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. Coke has launched a subscription service

On Monday, Coke launched its subscription service, Coca-Cola Insiders Club. Why should you care? For $10 a month, insiders will receive beverages that could be anything from AHA flavored sparkling water to Coke Energy. The company said, “This program was inspired by the growth of the e-commerce subscription market, which has more than doubled annually over the last five years.” As other subscription services struggle, this is an interesting business move for Coke. Although not the stated purpose, brands looking to identify their super fans and potential influencers might consider similar programs. Super fans self-select, gladly surrender their data and even pay the company for the service – it would be hard to imagine that the benefits of consumer data collection here didn’t outweigh the costs. [Fox Business]

2. Why don’t Americans use WhatsApp?

An estimated 1.5 billion people use WhatsApp monthly, but users in the U.S. are much lower than in comparable markets. Why should you care? WhatsApp was created in California in 2009 and was bought by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014. So, why is WhatsApp not the default messaging platform like it is everywhere else in the world? Americans don’t need its best asset: international compatibility. According to Forbes, only 42% of Americans have passports while 66% of Canadians and 76% of British and Welsh people have passports. Therefore, Americans are traveling less and have less need to reach friends and family in other countries. While this may change as younger generations are traveling and studying abroad more, this is a great reminder that even in a globalized world, the U.S. market can still be quite insulated. Although WhatsApp is a platform to watch, and use internationally, it should be used strategically in the United States. [Digital Trends]

3. Google reveals how much of the Earth it has now mapped

Google posted a video showcasing how much of the world it has mapped and photographed. Why should you care? Over the last 12 years, Google’s Street View cars have gone around the globe. You can now view more than 36 million square miles of high definition satellite images in an instant, at any time. Google has collected so many images that they have more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery, which is the equivalent of circling the globe more than 400 times. Though they have mapped over 98% of the world’s population, large spaces still remain. As the technology and access to the platform increase across the globe, it will be exciting to see what new discoveries come from this information. [New York Post]

4. Hackers target home security cameras

This week there has been multiple accounts of strangers hacking into home security cameras and speaking to the people in view. Why should you care? Attacks include shouting at residents, blasting music and setting off alarms. One of the creepiest stories circulating includes an eight-year-old playing in her room when a man tells her that he is Santa Claus. While security breaches have been top of mind these past couple of years due to high-impact incidents, attacks on homes make this so much more personal. Even though people still enjoy the convenience, cyber security will likely rise to a primary concern over the next year. As gadgets tend to top holiday gift lists, companies would be wise to bolster the security of their products in the new year to garner positive responses rather than horror stories on social media. [CBS]

5. “Stealth marketing” ends promotions in Japan

Artists in Japan were paid to publish cartoons on Twitter praising “Frozen 2” without disclosing that the messages were promotional. Why should you care? Now Japanese consumers are skeptical of any ad about “Frozen 2,” so the rest of the ads that were set to be released to promote the movie have been paused. In the U.S., a rule was put in place by the Federal Trade Commission in 2017 that says influencers must clearly state when a post is promotional. Japan does not have a similar rule, so ‘stealth marketing’ is a common practice. While it is legal in other countries, this example shows the importance of being truthful and open with your audience on social media. If your brand is not upfront about intentions and tactics, the risks aren’t just limited to influencer marketing, but can undermine all promotional material. [Wall Street Journal]

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