dez reads. Bank Branches, Mickey Mouse Fight, Podcast Palooza, and More
Welcome to Dez Reads, a recap of everything interesting that our team read and discussed amongst ourselves this week.
The reputation and influence disciplines are extremely complex; understanding and impacting public opinion requires an intense curiosity about the world. We are always reading smart, in-depth reporting and analysis of trends in culture, media, business, personal finance, politics, and entertainment to better understand key trends impacting public perception and persuasion. Our aim is to share the most insightful and thought-provoking highlights with you on a mostly weekly basis.
This is not a rundown of the “news of the day” (i.e., political campaign updates or S&P 500 returns), but rather our analysis of less-covered stories with some of our insights. It’s designed to be interesting, different, and insightful and give you a look into the type of news that we consume and synthesize into our day-to-day work for clients. Hopefully, in time, our readers will submit news and commentary that they find interesting as well.
Finance + Commerce
Maybe there’s a ceiling on the digitization trend in personal finance and the rise of FinTech as a replacement for traditional in-person banking. That seems to be JPMorgan Chase’s belief, as the bank is swimming against the industry tide of shuttering brick-and-mortar bank branches. In 2018, when the consensus was strongly in favor of closing physical locations, JPMorgan announced it would open hundreds of new branches. The company has opened 650 locations since then and intends to add 500 more in the next three years.
The strategy has worked in many ways; the company has nearly doubled its customer deposits to over $2 trillion and is now the biggest deposit holder in the country. And while JPM’s emphasis has been on wealthier (i.e., more lucrative) new customers, it has seen dividends across demographic and socioeconomic groups. Even Gen Z says a key factor in choosing a bank is the ease of access to a physical branch; meanwhile, a JPM branch in a lower-income part of Harlem has exceeded the company’s goals for deposits and other customer metrics.
Customer adoption of fintech platforms will undoubtedly continue to rise, from payment software like Venmo to online lending and banking apps. But with its focus on hiring locally and incorporating art from the local community, JP Morgan is clearly betting on the desire of consumers to form meaningful in-person relationships with their financial advisors.
– Josh Culling
Amid Disney partnering with other networks to create a streaming sports giant, it’s also in a proxy fight with activist investor Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management. Activist investors and proxy fights are particularly novel anymore. Publicly traded companies find themselves at odds with agenda-driven shareholders all of the time.
What is novel, however, with the Disney-Peltz proxy, is how the fight is being waged. Trian and Disney have launched dueling websites to make their cases and sway shareholders as well as the public. Trian’s Restore the Magic has underperformed vs. Vote Disney, a 100-year track record of creativity, innovation, and growth. This is a trend that all corporate affairs pros should be paying attention to (I know the smart ones are, after discussing this with a veteran Fortune 500 communicator).
Unlike more traditional and snooze-worthy methods of mailed letters and in-person meetings, these sites provide detailed arguments and data, are interactive, and allow for real-time tracking, analytics, and updates. At the very least, it’s a more dynamic interaction for shareholders and rubberneckers; at most, it could be the new gold standard for investor relations, setting a precedent for how proxy battles are fought and won. File this under a new era of digital warfare in corporate governance.
– Anne Marie Malecha
The World Cup Final Is Where?
FIFA recently announced that the 2026 World Cup final will be held at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, beating out AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This is a much-sought-after honor, given that New Jersey Governor Murphy expects the World Cup games to bring in upwards of $2 billion worth of economic value. It is an interesting choice, considering that every time I go out to MetLife Stadium, nobody is particularly excited about the stadium or really that happy to be there. However, given the number of hotels and public transit around the area, I can understand why they picked it.
At the very least, this might be the one thing that actually gets NY/NJ politicians to invest in public transit, with NJ Transit set to spend $35 million on designs for a new transit route from Secaucus to the stadium.
As a Jets fan who was in attendance during the first game of the season and personally watched the turf field at MetLife ruin any hope for the Jets this season, I hope they get new grass installed before 2026.
– Mike Bova
Joe Rogan’s Mega-Million Spotify Encore
Joe Rogan signed another blockbuster deal with Spotify this week worth $250 million, according to the WSJ. Enjoy his content or not, Rogan’s show has a massive audience, with some estimates putting that number at 11 million listeners per episode. That is astronomically higher than the average audience size of the largest cable news program in the country (Fox News at 1.7 million) and 3 million more than the average viewers of the most-watched network news channel (ABC World News Tonight at 8.1 million).
While Rogan’s podcast is the biggest, his long-form style is a growing trend that audiences are reacting well to. Nuanced conversations instead of bite-sized cable news clips are growing in popularity along with the podcast format, as people can pick and choose when and where they listen to their favorite shows or just search through a wide variety of topics to learn more about. I personally have a rotating schedule of about six podcasts (news of the day, sports, finance, and every once in a while, a random topic that looks interesting).
Another interesting wrinkle in this new deal is that it gives up the exclusivity that Spotify previously had with Rogan’s show, meaning his show will be coming to Apple, YouTube, and anywhere else you may listen. There is no doubt that it will bring more viewers/listeners to these platforms. Time will tell if these new platforms will have to deal with similar controversies that Spotify dealt with when they first signed Rogan (Musicians vs. Spotify: Artists Who Have Joined Neil Young in Removing Their Music) – my guess is no. Still, at least they will have a case study to go off of.
– Mike Bova
There are no signs of the dust settling in the streaming wars, as Fox Corp., Warner Bros. Discovery, and Disney are launching a new joint venture to consolidate the three companies’ live sports programming on one new streaming platform.
I’ve been following the live sports streaming market with interest as both a sports fan and a media watcher. Live sports are really the only appointment viewing left, as on-demand video is ubiquitous, and bingeing content in bulk is most viewers’ preferred approach to watching television. This new venture will bring sports broadcasts on ESPN, ABC, Fox, TNT, TBS, truTV, and various college conference networks under one umbrella.
The three companies involved control roughly 85 percent of sports television rights, with significant exposure to the NHL, NBA, MLB, and college sports, including the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Will we eventually get to a world where I have one streaming option that houses all of my beloved sports teams, or will I still need Amazon for the Detroit Tigers and Peacock for the Michigan Wolverines and Nottingham Forest, in addition to this new platform for the Lions and Red Wings?
– Josh Culling
The Economist: Lawn bowls is in decline. Can it make a comeback?
England’s most storied sport, lawn bowling (think of bocce ball with a posh accent), has been a national pastime since at least the 1300’s. The sport – for centuries, a natural network for friends and competitors to gather – is now, like many community institutions around the world, in rapid decline. Some experts project that the sport will disappear altogether by 2050.
This is taking place in spite of England’s demographic shift to an aging society. Previous generations took up the sport as they got older; that demographic advantage has evaporated as people continue to become more isolated from one another. The decline of lawn bowling seems to be a microcosm of a broader global trend in which the algorithm replaces the need for physical community. It appears this phenomenon is not restricted to only Gen Z.
– Josh Culling
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