Trippant Takeaways.

A great big grappling merger, LeBron’s Starbucks order, the latest AI buzz, seven-a-side football and videogames at the movies are all in the latest batch of Trippant Takeaways: our round-up of stories that tease out communications trends in sport, tech, entertainment and culture.

The BBC on the new WWE and UFC merger

This week, agency giant Endeavor pulled off the sports industry deal of the year so far when it brought professional wrestling’s WWE into a new $21 billion entity with the UFC, the leading combat sports promotion.

The venture — which is still unnamed but will carry the ticker symbol $TKO — has generated intrigue and excitement about the combined storytelling potential of mixed martial arts, sports entertainment and Hollywood razzle-dazzle. Wider sponsorship integration and bumper media rights sales could well be on the horizon. So what will the implications be for talent and fans?

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Photo by Joe Hernandez on Unsplash

The Athletic on LeBron’s new coffee shop

When basketball megastar LeBron James opened the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio back in 2018, it was with a pledge to help overlooked members of his hometown community thrive in the world that lay in front of them.

Now he is extending that into the workplace, with his foundation supporting a new branch of Starbucks in Akron that provides job-training certificates alongside a meaningful hourly wage.

Futurism on Buzzfeed’s AI content project

With ChatGPT apparently getting so good that people want to stop it, speculation about the commercial impact of artificial intelligence shows no sign of slowing.

Buzzfeed recently confirmed plans to investigate AI’s potential, a move that triggered its share of worries about the future of journalism, and jokes about ‘Which sentient technology are you?’ quizzes. The company insists it will try and find creative use cases but its early efforts — according to reports — have yet to strike a spark.

The Drum on getting through the pitch process intact

For some in comms and the creative industries there is nothing — not even the rise of the bots — that provokes the same anxious fatigue as pitching for new business. Luckily, The Drum has assembled a panel of agency experts to explain how to approach the process with a spring in your step.

The New York Times on Gerard Pique’s second life

Late last month, 92,000 people flocked to Barcelona’s Camp Nou to see some football. That seems unremarkable — until you realise they were watching the finals of a seven-a-side tournament that had featured a mystery player in a luchador mask.

The Kings League was an attempt to reimagine the world’s most popular sport for the Twitch era. It was also the latest bit of blue-sky thinking from former FC Barcelona captain Gerard Pique and his Kosmos investment vehicle, whose hit-and-miss record is not diluting their experimental zeal.

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Photo by Prapoth Panchuea on Unsplash

The New York Times on the legacy of Tetris

With a new movie from Apple TV+ putting a dramatic spin on its extrication from the former Soviet Union, video game classic Tetris is back in the popular conversation.

In truth, it never really went away, and its falling blocks have influenced everything from publishing to psychology.

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Photo by Nik on Unsplash

The Big Picture on the future of video game movies

It’s-a-him: Mario is back in cinemas after a 30-year absence. Developed for Nintendo by heavyweight animation studio Illumination, the Super Mario Bros Movie is already on course to be one of the biggest box office hits of 2023.

Creatively, it is much more conservative, child-friendly and competent than the weird and notorious live action bomb that dropped on cinemas in 1993. That has led grown-up critics to look for ways to keep the more literate parts of their brain occupied — with some unusual results.

Still, as film podcast The Big Picture suggests, it should also prepare the ground for videogame IP to replace comic books as the next dominant wave in popular culture.

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