Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Games of unknowns.

ESPN will adopt ESPN “The Ocho”, the moniker made famous by the 2004 movie, “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” for one day to broadcast sports that are “the world’s most bizarre, innovative and entertaining.” Why should you care? This is so clever – referencing a cult classic to charm people into watching events they might not even search for on YouTube. It will be interesting to see if this drives enough traffic, including new curious audiences, to ESPN2 to turn this into a more regular peak into unique sports. [The Washington Post]

2. AI as a gender inequality PI.

A new software tool, Quicksilver, is being employed by Wikipedia to identify female scientists whose accomplishments merit a wiki, but do not currently have one. Why should you care? As brands continue to navigate what a #metoo world means for them, tools like this can help brands ensure gender parity, diversity and inclusivity in their offerings. However, it also increases the stakes because AI and other tools can make it easier not only for brands to police themselves, but also for the rest of the world to do the same. [Wired]

3. Mobile-first streaming.

NewTV, a channel that will launch premium, original content for specifically viewing on mobile devices, has received $1 billion in seed funding backed by nearly every major media company in the market. Why should you care? Gen Z is a mobile-first generation. Although other generations may scoff at the idea of squinting to watch something on that tiny screen, smartphones have been Gen Z’s faithful companions and window to the internet since their teens (and the average age for getting a first smartphone is only getting younger). Their major influencers aren’t celebrities, they are YouTube stars who have been creating original content for years. Seed funding is not the same as capturing significant market share, but the idea of mobile-first premium content aligns well with Gen Z and could be a game changer for content delivery. [Variety]

4. Vacation slideshows you might actually want to see.

Royal Caribbean International recently launched a tool that will create a video montage of your photos with custom music composed and executed through an AI tool. Why should you care? This isn’t just a playlist on steroids, this is completely original music based on the “color, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language and facial expression” found in the photos. In a world where everything bespoke is the new normal, this is a nice upgrade from the standard photo slideshow feature. And it doesn’t hurt that these custom commissions will feature Royal Caribbean branding as they are shared on social media. [Los Angeles Times]

5. How much for the space in that window?

Burrow, an online modular sofa company, will be advertising in the storefronts of five empty businesses in New York City during the month of August. Why should you care? Burrow recognized that creating a presence in prime New York City real estate would provide customer interactions not readily available through online platforms. (Even if it is a bit ironic that the locations of the very stores being pushed out of business by online companies are now being used by those same online businesses to advertise their wares.) Their window displays will feature a “Zoltar-like” animatronic figure who will tell fortunes via text (related to Burrow’s branding of “leisure and relaxation”). Fun and engaging, this is also a smart way to reach people in an organic way without the costs of actually having a store in prime New York City locations. [AdAge]

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