Trippant Takeaways.

The WTA at 50, a week of bad Olympic headlines, Saudi Arabia and Chelsea, AI’s publishing deals, Pride and Juneteenth marketing, and Musk v Zuckerberg all feature in this week’s Trippant Takeaways, our round-up of stories on communications trends in sport, tech, entertainment and culture.

SportsPro on 50 years of the WTA

The Women’s Tennis Association is one of the most consequential sports properties of all time: an athlete-led breakaway that has gone on to benefit generations of female players and delight fans around the world.

This week, the biggest commercial success in women’s sports history turned 50. SportsPro editorial director Michael Long marks the occasion in style, with a five-part feature series that traces its firebrand origins, its rise and its global expansion, while looking at the trials ahead of it in a changed environment.

The BBC, the Washington Post and Inside the Games on a tricky Olympic week

The 23rd of June, in case your cards weren’t marked, is Olympic Day, but the run-up to that set-piece has been beset by tough headlines.

The Paris 2024 headquarters were raided by French police as part of an anti-corruption investigation, the International Olympic Committee expelled the long-dysfunctional International Boxing Association and will take over boxing’s Olympic programme, and Russia’s sports authorities are preparing to stage a rival event, the BRICS Games, next summer.

With just over 13 months to go until the next Games, can the IOC stay in control of its own narrative?


The Athletic on Chelsea, Clearlake and Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian spending on sport is still gathering momentum, as newly PIF-backed Saudi Pro League clubs lavish European teams with generous offers for their players.

One of the main targets for that attention has been underachieving Premier League side Chelsea, who have suddenly found buyers for a gaggle of unwanted players at the very moment they need cash to avoid financial penalties. That has raised eyebrows — not least as Chelsea’s majority owner, Clearlake Capital, has often dealt with PIF in the past.

So do these convenient deals suggest an undeclared Saudi interest in the Blues? Or are those fears founded in an oversimplified understanding of how private equity works? The Athletic’s Matt Slater looks into it.

The Financial Times on a landmark AI media deal

Tech companies and the news media have circled one another warily over artificial intelligence, but there are hints of the radical agreements that will bring the two groups together.

Axel Springer, one of the world’s most influential publishers, is understood to have proposed Spotify-style and annual subscription models that would allow the likes of OpenAI, Google and Microsoft to use its content to train ChatGPT-style large language models. That would hasten the integration of AI into news and real-time search — though it could have troubling consequences for working journalists.

Ad Age on brand etiquette around Juneteenth

Juneteenth, the African-American celebration of the end of slavery, has been observed for almost a century and a half. But when it belatedly became a US federal holiday in 2021, some brands were inevitably going to wonder how to communicate around it.

According to a survey by Collage Group, there is support among Black Americans for respectful and education-led Juneteenth-related campaigns, but there is also scepticism of more performative marketing.

CNBC on Bud Light and Pride marketing

One occasion in which brands are more experienced — if not always more skilled — in activating is Pride Month.

For advertising heavyweights gathered in the south of France this week for Cannes Lions, one major topic of conversation has been Bud Light’s misfiring collaboration with trans actress and influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Critics have accused the company of flinching in the face of a conservative backlash, making it appear insincere and unprepared to stand by a community it had been courting for its products.

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The Guardian on Zuckerberg v Musk

Owning rival social media platforms is not enough: Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg want to take this into the ring, ‘agreeing’ to a cage fight in an online exchange.

It’s the contest no one asked for, and eerily reminiscent of that time Monica’s software mogul boyfriend joined the UFC in Friends. But even if things don’t actually end up getting physical, what does all this say about the multibillionaire pair? And what does it say about the rest of us?

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