A supersize calendar helps busy families get it done

April 12, 2024

The mental math of modern parenting—Can you drive child A to soccer practice before child B needs to be picked up from the orthodontist, with a stop at the pet store, leaving enough time to make a healthy dinner?—has a new ally called the Skylight Calendar Max, reports The Wall Street Journal.

At first glance, it looks similar to Skylight’s popular digital picture frames, which the Journal’s section, Buy Side has tested and recommendsbut it’s actually an extremely useful household organizer you can operate via its touch screen or accompanying app. Share calendar entries, make grocery lists, assign and check off

Now that Journal writer Leslie Yazel has tested this tool, she says, “It’s stressful to see households relying on paper calendars with their collage of scribbled chore lists, ALLCAPS reminders and shadings of grocery items under a wash of coffee drips and corn-flake milk. (I’ve been known to take an iPhone photo of a paper grocery list myself, so no judgment here.)

Yazel says, “If a Skylight Frame is within your budget, it promises to make many aspects of a busy life easier—you may even be able to nag your kids less. I know, right?”

The new, larger 27-inch Max can be wall-mounted portrait or landscape, so you don’t have to worry about it being knocked off a counter. Plus, you can hang it where younger kids can see it and use its touch screen to mark chores as finished. It also has a higher resolution at 2560 x 1440. And its new rounded corners and shadow box option are nice design upgrades that make it seem less dutiful and more decor.

And while Yazel says she is nostalgic “for my days as a singleton, when I just used a charming paper daily planner,” she raves that “the Max is simple to use. Set up took about 15 minutes and it was easier to connect it to Wi-Fi than even my fancy Dyson air purifier. Invite everyone in the family to download the app and sync their calendars—also fast and easy—and see everyone’s schedule at once with color coding.”

Now, your smart-phone-wielding teen can’t say that he or she didn’t know it was his or her turn to take out the garbage—especially if they have push notifications turned on.

Meanwhile, younger kids can check the mounted touch screen and see their chores by color and have the satisfaction of marking them done when finished. You can even add emojis to help early readers: a bed for making the bed, etc.

And if you don’t have the energy to holler at a kid to do their chores? It’s rather satisfying to make an exaggerated, sarcastic-yet-silent sweeping gesture toward the calendar to get your point across.

One important note: If you’re hoping to also use your Skylight Calendar Max as a digital picture frame, there is an annual subscription fee of $40. That can add up over the years. Skylight has a promotion on now with $30 off when you purchase the Max and a year of its subscription Plus Plan.

If your family is big into kids’ team sports, with practices in various coach-selected apps, the Max should be compatible with sports calendars that publish an ICS URL. A Skylight spokesperson says the company “is exploring making the integrations even easier within our app.” For any app or calendar that isn’t compatible, Skylight notes that its Magic Import feature—the only calendar feature that requires its subscription plan—“allows parents to convert PDFs and screenshots of calendar views into events” on the Max calendar.

After running into a mom with a half-dozen kids in a blended family who uses a Skylight Calendar, I got this pro tip: Consider buying an additional Skylight Calendar—they come in 15-inch and 10-inch sizes—for the grandparents. This can cut down on calls or texts each week asking when baseball games start or where dance recitals are taking place. You can also add the subscription fee and load it up with photos of any events they may miss. Perhaps a worth-it price for keeping extended family happy and feeling in the loop.

Research contact: @WSJ

Serena Williams launches Wyn Beauty

April 10, 2024

Tennis legend and entrepreneur Serena Williams has partnered with Good Glamm Group to launch Wyn Beauty, a vegan and cruelty-free makeup collection formulated for movement, reports Retail Dive.

On Thursday, April 4, Wyn Beauty debuted on its branded website; and on Sunday, April 7, the brand launched at 685 Ulta Beauty stores nationwide and on the Ulta digital site.

The initial line of cosmetics for face, lips and eyes includes ten products in 91 shades. The makeup is designed to provide hydration all day, and prices range from $18 for lip serum to $29 for hydrating skin-enhancing tint.

The launch of Wyn Beauty by Serena Williams comes as the beauty category heats up. Mass-market beauty sales grew 6%  last year, while prestige beauty increased 14%, according to data analytics firm Circana. Mass makeup sales in the United States increased 6%; while prestige makeup sales amounted to $9.9 billion in 2023—an increase of 15% compared to 2022, the company told Retail Dive.

And celebrity-backed retail brands were the fastest growing brand type among makeup, with those companies growing sales 46% year over year—about three times the rate of total prestige makeup.

Outside of tennis, Williams is an investor in a host of different companies through Serena Ventures, which launched in 2014.

Wyn Beauty follows several other celebrity-backed beauty brands that have launched in recent years, including Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Beyoncé’s Cécred hair care brand.

“I’m so excited to introduce Wyn Beauty to the world,” Williams said in a statement. “To me, beauty has always been about self-expression and stepping into the best version of myself. Throughout my career, I was always searching for makeup that looked good after hours on the court—mixing products myself and creating my own formulas while traveling the world.”

Research contact: @RetailDive

Dramamine goes for the gut with documentary tribute to barf bags

April 9, 2024

Motion sickness brand Dramamine’s latest marketing effort features a shoppable collection of repurposed barf bags that come with colorful designs, reports Marketing Dive.

Dramamine has produced a mini-documentary that serves as a tribute to the barf bag—an invention that the over-the-counter nausea relief brand has helped make less relevant.

The marketer interviewed barf bag collectors, medical experts, and everyday people with memorable vomit-related stories for The Last Barf Bag: Bidding Farewell to an American Icon. The content marketing piece recalls the history of barf bags, which were introduced roughly 75 years ago—around the same period as Dramamine.

This is Dramamine’s largest marketing investment since 2010, when it was acquired by Prestige Consumer Healthcare. Dramamine has grown its business by 30% in recent years and could stoke further brand awareness with the creative play that goes for the gut.

Those prone to emetophobia may want to steer clear of Dramamine’s latest campaign, which not only pays tribute to the barf bag, but also shares stories of motion sickness gone wrong—inclusive of descriptions of various forms of vomit.

The brand marketed by Prestige Consumer Healthcare is positioning the effort as a mea culpa, claiming its products are effective enough to have diminished the societal necessity of barf bags. That achievement represents a potential blow to barf bag collectors, a hobbyist group that’s central to the documentary and “just as interesting as they sound,” per details shared with Marketing Dive.

“At Dramamine, we’ve spent the last 75 years perfecting the art of nausea prevention. Unfortunately, that pursuit may have had an unintended side effect: barf bags don’t have as much barf to catch anymore, and their industry has been impacted as a result,” a website promoting the campaign reads. “That just didn’t sit right with us.”

TheLastBarfBag.com additionally features profiles of the collectors interviewed for the doc and a shoppable collection of repurposed barf bags that come with colorful designs and Dramamine products.

Jessie Bearden, a creative director who appeared on NBC’s “Making It,” also designed a one-of-a-kind wearable jacket made of barf bags that will go on sale April 17.

Dramamine enlisted agency FCB Chicago for the campaign, while Sunny Sixteen handled directing duties.

Research contact: @marketingdive

McDonald’s to buy Israel stores as turmoil rages in Middle East, boycotts loom

April 8, 2024

McDonald’s announced on Thursday, April 4, that it has agreed to buy its Israel franchise, which has 225 restaurants and more than 5,000 employees. This comes as the war between Israel and Hamas continues and other unrest in the Middle East upticks, reports Fox Business.

Alonyal, which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in Israel, has signed an agreement with McDonald’s for the sale.

“For more than 30 years, Alonyal Limited has been proud to bring the Golden Arches to Israel and serve our communities,” Omri Padan, CEO and owner of Alonyal Limited said in a statement from McDonald’s. “We’ve grown the brand to be the leading and most successful restaurant chain in Israel and are grateful to our management, employees, suppliers, and customers who made this possible. We are encouraged by what the future holds.”

McDonald’s said it will own Alonyal’s restaurants and operations, and employees will be retained on equivalent terms.

“We thank Alonyal Limited for building the McDonald’s business and brand in Israel over the past 30 years. McDonald’s remains committed to the Israeli market and to ensuring a positive employee and customer experience in the market going forward,” said Jo Sempels, President of International Developmental Licensed Markets at McDonald’s.

A large percentage of McDonald’s restaurants around the world are owned by franchisees. Buying the Israeli franchises comes at a time when the fast-casual dining global chain aims to increase its number of stores worldwide by about 8,800 to bring its total to 50,000 restaurants before 2028.

McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest fast-food chains, said its operations in the Middle East have taken a hit with the ongoing war and other regional conflicts, according to McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski.

Kempczinski said operations there are being affected due to “misinformation” about the fast-food chain’s position on the conflict. He wrote that “several markets in the Middle East and some outside the region are experiencing a meaningful business impact due to the war and associated misinformation that is affecting brands like McDonald’s.”

Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, McDonald’s said it would donate free meals to the Israeli military, according to Reuters. This sparked a regionwide boycott of the fast-food chain, as well as other American fast-food restaurants like Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut; and American products like Coca-Cola and 7-Up.

The agreement is subject to certain conditions, with closing of the agreement anticipated in the coming months, the corporation stated in a press release. (Reuters contributed to this report.)

 Research contact: @FoxBusiness

Staten Island ferry owned by SNL stars Pete Davidson and Colin Jost set to be converted into hotel

April 5, 2024

Saturday Night Live stars Pete Davidson and Colin Jost‘s Staten Island ferry is in for some big changes: One of the comedians’ partners on the project, architect Ron Castellano, has revealed in an interview that the ferry—which was purchased for $280,000 in 2022 by the two Weekend Update anchorswill be converted into a floating hotel with 24 rooms, two restaurants, and six bars, reports Fox Business.

“It’s going to have a lot of things,” Castellano says of the $34 million venue project.

“I think right now, we have six bars and two venues operated separately or combined,” he continues. “We have outdoor event space, we have restaurants—two restaurants. It’s a big boat, almost 300 feet long, 65,000 square feet. That’s one and a half times the size of Nine Orchard Hotel.”

The architect says that Davidson and Jost have been hands-on since the ferry was auctioned off by New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services in January 2022.

“They have input. They see everything. We have meetings as needed, sometimes twice a week, sometimes every three months,” he told the outlet of the “SNL” stars.

“Right now, honestly, I’m trying to get the design work done as fast as possible.”

Davidson and Jost, along with comedy club owner Paul Italia, originally had plans to turn the ferry into New York City’s next hottest club when they purchased the vessel.

The ferry does not currently have plans to include a swimming pool, but that could change, according to Castellano.

“A pool is something that keeps coming up. We’re going back and forth,” he said. “There’s a little Jacuzzi kind of thing, but not a full-on pool. We’d have to do a floating pool.”

Castellano also shares that the ferry could be towed between New York and Miami. “I think that’s exactly still the plan. It doesn’t have to be in one place. It can move, so we’re exploring both locations,” he explained.

Castellano notes, “We have sort of the initial construction phase underway, like, we’re just bidding it out as it gets done. That’s going to take a year, and as that happens, we’re tightening the drawings,; and as that’s happening, we’re going to find the location.”

Last summer, Davidson, 30, joked he had regrets over purchasing the decommissioned Staten Island ferry. The former “Saturday Night Live” star admitted he had “no idea what’s going on with that thing” when asked if he would host an after-party on the boat following the “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” premiere in June.

“Yeah, if it’s not sunk!” Davidson teased during an interview with Entertainment Tonight.”

“Hopefully it turns into a Transformer and gets the f— out of there, so I can stop paying for it!”

During the red-carpet event, Davidson confessed he and his co-star were under the influence when they purchased the ferry.

“Me and Colin were very stoned a year ago and bought a ferry. And we’re figuring it out,” he said.

In January 2022, Jost, Davidson and Italia put down a winning bid for the John F. Kennedy, a 277-foot vessel that shuttled commuters between the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island from 1965 until it was taken out of service in August 2021.

Shortly after the impulsive purchase, Davidson and Jost joked about buying the boat during an SNL segment.

“Hey! We bought a ferry, the windowless van of the sea,” Davidson announced.

Jost quipped, “Yes, it’s very exciting. We thought the whole thing through.”

In April 2022, Jost, 40, took the decommissioned Staten Island ferry for a joyride.

The comedian was photographed setting sail from the St. George Ferry Terminal for the first time since the ferry was initially purchased.

“I took this exact boat every morning at 7 a.m. to go into high school in the city,” Jost told the New York Post at the time. “It’s cool. It’s weird to be back.”

Jost was joined by his 96-year-old grandfather as the ferry was towed to a new temporary location.

“I wanted my grandpa to see it. He’s 96 and he’s been on Staten Island for his whole life,” Jost explained.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

A California bill would let workers ignore their bosses during off hours

April 4, 2024

A new bill is aiming to give Californians more work-life balance by restricting when employers can contact them during off-hours, reports NBC News.

So-called “right to disconnect” laws already have made headlines overseas. If passed, California would be the first state in the USA to try it.

Under the bill proposed by San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney, California companies would have to better specify employee “compensated” hours.

In turn, employees wouldn’t be expected to respond to calls, texts, or emails outside that timeframe—a welcomed change for remote workers like Rob Hayes.

The Solano County resident says, “It feels like I have to set my phone on silent certain times; not open up my computer certain times. If I don’t right now, I kind of feel like I would be left behind or not seen as someone who works hard; so I think it’s really beneficial.”

The state’s labor commission could investigate and fine employers for interrupting employees’ personal time. Management expert professor Amira Barger believes the bill addresses workplace equity issues.

“We are dealing with an epidemic of burnout and that’s part of how we got here,” said the Cal State East Bay professor. “This is a necessary adaptation as we look towards the future of work. Employees are demanding more of employers and they are demanding a new value proposition of what work looks like.”

The bill makes exceptions for emergencies, scheduling, and collective bargaining—but also aims to create boundaries in business that assembly member Haney says are missing.

“California created many of these technologies that allow people to be available 24/7. We should also lead the way in making sure we can make them sustainable for work-life balance,” he says.

But California’s Chamber of Commerce argues the bill is a step backwards for workplace flexibility and fails to consider California’s longstanding laws regarding hours worked and compensation.

Haney disagrees—saying he feels it actually does the opposite, while also creating a stronger workforce.

“I’m hopeful that this increases the competitiveness of California’s industries and helps people to come back to work, or come to work in California,” he said. “I think this is actually going to help our competitiveness as a state for industries, for highly skilled workers.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Want to get a job as one of Biden’s 20,000 climate workers? Here’s what you need to know!

April 3, 2024

The jobs board for the American Climate Corps is set to officially launch this month—and it’s likely to be flooded with eager applicants, reports Fast Company.

.Since President Joe Biden announced the New Deal-inspired program last September, more than 50,000 people have expressed interest in joining. But space is limited: The program will launch with just a few hundred positions.

Given that most jobs won’t require relevant experience, how will the program select its first cohort?

“I think the idea is to make it as broad as possible, so all young people can find something, whether they’re at a 7th-grade reading level and they’re coming out of the foster care or juvenile justice system, or whether they’re a PhD candidate at a university,” says Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of The Corps Network. Her association represents 150 corps, including AmeriCorps, that will host many of the ACC projects.

The first list of job openings will likely include things like installing solar panels, restoring vulnerable habitats, and fire hazard prevention. While some positions will require math and science skills, or higher degrees in things like environmental science or natural resource management, others will be looking for “basic 21st century work readiness skills like communications, conflict resolution, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, reliability,” Sprenkel says.

There’s an interview process, although Sprenkel says that the interviews aren’t usually extensive. “They just want to make sure the young person is a good fit,” she said. The “young person” definition is flexible, too. There’s no official age cap that she knows of, but the typical age range for corps members is between 16 and 35.

Funding for the Climate Corps projects is subject to Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, an executive order requiring at least 40% of the benefits from certain federal programs to go toward disadvantaged communities. “So there will be an emphasis to support project work in environmental justice communities and underserved communities, and enroll young people from those populations,” Sprenkel said.

Each post will vary in length depending on the project at hand. Some corps run summer programs that last three or four months. Others run year-long programs. But all corps members will be compensated no matter how long the position lasts.

This could come in the form of a stipend, living allowance, or a wage, though the Corps Network is strongly encouraging programs to pay at least $15 per hour. Payment will vary depending on state minimum wage requirements. Some projects might have a benefits package that includes money for transportation or housing.

Climate Corps members will receive training that allows them to enter the workforce with essential green skills needed to address the climate crisis and aid in the energy transition. And the corps will help members make that leap into the workforce by connecting them to potential employers and arming them with industry-recognized credentials.

“They are definitely focused on giving the young person experience that will help them find a career,” Sprenkel says.

Research contact: @FastCompany

U.S. Postal Service picks UPS to move air cargo—sacking FedEx

April 2, 2024

The U.S. Postal Service has tapped United Parcel Service as its primary partner for moving cargo by air—replacing FedEx, which had provided the service for more than 20 years, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The USPS and FedEx had been in talks to extend the contract, but were unable to reach an agreement, FedEx said on Monday, April 1. The four-year contract ending in September covers domestic air transportation for First-Class Mail, Priority Mail Express, and Priority Mail.

The USPS had been FedEx Express’s largest customer. In recent years, the USPS contract became a drag on FedEx’s earnings. FedEx Chief Customer Officer Brie Carere said as recently as last month that the company was making progress on renegotiating the contract on more favorable terms.

“Over time, our respective strategies have shifted as we transform our networks and operations for the future,” said a FedEx spokesperson. “We have long said we would extend the contract with the USPS if we could agree to commercial terms in the best interests of FedEx shareholders.”

She added that FedEx will eliminate structural costs in place to support the contract after it ends.

In turn, UPS has confirmed that it has signed an agreement with the USPS—but has declined to say how long the contract will last.

The Postal Service has been restructuring its operations including closing facilities and diverting more parcels to be delivered by truck instead of by plane. In August, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that the Postal Service would save around $1 billion in its annual air transportation costs by moving mail and packages to its ground transportation network. USPS said more than 95% of its First-Class Mail and First-Class packages are moved by its ground network.

USPS has said that, in the past 20 years, the use of First-Class Mail has declined amid a rise in digital communications—but a rise in e-commerce meant it sees more parcels in its network. For the fiscal year ended September, USPS said its expenses for air transportation fell 16% from the prior year to $3.1 billion. It doesn’t own or operate any planes.

FedEx has been retooling operations in a bid to cut costs and simplify its network. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company has been slashing billions in costs—parking planes and laying off workers, spurred in part by an industry downturn in delivery volume. FedEx also is combining its Express and Ground delivery units—changing a decades-old operating structure.

Research contact: @WSJ

Celebrity cats compete in Sheba’s ‘March Madness’-style tournament

April 1, 2024

Mars Petcare’s Sheba cat food brand is offering some adorable counter-programming to the NCAA’s March Madness by enlisting eight felines with huge TikTok and Instagram followings in a bracket-style tournament in which they’ll race to lick up the brand’s new Gravy Indulgence meal, reports Adweek.

Devised by agency AMV BBDO, The Gravy Race is a single-elimination competition featuring cats with a combined follower count of 55 million.

CBS NCAA Tournament sportscaster Ian Eagle hypes up the event as “the greatest feline competition in the world” in a 30-second trailer introducing the contestants.

They appear in animated form, spinning around on robot vacuum cleaners, along with their social media follower count and favorite Sheba flavor.

Eagle also is providing highly enthusiastic play-by-play coverage of each round of the race, which begins March 29 on TikTok and Instagram, where viewers will be able to click through to buy the product. The final round will be livestreamed from Times Square in New York City.

Besides March Madness, the contest is timed to the new Sheba Gravy Indulgence Entrées hitting shelves nationwide. “This felt like a great moment to add to the fun for sports and cat fans alike by hosting our own matchup to enjoy,” Mars Pet Nutrition North America Chief Marketing Officer Jean-Paul Jansen told Adweek.

“It only made sense to tap veteran American sportscaster Ian Eagle to help bring the campaign to life. Cat parents and cats can bond over the new product while rooting for some of their favorite cats as they go head-to-head in The Gravy Race.”

The campaign is being supported by digital out-of-home, PR, and social and influencer marketing. Consumers can also enter a sweepstakes awarding a year’s supply of Sheba cat food and treats, and a $3,000 gift code by commenting on Instagram guessing which cat will win the competition or sharing a TikTok video of their own cat racing to lick up gravy.

“The Gravy Race has all the right ingredients to be one of the most famous competitions in the world: internet-famous cats, a top sports commentator and a track made of Sheba Gravy Indulgence Entrées,” AMV BBDO Creative Partner Andre Sallowicz said in a statement.

“With a reach of over 55 million cat lovers tuning in, it has the potential to be one of the most watched sports events in the United States. The Gravy Race is sure to catapult the brand into the spotlight, adding a splash of fun and excitement to the product launch.”

Research contact: @Adweek

Karlie Kloss and Josh Kushner to reboot ‘Life’ magazine

March 29, 2024

More than two decades after it was shuttered by Time Inc., Life magazine will be revived, discloses Hollywood Reporter.

Bedford Media—the holding company founded by model and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss and her husband, investor Josh Kushner—has acquired the publishing rights to Life from Dotdash Meredith.

Bedford says that Life will be relaunched as a print magazine, with a “vibrant” digital and video presence.

“We see Life as an uplifting and unifying voice in a chaotic media landscape,” says Kloss in a statement. “While Bedford is a new media company, we are deeply inspired by Life’s iconic legacy and ability to connect diverse audiences with universal narratives of humanity.”

Life was first published in 1883. In 1936, it was acquired by Time founder Henry Luce, who gave it a new editorial focus built around using photographs to tell stories of the news of the week.

The deal for Life suggests that Kloss and Kushner have broader media ambitions than previously thought. The company acquired i-D Magazine from Vice Media last year.

“Blending iconic brands with new ways of doing business and reaching audiences, the company’s strategy banks away from ubiquity and reach toward quality and depth,” per Bedford’s tagline—suggesting that the new Life will be more focused and less general interest.

Life‘s legacy lies in its ability to blend culture, current events and everyday life—highlighting the triumphs, challenges and unique perspectives that define us,” says Kushner, who will also serve as publisher of the magazine.

Dotdash Meredith—which acquired the remnants of Time Inc. in 2021—will retain Life‘s photo library and content archives, and will continue to produce occasional special issues for newsstands built around single topics.

Research contact: @HollywoodR247