The long read: Focus groups make us feel our views matter but no one with power cares what we think
In the early 1950s, the Betty Crocker company had a problem: American housewives liked the idea of cake mix, but they werent actually buying it. And so the company approached Ernest Dichter, a Viennese psychologist who had pioneered a new kind of market research, and asked him to find out why.
At the same time, the relatively new processed-food industry was determined to push ready-made food. Frozen foods had enjoyed a boost during the war because of tin rationing, and the first frozen ready meals were launched in 1952. More women were working outside the home, making the convenience of these meals especially appealing. Incomes were rising, too, during this postwar period, which gave families more money to spend on convenience items, and on trying out new dishes. Not all such products were new cake mix, after all, had been around for decades but in this postwar climate, the food industry assumed there would be a much larger market for them. And yet, cake mix sales were slow.
Dichter, who called his work motivational research, set out to answer the question using a relatively new tool: the focus group. Dichters groups for Betty Crocker diagnosed the trouble women felt guilty that they were not doing the work of baking the cake for their families. Serving prepared foods made them feel inadequate.
Focus groups, which became widespread in the 50s, could illuminate the psychological complexities that blocked womens buying habits. In one focus group from this period, a woman made a Freudian slip: Especially when Im in a hurry, I like foods that are time-consuming. Her slip of the tongue, in the context of the conversation, revealed the womans conflicted feelings about convenience foods, even though she seemed to embrace them. As the moderator, Alfred Goldman, would later recall in a 1964 article for a trade journal, that slip inspired the other women in the group to talk more openly about how guilty they felt over serving prepared foods to their families.
Dichter was creative at coming up with solutions to the problems that focus groups revealed. As Bill Schlackman, a colleague of Dichters, would recall years later, in this case the solution was to assuage the housewives guilt by giving them more of a sense of participation. How to do that? He smiled. By adding an egg. With this simple adjustment to the recipe, sales of cake mixes took off. It was an early focus-group marketing triumph.
Focus groups came, over the course of the last century, to shape almost every aspect of our lives, from cake mix to Barbie dolls. Almost nothing is launched into the world without a focus group. Since the late 1980s, they have affected even the political discussions that ultimately determine what kind of society we can have, not to mention the toothpaste we use, the soap operas we watch, the news media we consume, and the video games we play. Focus groups have also helped to create and nourish a seemingly boundless culture of consultation, in which ordinary people weigh in on just about everything, before the people in charge make a decision. Aided by social media and other technologies, the scope of such consultation has, in recent years, expanded its reach with breathtaking speed, allowing companies to aggregate the views and feelings of millions of potential customers.
Kristie Love's TripAdvisor review on her vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico was deleted.
Image: Darren Carroll/Getty ImageS
TripAdvisor has apologized to a sexual assault survivor after an investigation revealed the website had deleted posts alleging assaults at resorts in Mexico. The belated apology comes seven years after the attack.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shared the story of Kristie Love, who had posted on TripAdvisor about her rape at an Iberostar resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Love said she had her post removed several times.
“Since 2010, when the forum post was removed, our policies and processes have evolved to better provide information like this to other travelers. As a result, when recently brought to our attention, the victim’s initial forum post was republished by our staff,” TripAdvisor wrote in a statement.
But it wasn’t just Love. The several-month-long investigation revealed more than a dozen travelers had their posts on TripAdvisor removed for similar reasons. In fact, three people reported being sexually assaulted or raped at the same resort in Mexico and subsequently had their TripAdvisor posts deleted.
The problem stems from TripAdvisor’s content moderation. Other crowdsourced review sites like Yelp and social networks like Facebook and Twitter face similar problems with deciding what violates their policies. Mistakes arefrequentlymade. TripAdvisor also tries to manage any hearsay, but the policy appears to inconsistently enforced.
“To me, it’s like censoring,” Wendy Avery-Swanson told the Journal Sentinel. She had a post about her blacking out from alcohol served at a swim-up bar removed.
TripAdvisor provided several different reasons at the time for why their reviews were removed. One instance claimed the post contained language or was about a topic that was not “family friendly.”
According to TripAdvisor, the site does allow for negative reviews and stories like Love’s and Avery-Swanson’s. Specifically, its interpretation of the family-friendly guidelines has changed since Love’s review was removed in 2010.
“We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far.”
“At the time, we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family friendly language. More than 7 years ago that meant all language needed to be G-rated. … We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable in an email.
“A simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault and rape,” the spokesperson continued.
It’s worth noting that TripAdvisor’s business model in part relies on users booking through its website. TripAdvisor denied any link between how its content guidelines are applied and its commercial relationships.
TripAdvisor makes money when people travel; reviews reporting rapes and other crimes mysteriously disappear: https://t.co/9icIEFLJOh
TripAdvisor boasts more than 535 million reviews on hotel, airlines, restaurants, and local attractions. Unlike other companies that help with direct booking like Airbnb, airlines, and hotels, TripAdvisor doesn’t verify that reviews or forum posts are written by people who actually experienced what they wrote about.
The tech company follows its own publishing guidelines and employs about 300 people to moderate posts and ensure “content integrity,” a spokesperson told the Journal Sentinel. TripAdvisor also relies on software to detect fake reviews.
The alleged censorship may fall outside of TripAdvisor’s offices, however. As the Journal Sentinel notes, TripAdvisor allows non-employees known as “trusted community members” to remove posts. The company declined to disclose who they are or how they are chosen but said they are “trusted, highly rated users and volunteers drawn from the global travel community.”
TripAdvisor added that these privileges can be removed if a member is “overly promoting” their businesses. These volunteers are unable to remove reviews but do moderate forum posts.
After the Journal Sentinel report, TripAdvisor said it is making changes. For example, Love’s post has been reinstated. The site is also creating a “badge” notification that will alert users to health, safety, and discrimination issues. This designation will be based on media reports and other credible sources, TripAdvisor said.
“We’re currently going through additional quality assurance testing, and expect it to be launched before the end of the year,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable.
This post was updated with additional insight from TripAdvisor.
Inclusive marketing is a technique that consumers may not be able to pinpoint, but for many businesses, it’s the secret ingredient behind creating ads that set out to empower people and create confidence amongst consumers.
Inclusive marketing is marketing that doesn’t specifically target one demographic nor does it rely on the traditional stereotypes we set up amongst ourselves and with other people
On the other side of the coin, not all brands utilize inclusive marketing correctly. There have been a handful of brands over the past several months who have tried to take a stab at inclusive marketing, but to their dismay, their message was not received by the masses in the way they had hoped (looking at you, Pepsi). However, when executed correctly, inclusive marketing has the potential to make serious impacts for any business of any size.
Nigel Barker, internationally renowned photographer whos been highly esteemed for his 17 seasons as photographer and judge on the hit TV show Americas Next Top Model, has spent majority of his career working on marketing campaigns and advertisements for a plethora major fashion, makeup, and beauty labels. So who better than Baker to help break down the ins and outs of inclusive marketing?
Nigel stopped by #BizChats, Mashable’s business show, to share with us the five simple ways any business or brand can appeal to a more diverse audience in an authentic way.
1. Use philanthropy, there is a charity for everyone
Barker says: “The most important thing is to think about a cause what’s most important to you.” Baker shares his experience with working on a Nine West campaign with a social target on breast cancer. Using the technology of FitBits, they tracked every step that was taken by models. The advertising campaigned garnered more than one billion views within a month.
2. Be social, throw parties to bring people together.
Barker says: “As a company, it isn’t’ just the advertising campaigns, it’s about being with the people and bringing them together. It’s the unconventional, yet important side of marketing and opportunity for people to be in a community.”
3. Use health and fitness as a common ground
Barker says: “Working out with people is a new great way to break down boundaries, market your personality to other people, and work together.”
4. Music is one of the best ways to bring people together
Barker says: “Music is probably the number one way to touch someone. It’s nostalgic, it speaks to both the past and the future. The sounds resonate with in ways that are special.”
5. Humor is a powerful way to disarm people and help them see your point
Barker says: “[Humor] is probably one of the most powerful tools we have. One of the most important things in life is having a giggle. We don’t do it often enough. Having a sense of humor and being able to poke fun at yourself is important.”
Missed the show? Don’t worry! Re-watch the episode in the video above.
WATCH: Woman uses Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino to spread some magical news to her husband
Watson will help doctors make tricky diagnoses in cardiology.
Image: Shutterstock / Guschenkova
Getting treatment for heart disease depends on a diagnosis from doctors, who can occasionally miss the subtle signs of trouble.
IBM thinks it can help those doctors through artificial intelligence namely its Watson technology famous for besting Jeopardy champions and researching cancer. The company announced the introduction of its newest feature as part of its broader expansion of Watson Health’s medical imaging initiative, which will now include 24 healthcare organizations around the world.
This is a different challenge for Watson. For the first time, IBM’s technology will be looking over medical data that includes images such as ultrasounds, x-rays and other types of visuals used by medical professionals. Watson will first be employed in figuring out which patients need follow-up care for aortic stenosis, or AS.
Watson’s new application in imaging will add to those fields. AS, the first imaging application for Watson, is a condition in which the heart’s aortic valve narrows and blocks blood flow to the rest of the body. It is one of the most difficult conditions for cardiologists to diagnose, said Jaime Murillo, a cardiology specialist at Sentara Healthcare.
Watson could help Murillo look at an image of a mass and figure out if it’s a tumor, an infection or just an anatomical quirk. The healthcare system in North Carolina is one of IBM’s partners in developing imaging technology.
“If you have an ultrasound image of a heart, the quality [of care] could be affected by how good the technology is and also by variations in how different physicians may interpret those images,” Murillo said. “With Watson, we’re looking at standardizing and improving accuracy of diagnostic interpretations that result in better patient care and more accuracy.”
“Expect white papers.”
Watson Clinical Imaging Review will be the first cognitive imaging offering from IBM. The company has been working on developing cognitive imaging for over a decade, said Anne Le Grand, vice president of imaging for Watson Health.
“What we’re doing is looking retrospectively at medical records. We’re helping clinicians go back and look and say, ‘Are there patients we may want to bring back in?’ Le Grand said.
Watson will read cardiologists’ medical reports, remember data from other sources of medical information and analyze images of patients’ hearts. IBM tested the technology during a pilot study. The company declined to provide any numbers about how many patients were flagged for follow-up care by Watson other than to say it made a “big difference.”
Apart from identifying patients who might need follow-up care, Watson will look across patient populations to figure out similar patients who could benefit from follow-up visits, even if their ultrasounds or other images weren’t analyzed by Watson. Then, Watson will move into predictive care, helping to recommend treatment for patients who could be at risk based on the computer’s AI analysis.
“The response is twofold: improving the quality of diagnosis and the consistency of diagnosis,” Le Grand said.
Watson’s imaging technology has potential beyond heart disease including for breast cancer, for pulmonary and brain disease, and for ocular diseases like diabetic retinopathy. In the near future, IBM plans to expand Watson’s cardiovascular imaging work from AS to nine other cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks, valve disorders, cardiomyopathy or disease of the heart muscle and deep vein thrombosis.
Murillo also sees potential for Watson in congestive heart failure and cardio-oncology, or for patients who need care for both heart disease and cancer. AS came first after Tanveer Syeda-Mahmood, chief scientist for medical sieve radiology at IBM Research, pursued the field for Watson’s first imaging application when her father was misdiagnosed over a decade ago.
The technology will be available to most U.S. healthcare practitioners later this year.
IBM is bullish on this technology. The company thinks it has major potential for practitioners across medical fields.
Designing clothes for people with disabilities such as wounded veterans is attracting fashion school students, but far fewer mainstream brands
Caitlin Robbins always struggled to find clothes for her dad that didnt make him look and feel frumpy. As someone with ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease which impacts peoples ability to walk, talk, and ultimately, to breathe her dad wanted comfortable and tailored options. But most of the clothes she could find that didnt restrict his movement, such as pants with an elastic waist and pullover tops, only made him look awful.
My father was always particular about fashion; he wanted to look nice and dignified, says Robbins, a fashion design student. I wanted to design him outfits to be visually different, functional but still stylish.
Robbinss experience points to a seemingly untapped opportunity for apparel makers to serve people with disabilities. One in five American adults, or 53.3 million people, report having disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trouble with mobility, cognition and living independently are the three most common types of disabilities.
Finding well-fitting clothes isnt just about looking good. Research shows that a lack of functional and tailored clothes can make people with disabilities feel excluded during job search or at social events.
So far, the market is mostly served by small companies such as Buck and Buck in Seattle and Silverts, which designs clothes for customers with rheumatoid arthritis, recovering from strokes or in wheelchairs. Nike has also dabbled in this market with a line of sneakers, after getting a request from a 16-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. The shoes use a wraparound zipper rather than shoelaces, and they also come with a larger opening to make it easy to get in and out of. After an online, limited release last fall, Nike has since launched new basketball and running shoes with the same design.
Per consumer request, Lands End has offered modified swimsuit designs for women with a mastectomy since 1995. The modification includes a raised neckline and armhole of a conventional swimsuit to cover scar tissue or sensitive skin due to radiation. The bra contains a prosthesis pocket and no underwire. Lands End designers personally meet with breast cancer survivors to help guide the design, according to Michele Casper, vice president public relations at the company.
And, for a while, J Crew also used to stock a green walking cane for those needing additional support.
While the market for this type of specialty clothes is small and difficult to quantify, its attracting growing interest, especially in design schools. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched Open Style Lab in 2014 to bring together students in design, engineering and occupational therapy to create clothes for people with disabilities. Researchers at MITs International Design Center have created fashions to include fewer sensory triggers such as fraying, rough zippers and scratchy tags for children and adults with autism because of their sensitivity to certain textures and colors.
When Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police in July, I was devastated, confused, frustrated and didn’t know what to do. I did know I wasn’t going to march. I marched after Eric Garner’s life was taken by police with an illegal chokehold in 2014. I protested. I chanted. I stopped traffic. I was convinced “a change is gonna come.” And then, once again, no one was held accountable. I felt helpless.
In July, I spoke to coworkers and texted with friends. I embraced my family. We were all searching for answers. Who has a voice that would be heard? Who could catalyze the change needed, as the government stumbles to act? Who could galvanize the people, while the people struggle to be recognized?
The answer: corporations. Yes, the very corporations that lobby the government for profit-driven interests. The same corporations that “We the People” readily support with our dollars.
In today’s 24/7 marketplace, the influence these giant corporations wield helps shape the economy, the laws and to a certain extent our behavior more than ever. It’s time the people behind these brands stop lurking around the issue and become ancillaries in the stand against racial injustice.
“Corporations are led by people, and these people have powerful voices.”
It’s true the responsibility of corporations is, for the most part, to shareholders first and consumers second. They already have their corporate social responsibility causes picked out for the year. Plus, the days when we knew local storeowners by name and could hold them accountable are long gone. Right?
Wrong. Corporations are not faceless. They are led by people, and these people have powerful voices. They just have to make exercising it a priority.
“Business is the most powerful force in society, and we have the opportunity to use this power to support a fair and inclusive democracy,” wrote Ben & Jerrys CEO Jostein Solheim in an April blog for The Huffington Post.
The ice cream makers even went a step further, posting on the company site, “Systemic racism is not a problem that African Americans can solve alone … this is a problem that will take everyone to solve, not just those who are under threat from it.”
Ben & Jerry’s stance is strong, admirable and appropriate but most of all, it is clear. It matter-of-factly states what the problem is and who needs to be involved to solve it. The question now becomes: How will these values seep into the consciousness of other corporations and propel action?
Some companies have attempted to take a stand for racial justice, but so far the impact has been minimal.
On July 8, days after the shootings of Sterling and Castile, music streaming service Pandora posted a tweet in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the backlash was immediate. It was accused by many of its followers of supporting a “terrorist group.” In response, outraged subscribers canceled their subscriptions, and posted screenshots of their cancellations on social media.
That same day, Facebook put up a #BlackLivesMatter sign in front of its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, listing the names of victims while CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked for peace on his personal page. Google employees held vigils, and the official Google account sent out a supportive tweet.
A few advertising agencies released statements through their websites and social accounts, only to have their sincerity questioned because their hiring practices did not seem inclusive.
Each of these corporations expressed solidarity with the movement, something that will continue to be appreciated. But the time for releasing public statements has passed. Corporations must move forward with actionable solutions.
Where is the coalition of companies taking a hard line stance? How many companies are removing corporate funds from states and cities if they dont move toward police reform? Which corporations are confronting their omnipresent lack of diversity? This certainly wouldnt be the first time corporations have delved into matters of human rights.
The precedent has been set
Businesses have publicly supported social and environmental causes before, with LGBTQ rights being a prime illustration.
In March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Virginia Rometty and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff all joined more than 80 other business leaders in signing an open letter asking North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to repeal a law that bans transgender people from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities. These same companies, along with other Fortune 500 companies, were the ones that outwardly supported the Marriage Equality Act of 2014. They petitioned, marched, lobbied and donated to overturn Proposition 8 in California and it worked.
The NBA also formed a partnership with GLSEN, a leading LGBTQ activist and education organization, to initiate other pioneering endeavors for LGBTQ causes. WNBA players were issued T-shirts by the league after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA representatives marched on behalf of both leagues in the New York City Pride March.
While LGBTQ equality rightfully garners a lot of attention, it’s not the only issue corporations tackle. For instance, a few trailblazing companies have also taken gender inequality and equal pay into their own hands. Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg is widely known for her advocacy for women in the workforce. When Ellen Pao was the CEO of Reddit, she eliminated negotiations during the hiring and recruiting process as an approach to fix the pay gap. Salesforces Marc Benioff and Intel CEO Brian Kzanich have pledged millions to the cause as well.
“It’s time to step up and do more.”
“Its time to step up and do more … Intel wants to lead by example,” Kzanich said in 2015 regarding the company’s diversity initiatives.
CEOs and the corporations they represent are starting to see supporting social issues as a company value a sense of duty that should permeate their entire business.
Many participate in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives supporting causes like STEM education, climate change, childrens health, organic farming and breast cancer research.
It’s the right thing to do.
But corporations need to address the other glaring human rights issue. The one where a black man gets shot and the video of his murder surfaces on the internet. The one where justice takes a backseat and then the cycle repeats itself all over again.
Keep the movement moving
Corporations should take direct action in order to effect change, or support others leading change efforts.
For example, nonprofits and even insurance companies have been working directly with law enforcement. They provide hands-on training to show officers how to minimize use-of-force incidents and formulate action plans. Insurance companies, like Travelers Insurance, likely do this because police departments rarely have to pay when sued, as the liability usually falls on insurance companies. Those insurance companies, then, look for preventative measures that can help mitigate their costs. Despite being economically motivated, its effective in terms of reform.
“Supporting Black Lives Matter shouldnt require contemplation; it should be a moral obligation.”
Google, meanwhile, has chosen the path of supporting others who are making an impact by aligning with nonprofits that are moving the cause forward through tech. In November 2015, Google invested more than $2 million in grant money to three San Francisco Bay-area nonprofits working for racial and social justice. Since Googles mission is to make information useful and accessible, it makes perfect sense that part of that money went toward the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which developed an app that tracks reports of incidents involving law enforcement.
Another opportunity for corporations to make a change comes by looking internally. Its hard for a company to take a position on racial injustice if it isn’t trying to fix its own issues in recruiting, hiring and retaining black people.
Look no further than the paragon of corporate buzzwords: “diversity.” It’s commonly accepted that diversity creates better ideas, plugs the talent gap and is good for companies bottom lines. However, this ideology often does not translate into more opportunities for black people to enter the corporate workforce.
In 2015, the number of black people employed compared to white employees was abysmal, especially in tech. Since last year, the numbers have slightly increased, but the gap is still egregious.
“Tech CEOs can make aggressive statements that they support Black Lives Matter,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told the Guardian in July. “But the reality is that until we improve the number of people of color inside tech companies, we really have not done our job.”
Actions speak louder
The responsibility to fix societys ills shouldnt fall on corporations alone. But through their voice, power and influence, they can force action.
Just last month General Mills put stipulations on advertising agencies that participate in the creative review for its business. The company is requiring agencies to have staffs with at least 50 percent women and 20 percent people of color within the creative department.
“If you are going to put people you serve first, the most important thing is to live up to it and make it a key criteria,” Ann Simonds, General Mills CMO, told AdAge.
In other words, supporting Black Lives Matter shouldnt require contemplation; it should be a moral obligation, one that demands at least the same fervor, passion and action that corporations put toward other human rights issues.
Now is the time for corporate America to do its part. It’s a matter of life or death.
Apple’s Chief Operating OfficerJeff Williams presents Apple’s vision for CareKit.
Image: MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Apple wants to improve how medical records look and are shared. To do so, the iPhone maker has acquired Gliimpse, a personal health data startup, Fast Company reported Monday.
Based in Silicon Valley, Gliimpse offers a platform for patients and medical professionals to manage health records. These virtual profiles can include documents, photos and journal entries, and can be saved as one transferable file.
The company seeks to unify how medical data is received and visualized.Gliimpse pulls information with the patient’s approval from more than 1500 health centers, pharmacies and labs. The basic service is free.
Apple did not deny news of the acquisition, which reportedly happened earlier this year. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said in a statement to Fast Company.
Anil Sethi founded and funded the startup in 2013. In the 1980s, he worked as an engineer for Apple. A serial entrepreneur, he previously created health startups Xlipstream and Pinch Bio.
We all leave a bread-crumb trail of our medical ‘stuff’
His sister’s battle with breast cancer inspired him to create Gliimpse, an effort to create a single electronic health record.
“We all leave a bread-crumb trail of our medical ‘stuff’ our health data and records that we cant take with us when we leave a doctors office or clinic,” Gliimpse’s website reads.
Gliimpse “is your personal health history, in the palm of your hands,” .
Sounds not unlike Steve Jobs’ first presentation of the iPhone, where he touted the ability to access your calendar, texting, email, photos at the “palm of your hand.”
The startup is Apple’s first known acquisition in the digital health industry but follows in several moves the company has taken to offer medical services. In 2014, Apple released HealthKit as its own effort to collect and visualize medical data via different devices. In 2015, Apple introduced ResearchKit, software for health professionals to track studies.
Apple CEO Tim Cook highlighted the company’s interest in health care in an interview with Fast Company earlier this month. “When you look at most of the solutions, whether its devices, or things coming up out of Big Pharma, first and foremost, they are done to get the reimbursement [from an insurance provider]. Not thinking about what helps the patient,” Cook said.
Apple, not burdened by insurance providers, is moving to capture at least a part of the $9 trillion in annual global health spending.
Earlier this month, Apple hired Flipboard cofounder Evan Doll to serve as director of health software engineering.
Rumors that Donald Trump has given up on winning the election in favor of a media plan B make sense, but its been tried before with disappointing results
After a long, hot and sorry-looking summer it may look like the game is up for Donald Trumps presidential ambitions. But thats only if you believe the tycoon-turned-presidential candidate is actually running to win the White House.
Trumps poll numbers have slipped as the American election departs the local primary circus and enters the national campaign. Trumps trademark combination of bombast and braggadocio trounced his Republican opposition, and still draws crowds at rallies, but the polls suggest Trump has alienated the wider electorate he needs to win the presidency.
And according to an increasingly popular theory in media circles, thats exactly how he wants it. Trump, so the hypothesis goes, has given up on winning the presidential race and is now simply priming the pump for an upcoming media venture for the alt-right demographic, as the Trump-loving alternative to mainstream conservatism is now known. Fox News is old hat say hello to 24/7 Trump TV.
Ever since Trump declared he was running for president, skeptics have sensed this was all a vanity campaign aimed at building his brand. The recent reshuffle of Team Trump has only fuelled speculation: Roger Ailes, Fox Newss disgraced former chairman, is now advising Trump while he fights off accusations of serial sexual harassment (charges Ailes vehemently denies). And earlier this month, Trump appointed Steve Bannon, Goldman Sachs banker turned film-maker and former chairman of the self-identified alt-right Breitbart News website, as his campaign CEO alongside veteran pollster Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager.
The media certainly thinks its spotted the upcoming twist. What if Trump and Breitbart could team up, raise some money from outside investors, and bring aboard some of the television executives who built Fox News? asked the New Yorker last week. Vanity Fair recently reported Trump is looking to monetize his audience through a possible mini-media conglomerate. The New York Times reported this month that Trump and his son-in-law, New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner, have been mulling over a media holding. CNNs chief media watcher Brian Stelter recently reported: What he might wanna do is launch a new television channel, or launch a new giant website, a new subscription service, he might be thinking about a media enterprise.
I think hes definitely working to cement his brand with an audience, said NPR media reporter David Folkenflik.
Theres certainly room out there for a Trump media brand. As Fox News expert and New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman told the Guardian recently, the landscape is shifting in rightwing media thanks to Ailess fall and Trumps rise. Fox was this amazing unifier of all the strands of conservatism together [Now] its kind of a Lord of the Flies situation where everyones trying to kill each other.
As Trumps dysfunctional, bare-bones campaign continues to come up short in the polls, a media plan B makes sense. His alt-right base is too small to win an election, but big enough to make him some money afterward.
But this is a plan that has been tried before, and with less than impressive results.
The most obvious forerunner was Sarah Palin, seen by many as Trump 1.0. Here was another rightwing outsider who, after the 2012 election, attempted to cash in on her stardom with the Sarah Palin Channel, a digital network run with the web-based TV company TAPP.
Palin charged $10 per month to ride the straight-talk express, with sub-channels including New Life TV recharge your relationships and grow closer to God Live with Joan Lunden a vibrant community for womens wellness and breast cancer patients and survivors and K-Love TV Christian Rock, Inspiration, and Family Values.
The lineup failed to find an audience and by 2014 the Sarah Palin Channel was racking up a mere 36,000 views a month, considerably less than many gardening blogs. The URL now leads to SarahPAC.com, the home of her political action committee that raises money for conservative candidates.
Not far behind Palins debacle, and also produced by TAPP, was The Herman Cain Channel launched by another Republican presidential wannabe who briefly rose to national prominence. CainTV died in 2013 but then came back as a low-grade news blog framed by ads plugging Cains books and radio shows. CainTV delivers it all in an Informed, Inspirational, and INtertaining way, goes its slogan. It too has failed to evolve into the conglomerate the former pizza magnate had likely envisioned.
Finally, and perhaps most ominously for Trump, theres the demise of conservative radio and TV star Glenn Becks post-Fox News venture, The Blaze. If anyone was likely to pull off a digital media empire targeting the audience of (relatively) young, pissed-off, conspiratorial conservatives, it should have been Beck.
The former Fox host wanted to engineer a fresh news channel from digital beginnings, a scrappy upstart with enough populist appeal to challenge the mighty Fox brand with none of the legacy costs of mainstream media. What he produced was significantly less than that, and its been bleeding money and staff for years. The Blaze laid off 40 employees in April, as traffic and advertising revenue continued to wither away.
The legacy of new media ventures further to the left is equally awful: onetime Democratic presidential candidate and vice-president Al Gores CurrentTV failed spectacularly, burning money to attract an audience it could neither find nor hold. It was taken over and rebranded by the deep pocketed Al Jazeera network in 2013, but after three very expensive years Al Jazeera America closed in April.
Trump would certainly argue he could do better. But building a media empire isnt as easy as burning down a political campaign. It requires serious money and a long-term strategy. These are not major turn-ons for the man who brought you 12-months of Trump Steaks and less than a year of Trump-brand water.
You gotta remember that Trump doesnt want to spend a lot of money on this, said Folkenflik. It costs a ton of money. Murdoch had to pay cable providers to put Fox on.
Even if Trump does commit to a more upscale venture, who would have the vision to run it? Ailes seems like an obvious choice until one considers that hes a 76-year-old in legal trouble and visibly poor health; and he wouldnt be able to start until his noncompete agreement with Fox News expires at the end of 2018. Still, even pushing 80, its hard to imagine him mellowing with age. He has scores to settle with James and Lachlan Murdoch, sons of his former mentor and partner Rupert, who were always looking to knock him off his throne.
I think Ailes would love a chance to once more stick it in the eye of the establishment and the Murdoch sons, Folkenflik said. But also, its not just that hes not a young man anymore, its that hes not in good shape. Hes not gonna be the guy in charge.
Meanwhile Bannon, like so many other Trump campaign officials, is in the midst of public and embarrassing scandals, dealing with allegations that he violated Floridas voting laws and reports of domestic abuse.
Still, those charges may not matter to Trump, who is already happily defending and working with Ailes despite his issues. And they certainly dont matter to Trumps base, who tend to dismiss charges against Trump and his campaign as PC thuggery and liberal media bias.
The final decision lies with Trump; he may jump at the chance to make a TV channel in his image, or he may just license his brand and let someone like Bannon or an Ailes-led brains trust take the reins. Trump loyalists like Fox News star Sean Hannity who makes enough money from his radio career to leave his perch at Fox News could possibly sign up to join a new splinter cell. Or maybe Trump will simply complete the marriage between his campaign and Breitbart News and put some money into an alt-right shop thats already doing well.
If the Trumps dont make it to the White House, the family patriarch may indeed start a new media conglomerate. But business history, not least Trumps own business history, suggests a low-risk, low-grade propaganda house rather than a sprawling new cable empire. As his buddy Ailes has no doubt warned him, talk is cheap but news is expensive.
Pfizer sees rare opportunity as it purchases maker of prostate cancer treatment Xtandi, adding to its portfolio in a lucrative medical area
Pfizer will pay about $14bn to buy cancer drug developer Medivation in a cash deal aimed at fortifying its hold in one of the hottest and most lucrative areas of medicine.
The New York drugmaker said on Monday that the acquisition would stock its product portfolio with leading treatments for the most common cancers in men and women by adding Medivations pricey prostate cancer treatment Xtandi to a lineup that already includes the breast cancer drug Ibrance.
Pfizers CEO, Ian Read, called the acquisition a rare opportunity to add an established treatment and a pipeline of drugs under development.
Medivation presents an attractive target as a specialty drugmaker focused on developing medicines for cancer and serious diseases with few treatment options. Earlier this year, it rejected a $9.3bn offer from the French drugmaker Sanofi.
Pfizer, best known for mass-market drugs such as the impotence pill Viagra and the cholesterol fighter Lipitor, began pursuing cancer drugs well after most industry leaders. It has been furiously playing catch-up, mainly through partnerships with university researchers and other drugmakers.
Last year, Medivation brought in $943m in revenue, mainly through Xtandi, which it sells in partnership with the Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma.
Xtandi has drawn attention from the public interest group Knowledge Economy International, which has protested at the $129,000-a year list price for the treatment. The US government covers much of the cost for Xtandi prescriptions filled under federal health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration.
Aside from Xtandi, Pfizersaid Medivation also had a promising pipeline of cancer drugs in late-stage clinical development. That includes the potential breast cancer treatment talazoparib and a potential lymphoma drug. Researchers are also studying Xtandi as a possible treatment for earlier-stage prostate cancers.
Pfizer said on Monday that it will pay $81.50 per Medivation share. Thats a 21% premium to the San Francisco biotechs Friday closing price of $67.19.
The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is targeted to close in the third or fourth quarter.
The Pfizer-Medivation deal is much smaller than Pfizers proposed $160bn combination with Irelands Allergan, a plan the drugmakers scrapped after the treasury department issued new rules this spring aimed specially at blocking that deal. It was structured as a tax inversion, which means Pfizers headquarters would move, on paper only, from New York to reduce the drugmakers US tax bill.
There has been a push from Wall Street for the drugmaker to break itself up into smaller companies so that it can grow faster. While hesitant, Pfizer has promised to decide the issue by the end of this year.
In the meantime, the company has focused on a series of partnerships and deals showing the company can grow as a whole. And company shares have begun to climb after years in the doldrums.