This Week in Business and Brands: The Sport of (No) Sponsorship, Handling Hurdles, and More

rows of soulcycles

Hashtag Hush

What a week it’s been in that international sporting competition!  You know, the-one-that-must not-be-named?  Turns out the event that everyone’s (not) talking about didn’t always have such a strict policy when it came to the privilege of sponsorship and publicity, but that all changed in 1996 when one athlete took gold – and Nike supplied it.  Unfortunately, the new rules of phrases allowed on social media by the [redacted] committee might be a little too strict for their own good, limiting the conversation and missing out on even more exposure for the games.  But with $100-$200 million coming in from each official sponsor, we’re betting they can afford to put up with these hurdles in the long run.

Branding a Bond

gray bike rim

Speaking of the long run — if there’s anybody who knows about staying in the race despite some recent hiccups, it’s got to be Tim Cook, whose far-sighted strategy keeps him cool in the face of criticism.  Not to mention the support of Apple’s fervent base of devotees, whose piety is hard to match – except perhaps by the “tribe” of SoulCycle, bringing a real spirituality into brand loyalty rarely seen.  Those looking to attain the same level of allegiance certainly have their work cut out for them.  But in addition to tried-and-true incentivizing tactics, our digital world offers even further opportunity for customer fidelity, as CVS Pharmacy can attest with yesterday’s launch of its very own payment system.  Streamlining the checkout process between you and your medicine?  That doesn’t seem like such a tough pill to swallow.

Partners and Produce

Meanwhile, your favorite retail giant just got a little bigger, as Wal-Mart swallowed up fledgling online competitor Jet for $3.3B before it became too much more of a threat.  No surprise there, as the thought of another Amazon sends shudders down the aisles of brick-and-mortars everywhere…even the Meijer grocery shop is willing to meet customers at the curb if they can’t get them to come inside.  Although the way things are going, it won’t be totally out of the ordinary if the next tactic is to turn the supermarket into a Pokémon Go hotspot…

It’s not always easy for big brands to share the keys to their kingdoms, but it’s hard to argue against Yahoo taking on Hulu’s free service as the streaming network goes premium-only.  Certainly, the tech company could benefit from a new feature or two to keep up with the competition.  Another behemoth having to make peace with letting go is Uber, who put Didi Chuxing in the driver’s seat for its Chinese market in exchange for a cool $1 billion.  While some see this as a cautionary tale of the limits of global tech expansion, others are nothing but optimistic about tech’s ability to solve every international challenge.

Exploring Exhibitions

That’s all for this week!  We’ll leave you with this look at the latest attempt to get customers in the (literal) door: curating museums that put immersion on display.