The Weekender

The Weekender: For Cupid or Capital?

The Weekender


  • $2.64: The amount of return on the City of New Orleans’ investment in Mardi Gras for every $1.00 spent
  • 12: The amount of times Taylor Swift appeared on the Super Bowl broadcast (it would cost $12.4 million to purchase that much airtime in ads)
  • 46%: The percentage of Americans that say inflation affected their Valentine’s Day plans
  • 96: The age of the inventor of Pop-Tarts; who passed away this week
  • 1971: The year the first President’s Day was observed
  • 3,569: The number of points scored by Caitlin Clark so far in her career; the most by any NCAA Women’s Basketball player

Social Media Led to Something Positive? Read it here first, folks: Heart-Wrenching Stories, Viral Awareness, Revolutionary Action

Did you see this viral video last summer? It’s hard to imagine the damaged wheelchairs and raw, emotional footage leading to widespread reform. But it did. At the end of January, the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s (MDA) #AccessibleAirTravel campaign received the 2024 Public Affairs Council Advocacy Innovation in Communications Award.

Strategic Elements collaborated with MDA to execute the campaign, highlighting the need for accessible air travel reform through impactful video storytelling and data-driven digital strategies. SE’s award-winning digital and creative team captured the heart-wrenching stories of advocates Mindy and Madison, who navigated air travel to share their message with lawmakers in DC. Their stories sparked astronomical results, receiving viral awareness from millions of viewers and jumpstarting instant action in accessibility reform.

What’s more, the videos had a real impact on both public policy and private companies’ actions.

This is the power of storytelling and a nuanced digital campaign. Through these efforts, a major airline made training program adjustments to increase inclusivity with people who have disabilities – literally in response to the videos. Further, the videos caught the attention of the Transportation Safety Administration, resulting in MDA and TSA forming a partnership to establish training for officers interacting with people with disabilities.  If that wasn’t enough, the U.S. House of Representatives included favorable and critical inclusions for people with disabilities in the FAA Reauthorization Package.

Now that’s using social media for social good.

Watch the Videos Here

3 out of 435

This week, Democrat Tom Suozzi won the New York special election to replace former Rep. George Santos, leaving the GOP with an ever-slim majority of three seats in the House. What does this seat-flip mean? First, governing will likely be more difficult for the House GOP this Congress – especially with an increasingly vocal Freedom Caucus. Second, Republicans may be struggling in the suburbs. Traditional primary campaign issues for Republicans (education, crime, and social issues) don’t always bring home the bacon in suburban voting booths. Suburban voters also tend to hold less-positive sentiments toward former President Trump, which may help Democrats keep the important demographic on their side.

That said, the race may also have uncovered a winning immigration posture for Democrats: if you can’t beat them, join them. Suozzi agreed with Republicans that the border needs to be secured, and he called for bipartisan compromise on the issue, supporting the bill that inevitably failed in the Senate last week.

While losing the seat is a hit to the Republican majority’s ability to govern, it may serve as an important bellwether for the general election this November (or maybe it doesn’t).

Read More at NPR

The Potential; The Game; The Taylor

Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl attendance was bound to bring new eyes to Super Bowl LVIII – and the game itself met the moment with magic. With 123.7 million total viewers, the game was the most watched telecast in history, overtaking last year’s Super Bowl’s record of 115 million. The Super Bowl had Mahomes performing incredibly well – including leading the Chiefs to beat the 49ers 25-22 in a dramatic overtime finish. This is more than just a win for the Chiefs and Swifties; this was a win for television.

“Big Night” TV events have been on the decline for years. This year’s Grammys had around 12.5 million viewers, far fewer than the award show of 1984, which captured 51.6 million viewers (in large part tuning in for Michael Jackson’s eight awards). The recent UK coronation ceremony only drew the attention of approximately 10.3 million Americans. While the immense viewership is a win for TV generally, it is par for the course for the NFL. The league routinely breaks its own records, as the last 15 Super Bowls have generated more than 100 million viewers.

Let’s be clear – Taylor Swift dating Travis Kelce has not been proven to be a psyop as some seem to believe (and will continue to believe as long as the notion of the possibility of a shadow of doubt could be imagined that it is). It has, however, been a tremendous boon for both Swift and Kelce’s careers. The real winner of the Swift-NFL crossover may be the League itself which generated $331.5 million of equivalent brand value for the NFL and the Chiefs.

Read More at The Washington Post

One Human Day is One AI Year

ChatGPT continues to improve faster than ever before. Included in developing ChatGPT’s abilities is a new memory feature that records users’ searches and information. This data will help the software cater more to its users and make the system more personalized for what they need. Some users wonder, though, if this proposed memory feature is at the cost of their privacy.

For now, rest easy. Using the memory feature will be optional and is still being tested by a small group of users. OpenAI, the parent company of ChatGPT, vows to protect personal privacy with its software while fighting against bias and misinformation.

ChatGPT’s improvements will make it more efficient for its users, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has big dreams for its future. He told Axios that ChatGPT’s newest model will “do a lot, lot more” than current models. The software will continue to be more personalized to its users and values. Shortly, Altman hopes the technology will make online tasks more efficient by sorting emails and other tasks. In the long run, Altman believes ChatGPT has potential for medical advancements and even the military (cue the ominous Terminator music). 

Read More at Axios

Is Valentine’s Day for Cupid or Capital?

If you and your partner celebrated Valentine’s Day, you likely contributed to the expected $25.8 billion being spent by U.S. consumers in a single day. 53% of consumers indulge on the holiday and people aged 25-34 are the most active. While love is in the air, profits are raining down on the companies that are selling affection for affluence. The industry also tracks consumer spending habits to ensure their targets are aligned with Cupid’s arrow.

While heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are still being bought, many lovers are opting for experiences together versus gift-giving. Planning travel, sharing a board game night, and spending quality time together are more prevalent than teddy bears adorned in red hearts. This shift is creating new opportunities for retailers, like grocery stores selling Valentine’s Day cook-at-home kits or discounted bottles of prosecco.  

Read More at Forbes

International Spotlight

As Ukrainian military and civilians alike defend their homeland against Russian aggression, their fighting capacity depends largely on whether the U.S. government can come to a consensus. As Ukrainians wait, ammunition reserves dwindle. Soldier Oleksander Kucheriavenko says, “We use ammunition now only if the situation is critical.” Deeply understanding his country’s reliance on U.S. funding, he wears a Republica of California arm patch on his uniform. In a modern war fueled by drones, airstrikes, and international funding operations, waiting for consensus across the sea is putting Ukrainians in a difficult position.

Ukrainian forces’ chances of more U.S. aid made progress last week as 22 GOP Senators supported a $95 billion national security package to aid Israel and Ukraine. The bill, a stripped version that would have originally included border security measures, passed with some bipartisan support, but Ukrainians shouldn’t celebrate just yet. House Speaker Mike Johnson has publicly criticized the package due to its lack of border security measures, and House GOP Members experience waning support for costly Ukrainian support.

Read More at The Wall Street Journal

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