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. Rethinking public services

Studio dtttww (don’t take this the wrong way) has installed bright yellow, “public punching bags” in New York City. Why should you care? Studio dtttww created these punching bags to help tourists and New Yorkers alike manage the stress of living in NYC. Though the article doesn’t state whether they did “consumer research,” this is a great example of identifying a need for a group of people and creating a clever solution. [Matador Network]

2. What happens in Amsterdam…

As one of many initiatives to combat overtourism, tourists can now “marry an Amsterdamer” for a day. Why should you care? With cheaper flights and younger generations prioritizing travel over other material things, Europe has been inundated with tourists. Even destinations once “off the beaten path” are now mainstream attractions with crowds to match. While other cities are cracking down on tourist behaviors at major sites, Amsterdam has taken more of a “carrot” approach. This is an interesting initiative because it achieves the city’s goal of spreading out tourists throughout the city while also giving tourists what organizations like Airbnb recently realized was important to the modern traveler: local connections. And the fake weddings smartly help people lean into and get past the initial awkwardness of what amounts to a blind date tour of the city. [The Points Guy]

3. Supporting employees’ studies

High schoolers working at Walmart will now receive assistance to pay for SAT/ACT prep, flexible scheduling to accommodate test prep and up to seven hours of free college credit. Why should you care? This is one of the first CSR-type initiatives we’ve seen in awhile that wasn’t half-baked. While all new programs have their glitches, we want to applaud Walmart for doing their homework and understanding that just paying for prep wasn’t going to be enough. Sure, it would have still been a nice gesture, but the commitment to accommodating schedules shows they are serious about helping their employees. Consumers are more skeptical and discerning than ever before. Brands with good intentions can be believed to be sincere by ensuring they haven’t offered something that doesn’t actually solve the problem. [NPR]

4. Made-up news matters

According to a recent poll by Pew, Americans believe the issue of “made-up” news and misinformation is a bigger problem in today’s society than violent crime and terrorism (among other issues). Why should you care? Although people may disagree what “made up” news is, people agree it’s a significant problem. So what can brands or the media do about it? According to Pew, people don’t see journalists as responsible for misinformation, but they do hold them responsible for fixing the problem, one they believe is only likely to get worse. That’s a tall ask. Brands who can help media monitor made up news and correct the record will go a long way in building allies in the media by supporting journalists in fixing the problem. [Pew Research Center]

5. Circus sans animals

Circus Roncalli in Germany has replaced animals with holograms in their performances. Why should you care? The motivation behind the new spectacle was to address ethical concerns over the treatment of animals while still providing the quintessential elements of a circus performance. We like this because they didn’t throw in the towel when consumers criticized their product. Instead, they listened and found a creative and compelling way to provide an equally entertaining show. [Matador Network]

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