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. Spotify’s Wrapped

Spotify users’ 2020 streaming trends reveal that the challenging year also sounded differently. Why should you care? The pandemic changed everything, including the music and podcasts we were listening to this year. Spotify identified a surge in “nostalgia-themed” and “work-from-home” playlists as social-distancing guidelines were put in place. Listeners also gravitated toward wellness podcasts and nearly 65,000 new playlists were created by Spotify users this year titled “BLM” or “Black Lives Matter.”  [Spotify]

2. COVID-themed Holiday Cards

Holiday cards are reflecting 2020 – a year frequently referred to as a “dumpster fire.” Why should you care? Sending seasons’ greetings is a tradition this time of year, but due to the crazy year we’ve had, holiday cards are taking a more humorous turn – including casual or funny photos reflecting our stay-at-home realities. According to Shutterfly’s Jim Hilt, his design team “noticed a trend toward humor dating back to spring.” As we collectively say “good riddance” to 2020, these candid cards are sure to bring a smile. [USA Today]

3. Elliot Page

The Oscar-nominated star of the movie “Juno” and LGBTQ+ rights advocate has announced in a social post that he is transgender and introduced himself at Elliot (formerly Ellen) Page. Why should you care? The news makes him one of the industry’s most famous stars to come out as transgender, and in his statement, he vowed to fight for better trans healthcare. Currently starring in “The Umbrella Academy,” Netflix shared in a Tweet: “So proud of our superhero.” This story reminded us that “fluid identity” was one of the top trends we identified at the beginning of 2020. We shared that people have never felt more empowered to be their true selves and question societal norms. This is about going beyond binaries, erasing stigma, and embracing fluidity in all aspects of identity – gender, sexual orientation, personality, learning styles, special needs, cultural associations and more. [BBC]

4. Virtual Santa Visits

IRL Santa visits for the kiddos are being replaced with a variety of safe virtual experiences this holiday season. Why should you care? Although it won’t be the same as waiting in those long lines at the mall to see what your child does when you finally reach Santa Claus, you can still make that connection with him online. Multiple options are available: book a Santa Cameo personalized video, invite Santa to join your Zoom holiday party or join Macy’s “Santaland At Home” digital experience. [Mashable]

5. GIFS of 2020

The most-viewed GIFs of the year were overall very encouraging. Why should you care? Giphy recently shared the top 25 most-viewed GIFs of 2020 and what bubbled to the surface was loving, thoughtful and inspirational content. It’s not that surprising due to the pandemic that the year’s top GIFs include thank you’s, virtual hugs and safety reminders to social distance and wash your hands. [Giphy]

For more insights on communication and brand strategy, industry trends and more, subscribe today to the Weekly Buzz here.