(Bloomberg) — At Bloomberg Pursuits, we love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to globe-trotters in all of our luxury fields–food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate–to learn about their high-end hacks, tips, and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers.
Christine Chiu, 39, is the co-founder and co-owner of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery and the Regenerative Medicine Aesthetic Institute. She’s a philanthropist and haute couture collector who recently co-starred in Netflix’s riff on Crazy Rich Asians, the reality series Bling Empire.
Her favorite airline is Air France, specifically its La Premiere cabin. “I fly everywhere La Premiere, even if I have to connect,” she says, “I haven’t seen another airline that kind of checks off all of the boxes perfectly well: friendly, upbeat attendants, great food, great selection of wine and Champagne, and convenience factors like driving you up to the plane.”
Her annual flying schedule calls for at least 100,000 miles in the air. “If you think about how many fashion weeks there are in a year–add all of them up and on top of that, family trips. And then, if you add both private and commercials, that number gets some rather large quickly.”
She lives in Los Angeles and Malibu with her husband Gabriel and almost-four-year-old son, another Gabriel, though he’s better known as Bling Empire breakout Baby G.
Here is her advice for those who roam the world, along with her hacks for high-end travel.
Even on a plane, there’s no reason to look slouchy.
“I really love [Air France’s] La Premiere pajamas, and I actually collect them. I have a spare bedroom that is, like, filled with them. They usually collaborate with a designer, like Christian Lacroix. The cut is great, which I really appreciate. They rarely carry extra small and small, just medium and large. So now I call in advance to make sure they have an extra small on board. You also don’t want the bottom of the pants to drag on the dirty airplane floors. Even though you’re sleeping on a plane, you still would prefer not to be dressed in a potato sack.”
Don’t be one of those people who always wants to be seen around Fashion Week.
“Avoid visiting a city during Fashion Week unless you’re absolutely attending. That is when the entire world congregates in one place, in one tiny space, and so everything is going to require reservations, and hotel prices will be double, triple. So, if you’re not physically attending a fashion show, you’re best to avoid Fashion Weeks altogether, and travel before or after.”
Chiu mistrusts travel agents, so here’s how she finds hot restaurants and bars.
“I, unfortunately, have had really bad experiences with travel agents. So I don’t rely on them. What I usually do is, I call the hotel concierge first and have them send me every possible activity, like tours or museums. I’ll book one of them, then call the business and get ahold of someone, and I’ll say, ‘By the way, before the museum, I’m thinking of having lunch. Where would you recommend?’ Or, ‘After our tour I’m thinking of having a cocktail, where do you think has the best view?’ I really like to ask the business owners–99% of the time, they’re very open to say, ‘Make sure you try this.’ They do want to help each other out.”
How to become friends with the hotel concierge: Ask them about themselves.
“I always ask a concierge how long they’ve been at that hotel and how long they’ve been in the area, because that’s how relationships are established. I think Plaza Athenée and Le Bristol in Paris, both those hotels have phenomenal concierges. This just happened in January: I wanted a private tour of the Louvre, and this was the night before, and I had an hour to spare. I was with a friend; he’s never been to the Louvre. I want to take him on a private tour at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa privately. And the Bristol was able to set it up with less than 24 hours.”
Here’s how to score a private tour of the Sistine Chapel.
“Some museums or historical sites or venues, they usually have a foundation or a restoration program that you can donate to, and then you work with them to see what’s possible and what’s permissible with that organization. And we’ve taken private tours of the Vatican Museum and at the Sistine Chapel, and then we had lunch in the inner sanctuary garden that way. That’s such a special visit that I really didn’t want to share with hundreds of thousands of people, if I could avoid it. I think during the pandemic, especially–just for crowd control and safety during Covid–that was more of a priority to take private tours like that.”
You don’t ever need to set foot in an airline terminal, even when flying commercial.
“So, I’m sure you’ve heard of Private Suite or PS at LAX: We’ve been using them since they started, and we rely heavily on them getting out of, and coming back into, LA. It’s like a hotel next to the international airport where you go in, they have a full menu, full bar, lots of amenities. You can get your hair blown out, your nails done, you can have a massage. And when it’s time to board, they will ask you if you’d like to be first to board or the last to board, and they will drive you up on the tarmac directly to the plane. And then you get into your seat. They check in your luggage for you, and the best part of PS to me is the private [Transportation Security Administration]. I recently started to notice that a lot of the airlines have their own special added first-class service where they do pick people up straight from the plane at other airports. Take JFK. I’ve been coming on my own to New York and not flying private a lot recently. You don’t have to ever step foot in JFK airport when you land: They have a special parking lot where your driver comes in, pre-screened, and they grab your luggage, load your car, and you go from the plane to your car and on to your hotel. It’s Delta VIP Select or American Airlines Five Star Select. I was a little upset with American Express Centurion, because I called and described this to them, and they had no clue about it–and they’re supposed to know about this stuff. I found them by Googling ‘VIP services,’ and lo and behold, airlines do have them. There are all sorts of additional travel services you can add on, like an à la carte to your flight.”
Related: Nine Secrets I Never Knew About Airports Until I Worked at LAX
Turn your flight into a wine bar, Chiu-style.
“I like to do my own wine tasting on the plane. When you get a menu and you have all of the wine selections, I have no shame. I ask for 10 glasses and I take a little of each one, and that’s another opportunity for me to learn about the wine. I tell them I want to do a wine tasting because my vacation has already started. It started with the wine tasting.”
Travel insurance isn’t the only thing she won’t travel without.
“Always get extraction insurance from a company like Global Rescue that sends medically equipped air, ground, water personnel and transportation to remove you from a place should there be an emergency. It’s not super expensive, and there’s an app and always a phone number to call. One of our friends was stuck in a country where there was a civil uprising one morning, and they were scrambling and in severe distress; they told us to do it. In recent years we’ve found it to be really, at least very helpful for peace of mind, because I know one time we had gone to Morocco, and we stopped in Barcelona and there was political unrest. The fact that we had options was very comforting.”
If you want to hit the ground running when you arrive anywhere, do this.
“A travel ritual of mine: Always have the hotel do the unpacking. A lot of time is spent just unpacking all of your luggage, and I think it breaks the energy and the vibe of the excitement of being in a new place. And you’re like, ‘Oh, now have to unpack everything and hang everything up.’ And before you know it, you’ve spent an hour, hour and a half, two hours, taking everything out of your luggage, and then you’re exhausted and you just want to lay down. I think it’s a simple luxury that you can outsource to the staff, so when you step foot in the new city, you can go exploring. Just tip them well, of course.”
Chiu’s favorite hotel has its own cows.
“My favorite hotel room would be the house we stayed in at Blackberry Farm. it’s a beautiful home–beautifully decorated, super lux–but in a very Americana comfortable way. I think the entire property is just really remarkable and special, especially to be shared as a family. Whether it’s milking cows in the morning, or goats, or doing a farm-to-table meal prep with a chef, to fly fishing and going to the shooting range, archery, there’s just so much to enjoy, to take in. Especially since we’re urban folks, it makes me happy to see Baby G thrive in a more natural setting. You get all of the trimmings of the farm but in a very, like, five-star luxurious way.”
Chiu says it’s important to fit in when you travel. Here’s how.
“I tend to go to Google for images of current fashion trends or attire of wherever I’m going, because I like to blend in as much as possible. Not Instagram. Instagram’s tricky, because it’s a lot of tourists, so I use Google. The reason is that you tend to have better service and reception from others when you maybe even look a little bit more like them. This is from personal experience. I went shopping in Paris, it was my first trip. I think I was right out of college or maybe just barely in my last year of college, and I was wearing plain old running Nikes and maybe a fanny pack before fanny packs were in. I looked like a tour bus just dumped me right on Avenue Montaigne. And unfortunately, I did have a little bit of a Pretty Woman moment. I learned very quickly that you can make very small adjustments to your attire, and somehow you just get things done faster and better. It’s like when you go to the Vatican, and you cover your modesty situation. You just do a little research.”
Never be as gauche as planning just one thing at a time.
“I plan everything in advance, and then I’m not shy about canceling. Of course, I notify the venue or the restaurants or the activity coordinator; I make sure I understand their cancellation policy. But my strategy with travel is to book up my entire day and then see how I feel, because I always have that backup plan. Sometimes, I have double restaurant reservations and I see what I feel like to eat for lunch or for dinner. I always have multiple activities planned. And then we’ll see what the weather looks like today–maybe it’s raining, I’m not going to go hiking today, so we’ll cancel that tour, but we’re going to go into a museum for a private curated session. So, I book out my day to the fullest, like a crazy person, and then I edit.”
This is her No.1 parenting hack when traveling.
“Any parent of a young child knows that it’s really a schlep, because there’s a lot of stuff you have to bring: a stroller, car seat, toys, books, stuff to keep them entertained, extra clothing, diapers, materials. Your luggage count just doubles, triples, when you have a child. So I think that makes private travel very much appreciated: Your valet takes you right up to the plane and loads all of your stuff, and the kid goes on with you. And if there’s Wi-Fi, they’re watching a movie or they’re running around in a plane. Every airport has airport butler service–you just have to find the number and get it done. On the rare occasions that they don’t, I usually ask the airline if I can book a trolley or, like, a cart, so that way you’re not schlepping through airport terminals with a child and a stroller and a car seat and all of the toys. You have that little cart, with a little beeper, pick you up right when you get off the plane.”
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Linda Savage’s son and young family had outgrown the cosy annex behind Linda’s house in Sound, and so moved to nearby Wrenbury, leaving the cottage empty. In June of last year, Linda advertised the property as a holiday let on Airbnb.
Pear Tree Cottage is now one of the top rated Airbnbs in the county, rated 5 stars out of 5, and Linda has been dubbed a ‘superhost’ by the holiday letting website. She spoke to CheshireLive about what makes her cottage special and gave her top tips on being a great host.
“The cottage was sitting empty for a little while and we were trying to decide what to do,” said Linda. “Last June we decided we’d try it on AirBnB – we didn’t know whether we were in the right area for people to come. We thought it might just be coastal areas or more touristy area, but we never looked back – it’s been fully booked nearly all the time since then.
“You take for granted what’s around you. It was only when I started to write the welcome brochure, and I thought: ‘There’s so many places for people to visit from here.’ It’s not that far from Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and Shrewsbury; there’s a wide area that they can visit from here.”
Linda discussed the reasons her cottage is so well reviewed: “I think it’s partly because it’s quite homely – everybody says it’s like a home from home. It’s not overdone, it’s clean and tidy but it’s not overly contemporary. I think cleanliness is a big thing, it looks all nice and clean, the beds are comfortable, and it’s a lovely spot that we live in; we’ve got views over the Peckforton Hills to the front, and at the back we look over open fields.
“We’ve taken it for granted: When people come and they’ve been living in the centre of Manchester or Liverpool or wherever, they just enjoy being in the peace and quiet of the countryside and have some quiet time – being able to light the log fire, sit and read a book, not have to rush about.”
Linda also shared her top tips for any prospective Airbnb ‘superhosts’: “Do your research into places in the local area that you can recommend,” said Linda. “We tell them [the guests] where the local shop is; local things that appeal to all people, like Bewilderwood for the young children, Chester is a nice town, Nantwich is a lovely town in its own right as a place to visit; there’s Dagfields for people who like pottering with antiques and bric-a-brac and stuff, so you put all that in your welcome book.
“Make sure you’ve got clear instructions for the appliances, so they know how to use them. There’s nothing worse than not knowing how to use the microwave.
“Make sure it’s clean and well presented, and that you’ve got everything that you think people would need. You look at it from your own eyes – what you’d like to have.
“We put a welcome basket in there, with bread, eggs, cereals, some jam and a couple of packets of biscuits. We put a pint of milk in the fridge with some butter and some ham and cheese, because some people might have arrived and be later than they expected to be, and it’s nice that they can just make a cup of tea.
“We’ve got tea and coffee in the cupboard with a tin of beans and a tin of tomatoes and a tin of soup, so that if they come they don’t have to rush straight out and find somewhere to get a snack or be able to make a cup of tea. After a long drive, a cup of tea and a biscuit is just what you need to revitalise.”
Derrick Hodge prefers to let his work speak for itself, and lately, it’s been a chorus heard ’round the world.
“I try to latch on to the spirit of the project,” said Hodge, who moved from Los Angeles to Denver in 2015, during a Zoom interview from his basement studio last week. “I just get out of the way.”
Despite (or perhaps because of) that humble approach, Hodge has produced, written for and played with some of music’s biggest names, including collaborations with Kanye West and Herbie Hancock, while winning a pair of Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album in 2013 (with the Robert Glasper Experiment, for “Black Radio”), and in 2014 (“Black Radio 2”). He’s got four nominations total.
This year, he’s been no slouch, either, arranging music for the Super Bowl and, now, the Sunday, March 27, Academy Awards telecast.
The 42-year-old quietly nabbed the latter job a little over a month ago, and has mostly been finishing it from his home in Denver before heading to Los Angeles for rehearsals.
Even as he will appear on stage, conducting the Oscars orchestra, all that work was prepared “right here off I-70,” he said. It’s the same for the “Lift Every Voice” segment he arranged for Super Bowl LVI, which was performed by Mary Mary and the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, during the pregame (prior to the national anthem) on Feb. 13.
Still, the Oscars is one of his heaviest jobs in a career larded with them. Hodge has been given free rein to find his own way to honor the music of 2022’s nominated films as he chooses, and that’s more important than ever, he said. There will be lush strings and brass that evoke Oscars history, but also modern touches that keep the ceremony relevant in the 21st century.
“Composing during the (pandemic and quarantines) has meant these Oscar-nominated composers feel like they’re doing a lot of these things in secret or silence, so it might mean more to them this year,” said Hodge, who also has composed for several documentaries and narrative features.
Hodge has plenty to work with, between nominated scores from Hans Zimmer (“Dune”) and Germaine Franco (“Encanto”) and original songs by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Dixson (the “King Richard” song “Be Alive”) and Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (the title track for the latest James Bond flick, “No Time to Die”).
The breadth and depth would intimidate some producers, but much like Hodge’s hectic schedule, it’s a comfort zone. Even as he comes off producing shows for Christina Aguilera and H.E.R., and arranging music for the 2022 Oscars telecast, Hodge has begun work on the Hollywood Bowl’s 100th-season opening show on June 3. The massive showcase will feature Gwen Stefani, Branford Marsalis, the Los Angeles Philharmonic (premiering a new, custom-written John Williams piece), ballet dancer Roberto Bolle and more.
“What’s motivating right now is having the ‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Parallel Mothers’ themes in my head and writing at 2 a.m.,” he said. “I want there to be some surprises that make people say, ‘Oh, he really went there with it!’ But I’m always working on the next thing as soon as I get it.”
Born just outside Philadelphia in Willingboro, N.J., Hodge’s musical life began at age 6 as he explored gospel, jazz and other musical styles, he said. His larger career was sparked at age 18 by working with musician Jill Scott, whom he idolized, in Philly while helping pioneer the neo-soul sound. He followed his instincts and left Scott’s tour, however, to attend Temple University, where he studied jazz composition and performance.
He’s since collaborated with not only Kanye West and Common (on the latter’s album, “Be”), but also Quincy Jones, Q-Tip, Mos Def, Timbaland, Lupe Fiasco, Andre 3000, Sade and Terence Blanchard.
Hodge, who also served as artist Maxwell’s musical director for a decade, was the first musician to bring hip-hop to the National Symphony Orchestra and Kennedy Center, and has been a fierce advocate of documenting and highlighting Black musical history. Since 2013, he has been on the roster at storied jazz label Blue Note, where his third solo album, 2020’s “Color of Noize,” continues to seamlessly fuse record scratching, vintage synths and double-time percussion, along with mellow, hypnotic grooves.
“Noize” was produced by Don Was — head of Blue Note, and a musician and producer who has worked with The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, as well as late Denver jazz legend Ron Miles, who died last week. Granted, Hodge isn’t the only Blue Note luminary to ever call Colorado home, but he’s still invested in learning more about Denver’s growing music scene.
It’s just that, between the pandemic and his typically busy schedule, he hasn’t been able to dive into it as much as he wants. He held a party in December that turned out dozens of local musicians, and that overflowed into an impromptu jam session outside his Green Valley Ranch home.
Being more rooted has allowed Hodge to find an “innocence and abandon” the past couple of years, throwing out preconceptions about work and creativity as his travel obligations melt away. He’s ignored his studio setup at times to compose simple melodies on his piano, a 1901 Ludwig that belongs to his wife’s family.
“Honestly, being at home has allowed me to work out so many things I probably couldn’t have otherwise,” he said. “It’s been a blessing, because the more you try to be yourself, the more people latch on to that. … I tend to work in the moment of being honest about what the universe brought my way, whether that’s a performance right here in the city, or playing on (Glasper’s) ‘Black Radio,’ or producing something millions of people are watching.”
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The crypto economy got the red carpet treatment at Super Bowl LVI.
The biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, looking to demystify their businesses for tens of millions of Americans, secured commercials during the big game, which cost up to $7 million per 30-second spot. Some enlisted famous faces.
Larry David appeared as a clueless time traveler who turns up his nose at great innovations (The wheel? Eh. The lightbulb? “Can I be honest? … it stinks.”) before pooh-poohing a pitch for crypto company FTX. The tagline: “Don’t be like Larry. Don’t miss out on the next big thing.” Later, LeBron James schooled his younger self about taking chances in an ad for Crypto.com.
It was widely anticipated that big names would back crypto and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, during the big game. So much so that ahead of the match, cryptocurrency trading platform Binance dropped videos featuring the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler and music artist J. Balvin warning viewers against celebrity crypto endorsements.
“On Feb. 13, you’re going to hear some of the biggest names telling you to get into crypto,” Butler said. “But they don’t know you or your finances. Only you do.”
The star-studded ads were the latest example of the entertainment industry’s growing interest in everything blockchain. In the past year, there’s been a preponderance of actors, musicians and athletes talking up digital currencies and or NFTs — unique digital records authenticating ownership of an item, tracked on a digital ledger.
Movie studios are auctioning off crypto collectibles to promote new films. Musicians are releasing songs, albums and memorabilia as tokens, giving fans access to bonus material. Theme park designers are talking about bringing famous characters and fantasy worlds into the metaverse. DJs are planning totally virtual concerts and parties.
And of course, there are the celebrity crypto endorsements. Last year Matt Damon appeared in a Crypto.com ad comparing electronic currency investment to nautical exploration and space travel, with the slogan, “Fortune favors the brave.” Paris Hilton showed off her Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Reese Witherspoon has touted crypto assets on Twitter. “In the (near) future, every person will have a parallel digital identity,” the “Big Little Lies” star tweeted in January.
Critics have balked at the spectacle of the rich and famous encouraging viewers to gamble on a risky and speculative market that has been plagued by grifters. Skeptics say the cryptocurrency and NFT craze has primarily benefited wealthy early adopters — the true believers — who could afford to get in early.
Analysts see clear parallels in the crypto space to the dot com bubble. That earlier hype cycle reached a pop culture apex at the 2000 Super Bowl. That game featured ads by companies like Pets.com, which quickly collapsed.
“My problem is, when 98% of these NFTs will go bust in the next couple of years, it will just crush a lot of the small investors,” said Anindya Ghose, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “If you’re Matt Damon or Paris Hilton, you can afford to lose 5% of the net worth. But for many small retail investors, five or 10% of your net worth is a nontrivial loss.”
A-listers repping brands and products is nothing new, of course. But selling crypto and NFTs is more awkward than pitching for typical consumer goods, because the ideas are still foreign to many consumers. It’s not quite the same as pitching for potato chips and energy drinks, said Columbia Business School professor R.A. Farrokhnia.
“How are you going to explain nonfungible tokens in a way that’s understandable and portrays some of the risks attached to it?” Farrokhnia asked.
Broad skepticism hasn’t stopped ambitious artists from experimenting in the growing crypto universe.
DJ and producer Steve Aoki, one of the most vocal proponents of NFTs and the possibilities of blockchain technologies in entertainment, has set up an online platform dubbed A0K1VERSE for holders of Steve Aoki NFTs.
He describes the project as a digital version of a membership-based social club, like Soho House, with different tiers of experiences, including access to collectibles, concert tickets and virtual performances. At a certain membership level, fans could collaborate with him on music, he said.
“I call it the preseason,” Aoki said. “There’s a lot of different ways to think about where we’re going. The exciting part now, for creators like myself, is that we can actually start building the architecture.”
Entertainers and companies are trying to learn and prepare for a future when audiences live more of their lives in virtual worlds, said Adam Friedman, an executive at Creative Artists Agency.
“We’re well past the notion of anything in the space being a cash grab,” Friedman said. “It’s about what makes the most sense strategically for the client, their business and their brand.”
Some in the industry think there’s potential to mine NFTs for movie and TV show ideas, treating them as I.P., or intellectual property, similar to comic books, video games and toy lines. Last year, CAA signed Jenkins the Valet, a digital character created by Tally Labs, for representation in books, film, TV and podcasts.
“At the end of the day, it’s I.P., and if the I.P. is compelling, and clients and the market find it compelling, there’s a lot of opportunity,” Friedman said.
Kat Graham, an actress and artist who makes music under the name Toro Gato, released her latest album exclusively as a series of NFTS. Graham said she sees the format as a way to circumvent an exploitative record label system.
Graham worked with the NFT marketplace YellowHeart, which helped the rock band Kings of Leon release an NFT version of its record in one of the first major uses of the format by a mainstream artist.
Graham said selling NFT albums gives her a more direct connection to fans than streaming, which smaller artists have despised for years because of paltry royalties.
“It feels like we have our own club, like we have our own community,” she said. “I hope that this space will open up more artists.”
NFTs started to pick up steam during the COVID-19 pandemic amid the rise in popularity of physical collectibles, such as baseball cards, as alternative investments.
But the newness and volatility of the crypto economy has made it a hotbed for swindlers and intellectual property theft. Early this month, a website called HitPiece allegedly auctioned off music NFTs without artists’ permission, infuriating musicians and leading the Recording Industry Assn. of America to call the platform “little more than a scam operation.”
A class action lawsuit last month accused Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather of artificially pumping up the price of the cryptocurrency EthereumMax. The coin lost about 97% of its value in seven months, leading critics to call it a “pump and dump” hustle.
The Department of Justice this month charged a married couple — one of whom moonlighted as a YouTube rapper — in a $4.5-billion crypto money laundering scheme.
Such incidents have damaged the sector’s reputation in the general public. Some believers recognize the issues, but see them as a natural part of a work in progress.
“There’s going to be bubbles, there’s going to be bad actors, there’s going to be scams,” said Jeremy S. Goldman, a Los Angeles-based partner at law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz who specializes in blockchain issues. “But that doesn’t negate the fact that underlying this is an incredible new innovation that has the ability to bring tremendous value to new creators and to existing creators.”
Studios have tried to clamp down on artists selling NFT versions of their work featuring Marvel and DC superheroes. Miramax sued Quentin Tarantino for planning to auction images of his handwritten “Pulp Fiction” script. Tarantino’s lawyers argued that the director had the right to sell the pages as NFTs under his original contract.
Meanwhile, movie studios and TV networks are dipping their toes in with their own NFTs.
Warner Bros. has issued tokens based on its “Matrix” and “Space Jam” franchises ahead of new film releases. AMC Networks enlisted NFT production company Orange Comet to issue computer-animated “Walking Dead” clips as tokens. And Sony Pictures and AMC Theatres created “Spider-Man” NFTs for members of AMC’s movie ticket subscription program and investors.
To promote “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” Sony Pictures auctioned 10 “Ghostbusters” vignettes as NFTs on the OpenSea marketplace leading up to the release. The Culver City studio also issued thousands of digital collectible Mini-Pufts (tiny Stay Puft marshmallow characters) to appeal to the more everyday consumer.
“We’re in a phase where you have these crypto whales and these people that understand the technology that are buying these, but there’s not a lot of those people,” said Jamie Stevens, Sony Pictures’ head of consumer products and licensing. “So we really wanted to create an opportunity for our fans to be able to own a piece of it.”
Some studios also see an opportunity to take what they’ve done in physical theme park attractions and bring that into the digital world.
Jenefer Brown, who runs live and location-based entertainment for Santa Monica film and TV studio Lionsgate, envisions a world where fans can enter the world of the “John Wick” action franchise and book a room at the Continental Hotel, the action series’ neutral refuge for the criminal underworld.
“We’ve dusted off concepts that we’ve come up with, from a physical standpoint, that just couldn’t be built for a variety of reasons, that absolutely could be built in a digital environment,” Brown said.
Buying NFTs is complicated, and experts predict that more consumers will embrace it only as the technology becomes easier to use and understand.
Right now, the market is frothy with capital pouring in, and many analysts expect it to contract. However, the technology itself is not going anywhere. “NFTs are here to stay,” Goldman said. “They’re just going to evolve, as technology always does.”
The second Super Bowl of the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday will feature a variety of first-time advertisers, including a slew of financial technology and cryptocurrency players, plus the return of travel ads.
The game, which airs Sunday on NBC, will include more than a dozen first-time Super Bowl advertisers, including shopping-rewards platform Rakuten Rewards, children’s budgeting app maker Greenlight Financial Technology Inc., mobile sports gambling operator Caesars Sportsbook, at-home Covid-19 test provider
Cue Health Inc.
NV, which makes electric-vehicle charging technologies.
NBC has said it sold multiple ad slots at $7 million for 30 seconds of airtime.
The influx of first-timers continues a trend from last year, when a group of marketers that did well during the first part of the pandemic bought their first Super Bowl commercials. This year cryptocurrency and gambling are coming on strong.
Cryptocurrency exchanges including
Coinbase Global Inc.,
FTX and Crypto.com will make their Super Bowl debuts as they try to become household names. Their ads will have to engage both crypto superfans and a broader audience that is less familiar with the subject.
“If you do that right, everyone’s smiling or laughing, or at least entertained at what you’re putting on during the game, but there’ll be a smaller subset of that audience that definitely researches more, goes online and figures it out,” said Lee Newman, chief executive of the
of Cos. advertising agency MullenLowe U.S.
The Cue Health commercial won’t be the only ad with a theme of health and wellness.
Planet Fitness Inc.’s
first Super Bowl ad shows actress Lindsay Lohan putting her party days behind her, while an ad from medical technology company
features singer Mary J. Blige encouraging women to get medical screenings.
It makes sense to see health and wellness reflected in the Super Bowl ad roster following two years of a pandemic, said Ari Lightman, professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.
“We’re hopefully getting out of a very scary time, but there’s a lot of other issues that need to be tackled,” Prof. Lightman said.
After travel marketers took a break from the Super Bowl last year, marketers like
Booking Holdings Inc.
Expedia Group Inc.
bought ad time this year as travel picks back up.
Advertisers in the first Super Bowl of the pandemic in February 2021 were tasked with setting the right tone for an event that took place before widespread vaccination against Covid-19 and soon after the divisive presidential election. Some ads in last year’s game alluded to the pandemic, though primarily with oblique references and humor. Jeep ran a somber two-minute commercial acknowledging the division in the country.
This year’s Super Bowl advertising appears to be more standard fare.
“What we’re seeing in the Super Bowl advertising that I’ve seen so far is really the tried and true approaches that have always worked in the game to entertain people and engage them and be effective,” said Mr. Newman of MullenLowe. “They’re babies, they’re puppies, they’re big physical humor, cinematic productions, nostalgic music, those sorts of things.”
An ad for Frito-Lay’s Doritos and Cheetos Flamin’ Hot varieties, for example, will include a rendition of the 1980s hit “Push It” and the voices of musicians Megan Thee Stallion and Charlie Puth emerging from the mouths of a songbird and a fox, respectively.
“There was really a more serious tone in last year, and at that time, we continued to really provide what we thought was a moment of release,” said
senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay North America, which is also running a commercial for Lay’s potato chips. “In some ways, [this year] was staying the course for us. Maybe for others it’s going to be a pivot.”
A teaser for MullenLowe’s ad for Morgan Stanley’s E*Trade trading platform hinted that the brand’s spokesbaby, once a Super Bowl staple, will return after nearly a decade in retirement.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s
Budweiser is bringing back its famous Clydesdales in this year’s ad, titled “A Clydesdale’s Journey.” It features a horse becoming injured, then eventually recovering enough to run again, and concludes with the words, “In the home of the brave, down never means out.”
Daniel Blake, group vice president of marketing for Budweiser and Value at AB InBev, said the company wanted to use the Clydesdale as a symbol of strength and perseverance. “I don’t think there’s any more unifying and hopeful message for Americans than reminding them that we always bounce back in this country,” he said.
Write to Megan Graham at megan.graham@wsj.
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