Shades of ads

Also in today’s edition: The box office is back, Flipkart expects a bumper year, Parle sits down for breakfast

Good morning! Purplle is cashing in on the craze to get into Nykaa. A story published in MoneyControl claims that the company is planning to raise around $75 million at a valuation of $500 million. One of the reasons, a source in the story says, the company is attracting attention is because investors couldn’t get the exposure to Nykaa they wanted to and are now betting on the next best thing. Crazy.


The Market Signal

Stocks: After setting new highs in the past few weeks, benchmark indices remained tentative at the start of this week. Both the Sensex and Nifty ended Monday marginally lower than their previous close. Midcap and small cap stocks have become active again with indices of both segments outperforming the Sensex on the BSE today.


Netflix Got Anime Dreams

Netflix has set up an anime lounge in its offices in Tokyo. On the face of it, the company plans to get animators, designers and writers under one roof to help them create new shows, brainstorm ideas and finesse this very popular art form. Once stories are set, Netflix wants to use new technology, ie, VR, to create new ways to deliver shows.

Skip intro: There’s more to it than just creating anime. Netflix is also trying to create intellectual properties (IPs). These IPs can be used to create games, manga or  merchandise. If this starts to feel familiar to Disney’s entire business plan, stop us. This move is another step in the direction of creating active entertainment that Netflix is pursuing. After all, Fortnite keeps Reed Hastings awake at night. 

Skip recap: There is a lot to read into Netflix trying anime as well. The artform has started to get back into vogue. Netflix saw its production, Yasuke, become a hit, which has given it additional confidence to wade into this genre.

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The Return of the Silver Screen

Film studios will no longer have to contend with skirmishes like the one Scarlett Johannson had with Disney. From Bollywood to Hollywood, production houses are now ditching the hybrid and OTT route in favour of exclusive silver screen releases. Gradual opening up of places and increased vaccinations are giving them confidence that people will return to the cinemas. 

Producers aim big: India’s two big film studios, T-Series and Reliance Entertainment, are betting ₹1000 crore ($135 million) for big screen releases as soon as early next year. Meanwhile, Pen Studios, which is producing much-awaited films like Gangubai Kathiawadi starring Alia Bhatt, and John Abraham starrer Attack, reiterated that it would be releasing the movies in theatres and not on digital platforms.

In the US, Disney has said that the rest of its films, like Marvel’s Eternals, will be first shown in theatres and then be released digitally.

Pandemic woes: Theatre shutdowns during the pandemic meant that films across the world, even big-budget ones, saw digital releases. Many in the industry worried that this model would prevail even after the pandemic, eating into their profits. But as more people get vaccinated and step out of their homes, film producers can hope to recoup at least some of their box office losses. 


Facebook Wants Your Eyes

Facebook has come to your face – literally – with its new smart glasses that it launched in partnership with Ray-Ban. From taking photos and 30-second videos to listening to music and answering phone calls, there’s so much you can do. 

BFD: Admittedly, it’s a bit of a letdown since this isn’t exactly a revolutionary product. Snapchat and Google have been there, done that. But something said at the launch is cause for excitement. Facebook plans to overlay digital content on to the real world. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a virtual ad based on location, time and your interests, just for you. Something Blade Runner warned us about.

Follow the rabbit: This is step 1 towards its metaverse dream, where it plans to merge virtual reality with social networking and gaming. Now reimagine these glasses. 

The Signal

Facebook has a user base the size of a continent, which gives it an upper hand when it comes to making these glasses work. Facebook will leverage these users to reimagine the world of advertising. Much wow but there’s something that doesn’t fit. 

Facebook can collect even more personal data on its users, raising privacy concerns. The politicisation of its ads have raised red flags before. The platform’s ability to change behaviour when the user is constantly looking at those ads will be a different beast. Zuckerberg’s company says it will only collect information that it absolutely requires, like battery life and WiFi details, while giving users the option to choose what else to share. A story we’ve heard before.

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Online shoppers push the cart

Sales on e-commerce platform Flipkart are projected to rise to $23 billion in 2021, compared to $15 billion in 2020, The Economic Times reported citing unnamed sources. Flipkart’s last publicly known annualised gross merchandise value (GMV) was $7.5 billion in 2018. 

Festival hopes: The forecast of a 50% jump in GMV on the Walmart-owned marketplace reflects the hope of robust sales during the festival season that begins next month. Last year, the platform saw gross sales of $8.3 billion in the season. 

Chips could be down: The projected numbers appear ambitious considering physical stores are opening up and people may like to once again have a feel of festival shopping rather than order from home. Smartphone sales, which account for half of the total sales for e-tailers, could also see a dip. A global chip shortage has delayed the launch of many phones, including Reliance’s ‘ultra affordable’ JioPhone Next.


A Food Fight Is Coming

Parle Products, famous for its glucose biscuits, is launching breakfast cereals, a Rs 3,000-crore market where giants such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s and Nestle slug it out.

Brand new: While Parle launching cereals looks like a natural extension of its product range, what would be interesting is how it builds the brand. The company is famous for creating brands such as Thums Up and Bisleri. The mineral water brand became so entrenched that ‘Bisleri’ is often used as a generic term for mineral water in India. Thums Up acquired a reputation of the brand that wouldn’t die.

Just taste: Parle has said it is not targeting the health conscious but the indulgent foodie, a counterintuitive strategy when a virus is on the rampage and healthy eating is hot. Like the cola wars and detergent battles, this might also be one for television. 


What Else Made The Signal? 

No need to know: Refusing to file a detailed affidavit on Pegasus spyware, the government told the Supreme Court that it will not reveal in public whether a particular software was used or not. 

Carving up: China is planning to break up Alipay, the Ant Group’s app which has more than a billion users, and hive off its loan business.

SaaS raise: Salesforce rival Freshworks wants to list in the US market for a valuation of $9 billion, making it the largest Indian overseas IPO so far. 

High table: Indian companies concluded 219 deals worth a total of $8.4 billion in August, the most since 2005.  

Speedy expansion: Crypto platform Coinbase is eyeing a $1.5 billion debt raise to explore new products and potential M&As. 

Taking off: Grounded airline Jet Airways will again begin flying in the first quarter of 2022, raising hopes of increased competition and lower fares.  

It’s not over: Epic Games has filed an appeal in a higher court after a judge stopped short of calling Apple’s App Store a monopoly and asked the gaming company to pay damages. 


FWIW

Going KooKoo: Homegrown app Koo is calling itself “Bharatiya Twitter” where users can express their thoughts in Hindi. The social networking site is going all out with Facebook spending to boost users. It was among the top spenders since Facebook launched the Ad Library Report, outdoing even some political parties.

Purging plagiarism: Austrian communications professor Stefan Weber has one goal in life: end plagiarism. Weber and five other freelance “collaborators'' scour the work of writers for unoriginal content. Latest on their hit list? Angela Merkel’s replacement as German chancellor, Annalena Baerbock.

Light of Appreciation: What do you do with hundreds of empty Covid-19 vaccine vials? Make a chandelier! American nurse Laura Weiss did that to pay tribute to healthcare workers who played a vital part in vaccinating the public. 

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