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As more brands commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth, there are still lessons on mindfulness to be learned

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As more brands commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth, there are still lessons on mindfulness to be learned

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 and some brands and agencies are likely to celebrate it for the first time this year. The expansion of celebrating Juneteenth with a day off as well as recognition of the holiday at work, can demonstrate a company’s dedication to the history, traditions and impact of Juneteenth.

But there is still work to be done to get it right, according to brand founders and agency execs

While some companies are just starting to recognize Juneteenth for employees in recent years, others have been doing so long before corporate America’s spotlight fell on the day. And some are looking to do more than simply give their employees a day off. For example, financial service companies Solo Funds and Grain and creative and media agency group Havas, are not only honoring Juneteenth, they are also giving their employees a meaningful way to commemorate the holiday.

For the companies to maintain a strong relationship with their consumers, they have to understand what they celebrate and what culture they are part of in order to achieve long-term success when communicating about, and marketing associated with, Juneteenth.

More than a day off

“It’s important for our employees to understand Juneteenth, just as it’s important for us to understand Pride Month,” said Rodney Williams, co-founder of Solo Funds, which enables a marketplace where members can request and fund emergency needs. The company was founded in 2018 by Black entrepreneurs Williams and Travis Holoway.

Grain, an innovative fintech that extends lines of credit based on cashflow, also celebrated Juneteenth long before it became a federal holiday. “The large majority of our employee base are Black,” said Christian Joseph, CEO of Grain. “50% of the company is a mix of Black and Black immigrants. In regards to Juneteenth, we take it very seriously. We also celebrated Juneteenth long before it became a popular thing to do. It’s not just a one day thing, from inception it’s something we’ve been very conscious of.”

Solo Funds emphasized the importance of being aware of other holidays that may be ethnically-focused or that have a positive agenda. This has now spread to their employees as well. Williams added: Solo Funds “has the most diverse staff that I’ve ever been a part of. And it’s not because we have a diversity initiative, it’s that it’s part of our culture to appreciate differences among the team.”

In addition to closing for Juneteenth this year, Havas has shown a new documentary , “Just Like Me,” to its employees across the country. Made by Havas Chicago senior art director, Mike “TTK” Harris, the film sets out to demonstrate how Black creatives make contributions to culture through their work, highlight the challenges many face due to the color of their skin and reinforce the importance of representation to advertising and design. “Just Like Me” tells the stories of eight Black creatives who helped to shape the world in their own way, against long odds and who are now sharing the lessons they have learned with the next generation.

The idea for all Havas North American employees to see this short film was spearheaded by Stephanie Nerlich, Havas North America’s CEO. “We hope that it inspires the next generation of Black creatives to pursue careers in advertising and design,” said Nerlich.

Havas also launched its own commitment to change in 2020, a seven-point plan focused on the development, investment and growth of underrepresented talent — particularly Black talent.

“We have employees who have celebrated Juneteenth their whole lives, as well as those who are just learning about the holiday,” said Nerlich. “Beyond celebrating Freedom Day, a lot of our employees view this as a day of reflection — reflecting on where we’ve been, where we’ve come, and where we need to go as a society.”

Companies will also have to recognize that their employees will share their stories about Juneteenth. Sheena Collier, customer support leader at Solo Funds, was one of the employees who had a powerful Juneteenth story, explained Williams.

“With that message, she took it upon herself to communicate that to our employees and ultimately to the entire company. Solo Funds consists of employees in North America, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. “Kudos to some of our great employees, particularly our head of customer success, [Sheena Collier] who has been so vocal and passionate about our organization,” Williams said. 

Recognition without monetization

Aside from finding ways to go beyond recognizing Juneteenth for employees, brands and agency execs say marketers should learn from recent backlashes against brands looking to monetize Juneteeth commemorations.

Williams, who was previously a brand ambassador at Procter & Gamble prior to co-founding Solo Funds said, “When I used to try to lead these types of initiatives as a human, does this resonate with you? Is it the right thing to do as a human? And yes, you may be doing it as a part of Juneteenth, maybe doing it as part of a particular moment in time. But it should resonate with us being human and us sharing this together. So I think that’s my barometer for success as it relates to things like that when I see ads.”

Certainly Juneteenth should be a moment for brands to celebrate the Black experience, but many still don’t understand how to convey a message in that context in an appropriate and respectful way.

“Given that Juneteenth has been recently introduced as a moment that warrants celebration, brands are looking for guidance on what should be the guardrails that govern how they show their support,” said Joe Anthony, CEO of the 100% Black-owned full service creative and digital agency Hero Collective. “We obviously saw Walmart drop the ball with Juneteenth ice cream. Brands should really use this as a moment to use their brand strength to help empower the Black community.”

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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