Five things on Friday #325

Things of note for the week ending Sunday March 13th, 2022


Hey friends. I very nearly didn’t write this week’s edition. It’s been quite the week in the new job (WEEK TWO, WHAT) and the last meeting of said week ended with:

‘It sounds like we’re going to GDC?’

‘Yes, it does rather doesn’t it?’


– it’s about 89% confirmed (which will nudge well into the 90s I think as early as tomorrow when we do a final call on it) BUT if you are heading out/over to SF for the Game Developers Conference week after next, do hit reply and let me know – would love to say hi!

What else can I tell you?

I saw a thing on LinkedIn week that said ‘Here’s how brands can help Ukraine with zero cost!’, it linked to this website and I don’t think I’ve ever reached for a sick bowl fast enough.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: maybe the people of Ukraine need things like medical supplies, blankets, maybe even their homes back? Not their flag appearing on… ads? I mean, you all remember when everyone changed their Instagram profile to a black square and racism just disappeared overnight right?

Incredible. If it’s ZERO COST then HOW ARE YOU HELPING? UGH.

Lost. For. Words.

deep sigh

Charity should be private but if I’m going to criticise another’s attempt to ‘help’ then I should be open about how I have contributed. This household has donated to The Red Cross and to Rob’s thing, and we’ve sent care a package via one of the donation centres nearby.

The important thing here is you can still help.

And here’s an updated list of the many ways you can do just that.


OK. Deep breaths. Calm.

Now then.

Let’s get to the things shall we?



As a reasonably good segue from that intro piece into the first Thing of the week, the best thing to come out of the annual platitude fest that is brands-on-international-womens-day was this phenomenal Twitter Bot.

The premise is simple: if you’re a brand on Twitter casually ticking the IWD2022 box in your annual content calendar and tweeting about hOw MuCh yOu SuPpOrT wOmEn then the Gender Pay Gap Bot will look up your gender pay gap on the government website and quote retweet you WITH THE FACTS.

If you were anywhere near Twitter last week it’s highly doubtful that you missed this so instead of showing you the best bits, I am going to suggest you go read this really nice interview with the creators, Francesca Lawson and Ali Fensome, over on VICE.

It, like them, is great.

Bonus: this whole IWD related thread is A⭐️.


Speaking of great people.

Sara Barqawi, whose previous (and brilliant) writing has been linked to from this newsletter before, is a thrower of pots. And mugs too as it happens.

Handthrown Mug Medium in Buttercream. Proceeds to Carers UK. image 1

In her spare time, Sara has made a bunch of these mugs and is selling them to raise money for Carers UK.

In Sara’s words:

“This is a ‘Butter’ Hand thrown Stoneware Mug. Bigger than a flat white cup, smaller than a sports direct mug. All proceeds (except the bloody etsy fee) goes to Carers UK, a charity that helps Carers have a break. Also: no two items are the same, as they’re handcrafted. You may get a mug a tiny bit different to the photo.”

PS. SB is also about to go freelance. Need a brand planner? Go get.



I did the thing that I said I wasn’t going to do and went and got a copy of ELDEN RING (there’s a whole other story involved in this that explains how it was bought for me as a making-up-for-falling-asleep-in-a-toilet present but that’s not for this newsletter – ahem), and it is as great and painful as everyone said it would be.

The main thing I wanted to tell you though is that, similarly to RETURNAL before it, ELDEN RING has made me dust off my old Twitch channel and stream all my efforts whenever possible.

I’ve got all of about 50 followers but if you go sign up and switch on notifications or something similar, you’ll get an alert every time I go live (it’s every other night at the moment but I’m sure that’ll eventually die off).

If you DO follow me on Twitch, you’ll get to watch this kind of VERY SWEARY action happen LIVE!

See you there?


If you’re new here, Thing 4 has slowly become THE METAVERSE section. Mainly because it’s all a bunch of guff and it needs calling out.

I’ve written a lot about it (and Thing 4 in FTOF #321 is probably where that starts) and while I appreciate some technologists and strategists are all very excited about the future (as am I, believe it or not) there is an awful amount of snake oil being peddled out there. And we should a) not be encouraging it and b) be advising brands and businesses to tread carefully or else we’ll be right back where we were when Facebook told everyone to PIVOT TO VIDEO.

Ya dig?

OK, let’s go.

Only a few things to discuss on this topic this week.

The metaverse: What is it? | TechRepublic

Purely from a metaversal perspective, it’s interesting to me that the closer you get to this thing the closer it is just ‘mass adoption and integration of the hundreds of gaming worlds people have occupied for decades’.

As such, when you hear from veterans in the gaming industry talking about anything “metaverse” they’re nearly always the best people to learn from because they’re actually there making this stuff, day in day out.

They’re not, and let’s be clear on this, they are not agencies, consultants, or platforms getting all fizzy in the knickers because there’s a new way to ask ‘But what does it mean for brands?’.

I linked you to Tencent’s take on it a week or so ago. This week I’ve got two more Metaverse opinions from the gaming industry for you.

First, Gabe Newell, co-founder, Valve, being interviewed for PC Gamer.

“Most of the people who are talking about metaverse have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. And they’ve apparently never played an MMO. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’ll have this customizable avatar.’ And it’s like, well… go into La Noscea in Final Fantasy 14 and tell me that this isn’t a solved problem from a decade ago, not some fabulous thing that you’re, you know, inventing.”

I mean, that’s pretty clear cut to me.

Second, fresh of the press this weekend, former Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé with this absolute belter for Bloomberg @ SXSW:

Reggie Fils-Aime

“Facebook itself is not an innovative company,” Fils-Aime told Emily Chang at the South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. “They have either acquired interesting things like Oculus and Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of people’s ideas. I don’t think their current definition will be successful.” 

The word ‘definition’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. Additionally, in both instances, do click through and read the whole thing. Having this kind of perspective when it comes to talking about “the metaverse” will only help you when discussing the concept (and it is only a concept at this stage) with clients.

Remember: there’s no such thing as the metaverse.

Metaversal activities? Yes, they absolutely exist. Defining what they are and how we should talk about them? That’s a piece for another day… (noodling).

On a tangential NFT note:


Mollie Goodfellow is great. Jodie Comer is great. The two of them met so the former could interview the latter and the end result is just… great.

Go read!





Friends. It’s Sunday. I’m yet to start the potatoes. So I’ll keep this brief.

Thanks for reading, thanks for subscribing, and – for those that do – thanks for replying too. Your indulgement of my geekery really is lovely.

I appreciate this space in your inbox, much.

Whatley out x

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x