and trying to depict actual gameplay, the CoD: WWII live action trailer shows would-be players running around town to find the other members of their squad.


By Jordan Crook




The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare

One day in the spring of 2016 I mentioned to a friend that I needed a new mattress. Mine was a sunken hand-me-down that had become about as comfortable as concrete. “I know a guy who can give you a free mattress,” my friend said. This sounded too good to be believed, but my friend protested it was true: “This guy Kenny, he reviews mattresses online, and companies just send them to him. He can’t get rid of them fast enough.” Not long after came the email introduction: “David, meet Kenny.”


BY David Zax



Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes

Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported. The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.


BY Jen Markham




These 6 Short Films, All Shot on LG’s V30 Phone, Premiered at the New York Film Festival

In Hollywood, when something’s a hit, there’s usually a sequel. Cue LG, which has been following a similar script to showcase the cinematic video features of its new V30 smartphones. Fade in: A few weeks back, LG tapped Game of Thrones cinematographer David Franco to shoot a short movie using only the V30. The resulting clip, “A Day in the Life,” showed off the device’s filmmaking functionality through a montage of people, places and things, elevating the ordinary into a vibrant visual palette.


BY David Gianatasio



‘Walking Dead’ Claws Deeper Into VR in AMC’s New Virtual-Reality App

Now you can experience the full terror of turning into a zombie from “The Walking Dead” in AMC’s new virtual-reality app — if you’re into that sort of thing. The free AMC VR app, published Wednesday, is stocked with 360-degree immersive content created for “The Walking Dead” and martial-arts series “Into the Badlands,” with more coming for the cabler’s other original series. It also includes AMC trailers and behind-the-scenes video in the the app’s “screening room.” For now, the AMC VR app — like lots of projects in the VR space — is strictly promotional, designed to stoke fan excitement for the network’s shows.


BY Todd Spangler




Facebook Renews Several Original Shows as Programming Strategy Takes Shape

The social networking giant has handed out second-season orders to several originals, including ‘Ball in the Family’ and Nicole Byer’s ‘Loosely Exactly Nicole.’ Which shows are working on Facebook’s one-month-old Watch video platform? A batch of early renewals is helping bring the social network’s original programming strategy into focus. The tech giant is handing out second seasons to Mike Rowe’s unscripted series Returning the Favor, Bunim/Murray-produced reality series Ball in the Family and scripted comedy Strangers.


BY Natalie Jarvey



Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Opens The Floodgates In Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein is certainly not the first powerful man publicly and credibly accused of sexually harassing or abusing women in recent years. Since 2015, the Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, the Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly and the comedian and actor Bill Cosby have suffered professional, financial or reputational setbacks after numerous women told stories of their sexual misconduct. Those stories dominated news cycles, to be sure, but the outcry accompanying Mr. Weinstein’s downfall seems louder and more impassioned — perhaps because Mr. Weinstein’s accusers include stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.


BY Jim Rutenberg, Rachel Abrams and Melena Ryzik






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