Five things on Friday #351

Things of note for the week ending Friday July 14th, 2023.


Hello and welcome to Five things on Friday.

‘A regular kaleidoscope of clever ideas and great links. An obvious labour of love. Highly recommended.’

Cheers for that, Darragh. I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said about this thing in ages. And I properly love ‘An obvious labour of love’.

Might update the description.

How are you?

Good week?

I took a few days off at the start of the week to celebrate the Mrs’ birthday. Went down to Southampton and stayed at the Harbour Hotel. It’s blimmin’ lovely down there. Decent food, lovely staff, and overall just a decent mini break (sans kids, obvs). Then we came back and attempted five days work in two which… well… never works out well for anyone. I am tired.

What else can I tell you?

As I write this to you now, it’s 21:14 on Friday July 14th. The Things have been collated quite quickly this week. Mainly from Threads, which is a good sign but more on that in a bit. But I haven’t been able to find the time to write them up until now.

Shall we get on with it then?



A week or so later, how we all feeling?

Let’s start with a breath freshener from Charlie Warzel over at The Atlantic:

Cool. Still feeling good?

OK! Let’s crack on.

As loathe as I am to admit it, my words from last week still ring true: in the game of ‘which billionaire’s platform I dislike the least’, I’m definitely landing more on the one where literal nazis don’t get to buy their way to the top your newsfeed (and then get paid for the pleasure).

But hey, that’s just me.

And while I’ve never made a secret of my distaste of Zuck’s big blue misery machine, with Threads I am actually having fun again.

It might be the fact that it’s pretty much stopped me using Twitter*.
It might be the fact that the friend/socialgraph actually works.
It MIGHT be the fact that it feels like a decent community (again).

Will it last forever?

Almost certainly not.

They’ll mess with the algorithm, stick Stories or Reels across the top and then, when the users hit critical mass, pump it full of ads – I’m sure.

All before the end of the next FY.

(side: if this FY for Meta is all about ‘Operational Efficiencies’, you can bet your hen’s teeth that next FY will be about maximising new ad revenue opportunities).

Until then though? Let’s have fun.

With that in mind, here are some…


You want to make panoramic photos like a pro?

Here are three ways to do that.

#1. On iOS?
You want to download the SERIES PHOTO APP, as demonstrated below by the generously creative (and major Threads inspo driver) Pete Halvorsen (give him a follow, tell him I said hi).

#2 On Android?
I can recommend an app called PhotoSplit that does the same as the above (but currently limited to three windows – I have paid for the Pro version and sent a feature request to the devs). That’s what most of mine are made in.

#3 On desktop?
Get yourself into Google slides, hit File > Page Setup > Custom > 4:5 and then make yourself some snappy panoramic stuff.

Like this.

Or like Rob. Or like Joe. Or Izzy (OK, maybe you can’t do it like Izzy in Google Slides but still – isn’t it great?!)

The only other thing I would add to my bumper book of Threads Pro Tips™️ is that you get in what you get out. So if you’re still on Twitter, use this search string to help find people you might like. Follow people. Interact. Mute crap brands/influencers… And why not use this as an opportunity to clean house and start over. That’s what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Oh and PS. Our studio team is already cooking up some fun client-based Threads stuff (coming soon) but if you’re looking for some creative fun on how to make your trailers, key art, or game announcements sing, come talk to Diva.

*At the time of writing, this was mostly true. Then Twitter announced it was paying a whole bunch of Far Right hate mongers for being monstrous hate machines and now that has confirmed it: I won’t be back on Twitter.


Welcome to the UK, where a ‘Let’s speak to young people about taking teabags on their summer holiday to Ibiza’ is a completely normal brief.

Yes, let’s how much we love tea.

And Yorkshire Tea (EDIT: and its agency, Lucky Generals – well done gang) have absolutely smash it out of the park.

You gotta watch this.

I love love love it.

Great job.


Gameboy mailboxes. Amazing.

I found the above photo on Threads. Well, a version of it (without the watermark). A bit of googling and I found the source. Isn’t it lovely? I want one.

OK, where were we?

Ah yes.

Here we are.

Image preview

In arguably the biggest news announcement to happen to the Quest VR platform since it launched, Roblox is arriving in beta on Meta Quest ‘in the coming weeks’.

For the those of you that don’t know, Roblox has around 66m daily active users (DAUs) – that’s 66 million uniques signing into their Roblox account EVERY DAY.

Meanwhile, Meta can barely get its own staff to login to Horizon Worlds – like, at all – let alone drive stickiness with its install base. The last DAU reported, back in October, was 200,000 and I would wager even that has dwindled since then (I mean, it’s gotta be a sick burn when the users for an app and hardware you’ve poured tens of billions of dollars into gets overtaken by a Twitter clone in like an hour).

So this is a huge deal.

Meta Quest has needed a killer app for its VR hardware ‘solution’ forever. And with Roblox – being played by tens millions of young people every day (albeit 70% of them accessing via mobile) – and Quests in living rooms and drawers gathering dust for months – then this hugely popular platform might be the unlock they’ve been looking for.

You can read the announcement on Meta’s newsroom pages however I would draw you attention to this section:

“Roblox on Quest will be available for people ages 13 and up. And parents can use existing Meta Quest parental supervision tools to help create a level of safety and supervision that’s right for their family.”

This announcement is dated July 12th. Less than a month before, Meta was also announcing another new ‘feature’ for its platform, ‘Parent managed families’”

“Today we’re announcing changes to give families even more ways to use and enjoy Meta Quest. Starting later this year, parents will be able to set up parent-managed Meta accounts for Meta Quest 2 and 3 for their children ages 10 – 12.”

So Roblox is coming out for Meta Quest.
You have to be 13 to play it but we’ll let the parents decide.

Also note: ‘people’ vs ‘children’.


There’s a teeny tiny whiff of ‘Well, we did tell the parents that they had to be 13, it’s not really up to us how they monitor their kids’ behaviour once they’ve signed up them up after they turn 10. We gave them the tools senator…’

You tell me.

Entirely unrelated: ‘Mark Zuckerberg hides his kids’ faces on social media, and tech experts say you should do the same

Given all of the above, and the glacial speed at which any kind of regulation moves through the US/EU: IF the Roblox beta goes well and kids people come running in their droves I wonder how long Horizon Worlds will survive…

OH YEAH, I did think of one good thing about this news.

At least when Roblox rolls out on Quest then this call to action FROM SEPTEMBER LAST YEAR (as covered in FTOF #337) for Walmart’s godawful Roblox world will actually make sense now 😂

‘Grab your headsets’, honestly.

I would’ve linked to the Tweet but for some reason Walmart has deleted it.


Quick Gaming News

  • PepsiCo announced a multiyear partnership with EA, anchored around the incoming EA Sports FC (aka ‘FC’, aka ‘FC24’ aka ‘Not-FIFA’). You know the grown ups are in the room when this kind of stuff is announced. Talk about learning from your competitor’s mistakes.

  • In a landmark case in the US, the makers of Destiny 2 (and soon, Marathon), Bungie, has managed to successfully hold a sociopathic troll liable for damages against Bungie and its staff. The culprit – one Jesse James Comer – is liable for nearly $500k worth of costs. This. Is. Amazing. Not only setting a new precedent for studios defending themselves against idiotic gAmEr but also HUGE KUDOS to Bungie for coming out to bat so hard for its team. I follow a bunch of Bungo folk across various social media and if you’re reading this @LegalMinimum, I salute you man. 🫡 Here’s IGN with the full story.

  • Remember the amazing 100ft tall Lilith / Diablo IV graffiti project? This is how we did it.

  • Gameplay trailers should include gameplay, right?

  • New Hellboy (the game) trailer! RIP Lance x

  • ARE YOU GOING TO GAMESCOM? Let me know. Reply to this, send me a Linkedin message, email me or whatsapp or whatever. I will be there. Coffee?

What is James playing this week?

I finished the Diablo IV campaign AT LAST (and what a story – I swear to God, that game has some of the best – if not the best – cut scenes I have ever seen in a game, ever (you can watch a supercut here spoiler alert etc – if you’re never going to play the game, watch this – if you’re on the fence about the game, just watch the first one) so that was fun to do. And the voice acting really is superb – special shout to Ralph Ineson. Anyway, go play it.

With Diablo out of the way, it was time to crack on with FFXVI but before I did that, a brief interaction on Threads on Wednesday reminded me that I’d downloaded Planet of Lana on Game Pass and hadn’t given it a go.

And wow. What a gorgeous game it is.

Take a dose of Limbo, add a healthy amount of gorgeous colours and paintwork (look at those trees – look at them!), toss in a phenomenally cute animal friend (it’s basically a cat called ‘mui’ but my youngest insisted on calling it ‘grey rabbit’) and you’ve got the best Diablo IV palate cleaner you could ever ask for.

I finished it in a day – and I’m so pleased I spent time with it.



Next up: Final Fantasy XVI. Then Jedi: Survivor.

What are you playing?


I mean, can you believe it took this long?

Yes, Killer Whales are attacking yachts in the med.

Yes, it is hilarious.

Yes, this article ‘The orca uprising: whales are ramming boats – but are they inspired by revenge, grief or memory?’ has got some banging paragraphs.

Such as:

“They’re very interested in us,” [says Philip Hoare, the author of Leviathan and Albert and the Whale,]. “Every whale I’ve met, and I’ve met thousands, they’re all interested in us. Because they know there’s nothing out there in their ocean – other than other whales – that is like us. We’re talking about all this now; there’s an equivalent conversation going on in orca society. Orca are podcasting. Literally podcasting. I’ll copyright that joke!” He sends me a 10-second recording of sound captured during his own interaction with the orca pod in Sri Lanka – a complex soundscape of clicks, rasps and squeaks that gives me goosebumps. “If you could only translate that, everything that has been written about this would be rendered defunct. We’ll all be proved wrong.”

Lovely. I implore you to read the whole thing.


OREO announced a new partnership with Mario and (it was nothing to do with me and whisper it the Xbox partnership was better – shh but) the announcement film is great!

What’s really great about it is that System1 group tested it and gave it a the prestigious title of ‘the best ad we’ve reviewed this year’. Gotta use those distinctive brand assets, y’all – and this is a lesson in how to do that well.

Can you imagine though, seeing the western internet go nuts for this partnership just as you are literally days away from dropping this amazingly similar piece for Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning?

Absolutely Brutal.

BUUUUT did you know the M:I xylophone ball thing was done completely in digital?







Thanks for making it this far.

If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, please consider passing it onto a friend. And remember the pitch: Five things on Friday, it doesn’t always come on Friday but you always get more than five.

I hope wherever you are life is being good to you. I’ve got a birthday party for a pal tomorrow afternoon and an afternoon of doing sweet FA on Sunday. I might play some video games with the kids.

Be kind to yourself. Show yourself some love.

And above all else enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

Whatley out x


Last last last thing: this made me chuckle.

Five things on Friday #350

Things of note for the week ending Sunday July 9th, 2023.

Three hundred and fifty editions eh?

Not bad for what started out as a weekly exercise in writing discipline way back in 2011 is now a regular an occasional newsletter with over 4000 subscribers.

Absolutely nuts.

I know I always tend to start these things off with a thank you but I am truly so grateful that literally anyone takes the time out to read this thing.

Cheers to you.

Also, these stats are pretty insane y’all.

So yeah, THANKS. You’re all very beautiful and actually quite lovely.


What else can I tell you?

Ah yes, in last week’s edition I ‘swapped things’ with of . One of us had to go first and that was me. So a few hours after FTOF #349 went out, Rob published his edition featuring yours truly.

So if you want to read what I said in response to the brief ‘What quote or idea consistently helps you either slow down, or keep going’, then you just need skip over to this edition of Salmon Theory to find out.

More broadly, Rob’s newsletter is great. He is really good at articulating what it means to be a planner/strategist. And if you ever need to feel like you’re not alone in this job, go read Salmon Theory.


Right. With all that out the way, shall we get to this week’s things?



Yes, I am on Threads.

It’s a sorry state of affairs when your preferred choice of social media* ultimately comes down to which billionaire you despise the least but alas, that seems to be where we are. Better the devil you know (Zuck) vs the devil you don’t also know but is probably actually an all out sociopath (Musk), right? 😬

Rumoured to be dropping for a while now, all hell broke loose earlier this week when the US + UK (and some VPN’d Europeans) had Threads teasers drop in their respective Instagram accounts. So heavy was the draw that I actually put the IG app back on my phone for the first time since 2019.

At the time of writing, Threads user #1 confirmed that the platform had already secured 70 million sign ups. Sign ups are one thing, retaining those sign ups into DAUs and MAUS, therein lies the challenge.

(want to know your user number? Head to your Instagram profile and look for the number under your profile photo. I’m user #56821. Not bad).

So far though, I’m liking it.

The onboarding was simple, the friend-finding algorithm is working well for me (YMMV), and as soon as it launches a few more things such as a decent search, trending topics, and a web interface well, that’s me done with Twitter for good I guess. Oh, I also like the carousel default for photos – (you can/brands will have fun with this). Guess all we need is a embed integration now eh?

For what it’s worth, I thought John Gruber’s take over on Daring Fireball – ‘Threads’, – was v good.

Is Meta's new Threads more than a Twitter copycat? | Technology News | Al  Jazeera

For me personally, I’ve been looking for reasons to give up Twitter for a while now. Not having a ‘home’ was one of the reasons I stuck around.

With the app/service closing in on 100m sign ups in its first week (!!!), I think this might be where I find my people again.

FWIW, given the meta-ownership, I’m also going to remain semi-active on Bluesky (it’s so chaotic, I love it) but for now, me and Threads are tight.

Give me a web interface to Threads and I doubt I’ll ever go back to Twitter again. I’m so done with everything it’s become. Advertisers are leaving/have left in their droves and the biggest man-baby in the world has destroyed everything about it that I loved.

Threads it is then.

See you there?

*where my friends and community are. Bluesky/T2/Mastodon et al, are all great – but the user numbers, and frankly the people I know and have followed for years just aren’t there. FWIW, I’m probably going to keep my Bluesky profile active. The community there is mega chaotic and seemingly just KIND. Again, YMMV.



It’s Nice That, writes:

Rachael Wright views the image as one that demonstrates the pull of the sea. “The sea is such a mysterious, powerful draw and the more I wonder why people stand and stare at it, the more possibilities I come up with.” Other moments that stand out for Rachael are moments of joy – like the image of Buddhists monks jumping into the waves; “a reminder that we all have an inner child who longs to come out to play.”


I love these.

They remind me of home.


Not much to report this week. Honestly. Really. Truly.

Tell you what though, this piece ‘Opening a Cannes of Worms’, from my friend and pal, Jonathan Stringfield, on whether or not the 70th edition of the Cannes Festival of Creativity finally signalled the arrival of gaming in the marketing world is very good.

And I absolutely recommend you read it x

What else?

Oh yeah, I noted that Wimbledon launched a new version of its ‘Wimbleworld’ in Fortnite this year (vs Roblox last year) What with Nike doing the same (opting for Fortnite v Roblox for Airphoria) just last month well… 🎵 Times they are a-changin’… 🎵

UEFN (Unreal Editor for Fortnite) is THE game-changer.

You just don’t know it yet.

(it’d be lovely for UEFN to be on Mac but well, they had quite the falling out)

Speaking of Fortnite, you’re a player of Fortnite – or Fall Guys (or another Epic Game that features an in-game currency) – and you’re in the UK, Canada or Mexico then you may have received an email like this:

That’s right, thanks to our good friend, inflation, the cost of in-game currency is going up. For Fortniters, that looks like this:

Like pretty much everything else right now, even the price of virtual currency is going up. If you’re smart (and have the dollar to spend), stock up on v-bucks now.

The last thing I think that’s worth a mention is, according to this redditor, Valve – makers (among many other things) of the Steam games platform – is not willing to publish games with AI generated content anymore.

I am pleased about this

PS. Headed to Gamescom this year? Me too! Catch up?


My heart still weeps.

Can you believe it’s been TEN YEARS since we lost the world’s favourite web app?

It was so perfect. So so so so so perfect. Ach. I miss it.

The Verge has a fantastic if ultimately truly saddening reflection of a service that started off life as a happy accident but was ultimately killed by Google’s relentless obsession on apps that serve billions (vs millions).

If you’ve never even heard of Google Reader before, then I cannot ask you enough to please read this article. It’s a great glimpse into something that was so ahead of its time… us ex-GReaders still mourn for it.


Substack is lovely. Last week, after sharing the growth successes of FToF with the Notes community over there, I got into a nice back and forth with . After some friendly exchanges, I inquired after which of their newsletters I should look into and they recommended this:

The manifesto newsletter.

And now I’m recommending it to you 🙂

PS. Why not read how it all started as well?




There is still time to sponsor me for August’s Tough Mudder. If you’ve ever found literally any value from this entirely free newsletter. Then please do express that value with real world money to help a real world cause – War Child.

Additionally, if you liked this 350th edition of Five things on Friday, then please do recommend it to a friend, colleague, or department. This thing has grown by word of mouth ALONE so the more people you tell about it, the happier I get.

That’s nice isn’t it? Go on then. Off you pop.

In the meantime, thanks for reading (thanks for donating).

And thanks for being awesome.

Whatley out x

See Ya Goodbye GIF by Walter Mercado

PS. Last thing, promise. If you’re having a bad day, don’t worry. It could be worse. You could be that person on Linkedin that told me Google Maps was the metaverse.

I wish I was making it up.

Five things on Friday #349

Things of note for the week ending Friday June 30th, 2023

First thing first: THANK YOU to everyone for your gorgeous messages of congrats after last week’s super rogue edition of Five Things Seven Wins on Friday.


It means so much to me (more than you could know) that so many of you recognise the journey its been – and whether you’ve been with me since the beginning or only got onboard at the last stop, your love and support is appreciated, and taken direct to my heart.

Thank you x.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read that one-off special edition 🦁 right here 🦁.

Bonus? I’m headed to Gamescom in Germany this August (Going? Hit reply or comment to LMK and we’ll grab a coffee) and my old Saatchis Dusseldorf team are going to drive down to Köln to celebrate. Can’t wait.

Quick interlude:


Come on, its pay day for a bunch of you. HMU with your dollar x

What else can I tell you?

Oh yeah: HELLO AND WELCOME to the several hundred new people that signed up this week (you’ve nearly tipped me over the 4k subs number!). I think you found your way here via a mixture of an amazing recco from the CEO of CP+B over on Marketing Brew (hi Maggie) and Moshe’s viral (and shamelessly copied) Twitter thread all about Barbie’s epic marketing campaign (more on that in a bit).

If I’m wrong – and you found Five things on Friday another way – let me know. Whatever the weather, it’s nice to have you. I hope you like it here, and fingers crossed you stick around.

PS. If you missed the intro when you signed up: my name’s James Whatley and Five things on Friday is a collection of noteworthy stuff that I’ve seen on my travels around the internet. It doesn’t always come on Friday but there’s always more than five.

And finally… (for the intro section at least):

This past week marked a year since I stood on stage at Ministry of Sound at BIMA Beyond and presented this slide.

Anybody who stands on this stage and tells you the Metaverse is the future hasn't got a fucking clue and you should NOT be OK with that.

Never seen this before? Watch the video.

A slide that if you’ve been reading this newsletter for any length of time would come as no surprise to you at all and frankly, a full 365 days later? I only have one thing to say about it:

It’s been A YEAR, y’all.

What’s good?

Shall we get to the things?



A Fortnite thing. A Nike thing. A whole UEFN thing.


Truth be told, I was meant to write about this last week but the whole Cannes Lions thing (seven of them, did I mention?) got in the way.

A few weeks ago, Nike announced a new Fortnite world called Airphoria. The Unreal logo next to the .Swoosh logo got the web3 bros in a right old froth.

But as it turned out, it was a small step for Nike and a baby-step for the OMG NFT GAMING IZ HERE web3 jizzards.

Me being me, I booted up Airphoria island the day it launched aaaaaaand completed it before breakfast. Natch.

Let’s talk about what #Airphoria IS.

  • As a great example of Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN) can do, Airphoria IS superb. A good case of showing other brands and developers what’s possible.

  • On top of the, the store (aka Item Shop) integration integration Airphoria IS superb (but I doubt this is open to all).

  • (aka Item Shop) all in all, about 20-30mins of gameplay all in (nice).

  • The world of Airphoria IS stunning to look at and short enough to retain interes.

OK, so what about all the Web3, NFT, .Swoosh stuff? Well, let’s talk about what Airphoria ISN’T.

  • Airphoria ISN’T ‘the metaverse’ – no matter what (the overly-committed-to-the-bit and-can-find-no-way-back-from-how-deep-its-gone) Vogue Business says. Please.

  • Airphoria ISN’T perfect. The gameplay isn’t quite there (everyone I’ve spoken to who played it didn’t really know where to go or what to do at certain phases) and the island crashed a couple of times while playing too. So while it’s a great branded experience, as a pure-play GAME, it still has as a way to go.

  • Airphoria ISN’T the Web3 gaming revolution (I’ve seen a few of those on Linkedin already – absolute chancers).

  • And finally, Airphoria ISN’T great for .Swoosh users outside the US.


On that Web3 point, there was a whole bunch of crowing from the Web3/NFT crowd about what Epic x Nike were about to do with this partnership when it was originally announced and as it turned out it’s… account linking and a .Swoosh-side unlockable achievement.

So nothing in game then?

Ok fine. Looking forward to all those updated LinkedIn posts!

Baby steps though right?

The Nike small print talks about the account linking enabling ‘interoperable’ assets. And while that’s not quite there yet (you can’t trade .Swoosh-side unlocks, you can’t bring .Swoosh-side stuff into Fortnite, and you have to spend money in Fortnite to unlock stuff in .Swoosh – not vice-versa) it is a good promise for the future.

All in all, congratulations to Nike and Epic. As a showcase for what mega-brands can do in #UEFN, Airphoria is top tier. The item shop integration especially – in fact, I would bet a decent lunch on more Fortnite users buying the outfits in the Item Shop than there are users that linked their .Swoosh accounts… I wonder if/when that level of integration will become open for UEFN builders. If ever.


Especially with EA Sports FC around the corner… ay.

To close this section off, this week, a day or so after the event finished, participants who played the island for more than ten minutes were able to log back in and claim themselves some AIR MAX 1 ‘86 backbling. Lovely.

Learn more how they did all of this, and more on UE5 Spotlight.

Finally, I’ve gathered up all my screenshots from the activation into a Google Photos folder so if you’re looking for any to use for presentations or anything, please go ahead and use them.

Just mark them up with ‘Source @whatleydude’.

Thanks x


‘For this is… the island life’

I cannot express to you enough to take three minutes and twenty-eight seconds out of your day watch and enjoy this incredible piece of art and craft.

You’ll almost certainly want to watch it again.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll probably want to know more.

So here’s the behind the scenes video too.

What a truly incredible piece of work. I cried.


Elephant Mario in Super Mario Bros. Wonder

FIRST: Super Mario is an Elephant now in Super Mario Wonder.

I haven’t been this excited for a new Mario since Odyssey came out. I just love this whole VIBE. In in in in in in….

‘Oh that Goomba looks so serene… well then’ – (watch the trailer, you’ll see what I mean).

What other news?



What am I playing?

Truth be told, I’ve barely touched a thing of late. Between WORK (and there has been a lot of that – turns out pitching, then going on holiday, then winning a pitch, then catching covid, then trying to catch up on everything else – while also trying to be the CSO of an agency and everything that comes with that takes up a lot of time), training for the Tough Mudder (have you sponsored me?), and the sun finally coming out…

Well, I’ve not the time to spend on it. However, aside from dipping into Forza 5 (see above) and playing a bit of Mincraft with the kids, on the rotation schedule at the moment I’ve got:

  • Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Truth be told I’ve put this down for a bit. I think I’m a bit worn out. I will go back to it. I hear the ending is excellent.

  • Diablo IV. Still chipping away at the campaign. Well into Act III now and things are heating up.

  • Occasional SF6 (although I’ve not been back since getting to Bronze 2 Star).

  • C-Smash VRS came out this week and I really want to try that this weekend.

  • I managed to catch up with my Destiny 2: Season of the Deep story beats (although a new one dropped this week – the final one I believe) so I’ve got that to do. Might even do that today.

  • And then, of course, Final Fantasy XVI has dropped – and Diva has done a fair amount of work on this one so I almost feel obliged, y’know? I mean first off, it’s getting rave reviews and second, I haven’t really played an FF game since Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube (yes, I know). If you didn’t know, the FF series – while numbered – doesn’t actually tell one continuous story. Each game is a brand new story. There are common themes etc but it’s a new character, background, world… using similar mechanics as before. XVI is the new/first proper next gen version of Final Fantasy. And apparently it shows. So I’ll see you there, right?

What are YOU playing?


[A few weeks ago, from asked if we wanted to a ‘thing swap’ for our newsletters. You’ll find a thing from me over on the next/latest edition of Salmon Theory. But now, over to Rob…]

Hey friends, my name’s Rob and you guessed it – i’m not James.

We’re trying something for fun, where we do a mini guest writing thing on each others’ newsletters. I am a Planning Director at VCCP in London, and the author of Salmon Theory, a newsletter whose aim is to help you either slow down, or keep going, by tapping into timeless ideas that helps us make sense of whatever the hell today and tomorrow is. I’ve been writing it for about 6 years, having a ton of fun and meeting heroes along the way, some of which are part of the 2.5k readers who lend their attention to me on a regular basis. I’m grateful to every single one of them.

Anyway, James gave me a brief which is: what’s the most interesting thing you’ve read/seen this week?

And as i was reviewing stuff i saved this week (i’m a bit of a link hoarder), i came across this wonderful concept of wetiko. So what is it?

“Wetiko is an Algonquin [indigenous people of Eastern Canada] word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess and selfish consumption (in Ojibwa it is windigo, wintiko in Powhatan).

It deludes its host into believing that cannibalising the life-force of others (others in the broad sense, including animals and other forms of Gaian life) is a logical and morally upright way to live.

Wetiko short-circuits the individual’s ability to see itself as an enmeshed and interdependent part of a balanced environment and raises the self-serving ego to supremacy. It is this false separation of self from nature that makes this cannibalism, rather than simple murder.”

Grim stuff, right? And yet, i’m a huge believer in being able to clearly label problems before you can start solving them. And looking to the past, or often forgotten or misunderstood cultures, can sometimes yield fantastic pieces of language and modes of thinking to change our perspective. Wetiko feels like that to me. It relates to our relationship with mother nature and the planet, but i would argue can also be applied as a more general way of looking at the world. Of course, in this case what we want to learn and improve by opposition of what wetiko means.

This letting go of a competitive drive doesn’t always come easy for a strategist like me who is formatted to think in terms of competitive advantages. And yet, while that skill is useful when you think about an organisational problem, i know that this form of competition can become quite detrimental in our own lives. In other words, it’s fine to have your competitive hat on when life and work so require, but equally we have to know when to let that go and adopt a much more holistic view towards ourselves and others. I’m a huge fan of channels like Kurzgesagt because they help me take a much more systemic approach to, quite literally, life, the universe and everything.

And while that does not make me a saint (far from it), i have to believe that being able to approach our environments with respect, with a sense of “us-ness”, instead of us vs them, can only be an increasingly mandatory skill to be a decent human being in the 21st century. Or, if we bring it back to the world of strategy, you literally think of yourself as being far more integrated and interconnected to the world around you, in ways that perhaps no one ever taught us to before. And if integration and interconnectedness and complementarity and mutually reinforcing benefits are good enough for this small thing called strategy, then they must be good enough for this huge thing called life. 

So next time someone is projecting a type of antagonistic energy where for them to win you must lose, perhaps ask yourself: “Why so wetiko?”

Anyway, thanks James for allowing me a little corner here, and hope you all enjoyed it. I write more stuff like this over at Salmon Theory, so hope i see you there?



You cannot move for Barbie marketing at the moment – and I LOVE IT.

First thing first, all credit to Joe Kozak, creative lead at Diva, for sending me this amazing Barbie billboard just outside of Canary Wharf in London.

I tagged it to the super smart Moshe Isaacian’s attention, who was in the midst of compiling this mega (size and viral) thread all about Barbie’s PAINT THE TOWN PINK approach to its whole launch campaign.

One campain. 50+ executions.

You must’ve seen it by now (and if you haven’t, you’ve probably seen a million rip offs).

Moshe’s thread covers everything from Airbnb to Xbox, from candles to cosmetics, from rollerskates to rolling suitcases. The partnerships job on this is everything.

You should check it out and, if you see any copycats, direct them back to Moshe’s original. Don’t use Twitter? Here it is on Linkedin.

Also, it should be said: some ADLAND PEOPLE got really grumpy about the Pink OOH. Like, laughably so. Which is amazing really. I think I made some throwaway comment like ‘If you don’t get it, then it’s not for you’ – and honestly, it was like I personally poked them in both eyes with the feet from a Barbie doll.

It’s ok to not get an ad. It’s also ok to assume that Warner Bros might actually know what they’re doing by going all out to ensure that every single Barbie fan (and their friends) goes out and buys a ticket.

Kicking off because it doesn’t suit your interpretation of a brief you haven’t seen is like completely fine and stuff but also, kinda why I ended up writing about gaming instead. As painful as it sounds, not every ad is for middle-aged white man strategy Twitter. Some ads are for people that really like Barbie.





If you’ve made it his far then you get a free hug. Claim it when you see me next.

It’s my day off today and I’ve spent a lot of it writing this to you. I had a whole thing about glasto lined up but I’ve swapped it out for Rob on Thing 4. So you’ll have to read it next time 🙂

I hope you have a decent weekend. I’m off to take the kids to see George Ezra.

Happy Friday, fam.

Whatley out x

Five things on Friday #348

Things of note for the week ending Friday June 23rd, 2023

No things this week just Lions.

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12 shortlists.

Seven Lions.

Four Gold. Two Silver. One Bronze.

Seven Lions awarded at the peer reviewed and judged Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity.

All seven for the OREO x Xbox partnership (aka ‘Cheat Cookies’ or ‘Unlock Playfulness’ – market depending), that launched at the turn of the year.

I led and sold in the strategy for this project when I was at Digitas, working with the amazing team at Saatch Saatchi Dusseldorf, in my role as European Strategy Lead for Mondelez bakery .

I cried.

Clients have been amazing.

And my old team have sent a million selfies.


I know it sounds mad but for me, this shit is important.

When it comes to the advertising industry, winning a Lion is IT.

Like that is IT.

People care about all the other awards, sure. But the big one, the one that really chuffing matters – it’s the Cannes Lion.

Winning a Lion at Cannes MATTERS.

I know this because the only other Lion that I have on my CV is the Bronze I’m credited on for the 2014 Expedia activation: Travel Your Tweet Interesting.

And I have always been proud of that.

But y’know what, I don’t talk about my upbringing that much (Dad was a carpenter, left when I was six or seven, Mum worked two jobs – in a pub and a supermarket) – I was recently sent a book called ‘Making it in the creative industry: A practical guide’ and it reminded me that actually, I’ve been really effing lucky to get where I am.

I grew up in Essex. I didn’t come into the ad industry knowing someone. I didn’t go to private school (I got my GSCEs at Castle View, Canvey Island, Essex). I had free school dinners (had to queue up at reception every lunchtime and get the little bus ticket voucher). I didn’t go to university and I don’t have a degree. No one paid for me to get anywhere. No one opened doors. I’m a white cis-het male and so the system is easier for me to navigate – there’s privilege there. I acknowledge that.

Today though, I acknowledge my background. My working class roots. I’m a member of Jed Hallam’s common people and proud.

And today I’ve got four gold lions.

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You may not care about Cannes. And y’know what, if you’d asked me before this week, I probably would’ve said I don’t care as well.

But then we won. And I sobbed. Sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Uncontrollably! Sobbed for the validation of my peers. Sobbed for achieving the heights on a campaign strategy and idea we believed in so much. Sobbed for all those bastards that never really knew what to do with me when they found me working in their team.

And yet here I am. With FOUR GOLD Lions.

Speechless. Utterly speechless.

Normal service will resume next edition.

I’m done now.

Whatley out x

PS. Watch the case film.

PPS. Those Lions in full:


Five things on Friday #347

Things of note for the week ending Sunday June 18th 2023.

I snapped this Crown Plaza ad at Heathrow Airport last month. It’s in the corridors as you pass through security. If you made this, I only have one question: what the actual ever loving f*** were you thinking? Thanks x


It’s been a minute. How have you been?

I’ve been: busy with work (more on that later) on holiday (ten year anniversary with the Mrs – Sorrento, was lovely), and then down and out with covid (do not recommend).

As I write to you it’s 942am on Sunday 18th June. It’s Father’s Day. The kids have delivered gifts, coffee, and cake (cake!) and so I’ve been left to relax in bed.

And here I am, writing to you.

I hope wherever you are in the world reading this you are well and happy. Life is hard at times. Sometimes it feels like it all of the time. The most important thing is that you stay. You are loved and appreciated more than you will ever know by people close to you and people who you’ve met only once but left a lifelong impression on.

So… if you take one thing from this week’s edition it’s this: stay.

What else can I tell you?

Oh yes! Thank you so much to the FToF readers that have kindly donated to the my Tough Mudder attempt (less than two months away!) – we’re still a little way off our target so if you enjoy this entirely free newsletter, and can spare a fiver or two FOR WAR CHILD on payday (stick a reminder in) then please donate here.

There’s been a lot going on across my broad spectrum of interestingness since we last spoke so I’ll try and keep this edition of THINGS tight and brief – we both know that won’t happen. But there’s no harm in trying, right?

Shall we?



A dear friend of mine happens to be in charge of a ridiculous event space in South London called, 100 Barrington.

A few weeks months ago, and in the name updating their marketing material for ‘23 and beyond, 100 Barrington hosted one hell of a partythis one in fact.

Yours truly- along with some other VERY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE -bagged an invite and, as it was such an amazing evening, I made a promise to the hosts that I would gladly let you all know about it.

So in case you are looking for an events space in Brixton – for a summer party, a wedding, or planning ahead for Christmas – Give 100 Barrington a call.

Ask for Dan. And tell him James Whatley says hi x


(I wasn’t going to write about this – it’s been done to death already and so many others have done a better job; I liked Ben Evans’ take. But a few people have asked and so OK fine).

On June 5th, Apple announced Vision Pro. A beta programme first generation mixed reality headset that will be made available from early 2024.

The price for this beta headset starts at $3499.

A few things.

Let’s talk about what the Vision Pro is:

  • IT IS the start of a new category: consumer facing mixed reality device.

  • IT IS a phenomenal amount of tech squeezed into what is basically curved glass.

  • IT IS (in textbook Apple behaviour) a smart application and combination of existing technologies + some Apple magic. eg: eye-tracking and foveated rendering (the technology that only keeps high fidelity focus on the areas of the screen your eyes are looking at, delivering energy and memory efficiencies) has already been in PS VR2.

  • IT IS v. exciting purely from a future-gazing entertainment perspective. The Disney+ integration (easily the best part of the entire presentation – casual Bob Iger) is great but I highly doubt it’ll stay VP-exclusive – so I look forward to that rolling out on other VR platforms eventually.

  • IT IS (again, textbook Apple) a great communications exercise in how to root technology advancement in human-centric situations.

Let’s talk about what the Vision Pro isn’t:

  • IT ISN’T anything to do with the sodding metaverse. And you can take Apple’s word for that. In fact, the M word wasn’t said, presented or inferred once throughout the entire 2hr WWDC event. Telling. More on this shortly…

  • IT ISN’T – with its reported battery life of 2hrs – going to let you watch Everything Everywhere All At Once (2hrs 19mins) on a flight anytime soon.

  • IT ISN’T going to change anything for at least 18-24mths. The US release date is scheduled for ‘early 2024’ with more countries to follow later in the year. Volume targets are low (and lowering) so don’t expect the THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR device to do iPhone numbers ay. That said, this early announcement specifically at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC – the clue’s in the name) gives devs a decent run up to get familiar with the tech and get some banging apps ready. So that’s exciting.

  • IT ISN’T going to get families wearing these goggles during family events (that whole section was proper Black Mirror / divorced dad y’all).

So yeah, that’s the Vision Pro. A glimpse of an exciting/immersive future.

It’s mega premium, classic Apple, and dick all to do with the metaverse.

Related: the AFP asked me for some commentary – you can read that here – and Jamie East invited me onto The Sunday 7 to chat about it too, you can listen to that right here (from about 4mins 40).


  • I spoke to Alex Hern at The Observer about bad consultants selling terrible experiences for his piece, ‘Is Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse over?

  • If you think your life is bad, it could be worse – you could’ve been the one that signed off ‘the Skodaverse’. Or worse: PWC in Decentraland.

  • The Voice announced a ‘Roblox-Style’ metaverse called The Voice Studios. The only catch? They built it in Decentraland. How crap must the experience be in DCL if your own press release has to use Roblox to get press coverage? 😂

  • Shed a tear for early retirement of the Chief Metaverse Officer role. According to AdAge, even the godmother herself has broadened out the title (print friendly link).

  • Meta announced the Quest 3 (who for?) and didn’t use the M word (are they shying away now? Finally?)

  • Everyone (well, everyone pictured in the middle of the image at the top of this section) says gaming is the ‘entry point’ to the metaverse, so why did the entire summer of gaming / Not-E3 / #SummerGameFest pass without a single developer or publisher mentioning it?

  • And of course, throughout Apple’s entire WWDC they didn’t say ‘metaverse’ once.

Hilariously these last two points were noted and raised to me by a client (I have the best clients).

To quote Ben Evans: it is impossible to know what someone means when they use the word ‘metaverse’. It is a meaningless joke. A waste of time, breath, and usually, money.

With the entire gaming industry, Apple, and now seemingly Meta itself finally moving away from the word, will 2023 mean we’re finally binning the metaverse word off for good? It’s nearly been a year since I stood on stage and told you all it was waffle.

Glad everyone has caught up.



It’s been quite busy in the world of gaming. A whole host of announcements in/at Summer Game Fest meant that players will FEAST over the next 12-18mths.

Xbox by far and away had the best presentation of the show (you can watch the showcase, along with the Starfield direct deep dive right here).

Get Ready for the Xbox Games Showcase and Starfield Direct Double Feature  Airing June 11 - Xbox Wire

I’m not going to go into the details of everything but overall highlights for me were:

  • Fable (amazing trailer, no announcement date)

  • Star Wars Outlaws (the gameplay trailer at Ubi Forward was great)

  • New Prince of Persia (2.5d refresh, I’m in)

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 (rescue choppers, DUNE DLC!)

  • Hellblade II: Senua’s Saga (I cannot wait for this)

  • Starfield (seriously, looks nuts – No Man’s Sky and so much more)

  • Jusant (‘climb, fall 23’ – is a great line)

  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage (new AC based on old AC? Sign me up)

  • Still Wakes the Deep (creepy af)

  • Dungeons of Hinterberg (love the style and setting)

  • Cyberpunk 2077: Phanom Liberty (I hope this is good)

  • Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (I am unashamedly a fan of all things Avatar so will absolutely be all over this)


There has never been a better time to get into gaming.


Next question.

What am I playing?

  • I finished Jedi Fallen Order (excellent – this is a good article on the game’s main mode of transport) and downloaded Jedi: Survivor to play but didn’t get around to playing it because…

  • …I went on holiday and finally finished The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the way and then immediately picked up Tears of the Kingdom upon arrival (I’m three regional phenomena down, one to go) along with Advance Wars. Its inarguable that TotK is not a great graphical experience but the physics and the story are incredible. On this point specifically, Jonathan is excellent.

  • Then Street Fighter 6 came out and I’ve struggled to put that down (global ranking of Bronze + 2 stars and 3517 – wanna fight?)

  • AND THEN Diablo IV came out and I’ve been playing a ton of that too.

And while I’m still doing regular raids with the gang, I’m really behind on my Destiny 2 story beats. I’ve got a pitch next week so hopefully some time will free up after that…? MAYBE?!

What are you playing?


A big thanks to the people and PR team at PLATFORM BAR. A few weeks ago they invited (and paid for) me and a pal to their brand new venue in Canary Wharf (right by Crossrail) for an evening of pizza, beers, and gaming.


With a boozy gamer-themed cocktail bar and pizzas (along with vegan options for the dairy intolerant massive), each booth has a PS5 and Nintendo Switch on hand to play a whole ton of different games while you booze.

Like I said, Platform paid for our whole evening – I have to declare that – but the way it’s set up and ran (by clearly a bunch of awesome nerds – and it’s ace), we had such a great evening (I don’t have to say that).

Want to know more? Here’s the website (there’s one in Shoreditch too, natch).


I know this is all tangential/adjacent to the above thing but we’ve got so much in this edition I felt like it needed to be broken out on its own.

Sorry, I can’t get enough of this.


Briefed by Activision, designed and rendered by Diva (in Unreal Engine 5, no less), painted by Global Street Art on media bought my Rapport WW – this is some of my favourite work we’ve every produced (not just London either).

It’s just stunning. More here.

We also did this sick bus for Square Enix and their incoming launch of Final Fantasy XVI (free demo available right now).


I think flames might be a thing.


Other stuff of note from Diva towers:


Took the eldest to see Spider-Verse last week and in the minorest of minor spoilers, there is a moment in the movie where it spins a web out to a Lego-variant Spider-Verse. This alone is awesome. The story behind it is even better.

How a 14-Year-Old Came to Animate a Scene in ‘Across the Spider-Verse





There’s no way I’ve covered everything off I wanted to cover but I woke up this morning and wanted to write. Thanks for indulging me. It’s 15:58 and I’m writing this final section to you.

I won’t be sending it til later though – it’s Father’s Day and the kids wanna play Fortnite. I’ll see you again soon gang.

Big love,

Whatley out x

Five things on Friday #346

Things of note for the week ending Sunday April 23rd 2023


Good morning from 11:28am on a gentle starting Saturday morning. The kids are playing Fortnite and Cult of the Lamb and I am booting up Substack to see if I can get a newsletter out at some point this weekend – shall we see how we go?

How are you?

It’s been a good social week. Caught up with some of the old Digitas lot (bye Lauren!), managed an extremely rare pint with my brother, and then ended the week cooking a steak dinner for (and opening a significant amount of wine with) some dear friends who hadn’t all been together since before the Covid times.

A heart-filling few days.

As an aside and perhaps as your first bonus thing for this week’s edition, I came across this smoky Brussels sprouts recipe as an interesting side dish to go with the steak and it turned out to be deeeeeelish. So if you can find a reason to give that a go, do so 🙂

While I’m here, here’s a huge thank you to everyone that pledged their support for the Diva Agency/Warchild Tough Mudder attempt in August. Times are tough and with the London Marathon this weekend I am reminded of just how much people are giving already.

At the time of writing there are 3623 subscribers to this newsletter with a 48% open rate. If you all gave one pound then that’d get us well over halfway to our target in an instant. Donate now.

PS. There are a bunch of us doing it from Diva so if you do donate, please yell something like ‘Go Whatley!’ in the comments of the page so I know that one was for me 😉

Where were we?

Ah yes, the newsletter. I hope this edition of Five things on Friday finds you well and healthy. Spring is springing – AT LAST – and the sunshine is warming the soul. I’ve no idea what we’ve got in the link bank this week but let’s open up the ol’ inbox and see what’s what.

Shall we?



With Twitter going through the motions of its dying days, there are new potential platforms and old beckoning beacons popping up all over the place – all trawling behind the slow motion death of the blue bird to see how and where they might attract departing users.

Artifact, Hive, Post, Mastodon, Notes, Blue Sky… (and these are just the ones from memory) – there are a lot. FWIW, judging by feeds this weekend, Blue Sky is the current attempt du jour that everyone is talking about. It was Notes last week, it could be something else in May. It’s not going well, is it?

The reality is, there won’t ever be a single and complete replacement for Twitter. Its growth over time – from piss poor presidents to newspaper celebrity sourcing – will never be repeated. Its original journey from micro-blogging platform to ‘town square’ to news platform, took well over a decade to happen. And while I don’t doubt that new platforms could experience overnight success (hello TikTok), what Twitter was is gone.

Which leads me to the question headlining Thing One this week:

What, if anything, do we want from social media?’

An indirect quote from Bob Merberg, author of the Substack , it’s a question that I have kept coming back to all week.

What do we want want from social media?

Twitter has been such a huge part of my life (and frankly: my career) for so long, I am finding it hard to let it go.

Instagram I gave up on in 2019 (here’s why). But truth be told, with so many of my friends active over there I have been considering a return. Then I think ‘Hang on, what is it for?’ Do I need to go all in on what Rabbi Jeremy Wieder calls ‘Conspicuous Consumption’. Nah. That’s not for me.

One of the reasons I’m enjoying dipping in and out of Substack Notes so much is that the content and the community is completely different. It feels small – and that’s OK – but the conversation is good, engaging and – for me at least – it feels wholesome. But it’s not (old) Twitter.

But then what do I need / use Twitter for? News updates. Friends being funny. Writing. Photos. The sense of connection. I follow a well pruned list of people that talk about such a wild varied bunch of topics – with a handful of opposing opinions thrown in for good measure – that I nearly always enjoy reading it (as a result the new ‘For You’ tab has been broadly very good IMO but that’s literally it).

Last year, in an article I wrote for The Drum about gaming, I recalled social object theory as a way to put all the garbage about the metaverse (vs video games) into perspective.

In 2005, tech founder and investor Jyri Engeström coined the term ‘social object theory’. Building on the work of sociologist Karin Knorr Cetina, Engeström came up with – and subsequently implemented – this theory as part of his explanation as to why some social media networks succeed and some fail.

Social media networks need objects. Or, as Jyri put it: ”Social network theory fails to recognize such real-world dynamics because its notion of sociality is limited to just people.”

Simply ‘connecting people’ is not enough. For example, Engeström argued at the time that much of the success of Flickr (remember Flickr?) was because user-generated photography served as social objects around which conversations of social networks could form. And he was right.

This perhaps goes a long way to explain the success of Instagram (and, if we had more time, would no doubt provide a decent foundational argument for the vacant pornography of trauma that you see displayed on LinkedIn every day). However, we’re not here to talk about that.

The point is: when online, people need something to talk about. They need ’object centered sociality’. If you’re gathering, then the reason you gather needs to have purpose. On Instagram, it’s that amazing photo you took at Coachella. On Facebook, it’s your nan’s birthday. In Whatsapp, it’s the memed version of your best mate’s most recent terrible opinion. Posting images, videos, links, news stories, the latest misinformation from your Next Door community… it’s all what brings us together.

I’m reminded of that every time someone says ‘What about Linkedin?’ which, while I do think it has improved of late, is nowhere near as valuable for me personally (as I guess it is professionally – but then, that’s the point, right?) – so I’m not hauling ass that way anytime soon.

(as an aside, if you are, then Mat Morrison is very good on what does and doesn’t work over there – algorithmically speaking)

All this and I still don’t have an answer to the question.

The Mrs and I work hard to keep our kids off social platforms (like, I think I can count on one hand the number of photos I’ve personally shared). Instagram babies, they ain’t. And why should they be? Imagine realising your face was already been scraped for AI tools before you turned 13? Or finally being allowed on Facebook and realising the platform already knows everything about you before you’ve even hit publish on your first update. Big yikes.

I wrote about this in 2008 (!)

However, one does wonder, in the years to come when the newborns of the late noughties find their way into school, will a new elite group be the rage in the playground? The Facebook Kids — whose parents embraced this new digital wave completely, and used it to track the entirety of their youngling’s lives to date…

And when the time comes, will these ‘Blog-Babies’ be given the logins to their blog like some twisted digital version of the keys to their first car? Or the first $100 from their lifelong trust fund? Of course, but only when they come of age, so to speak.

Could the parents become precious over this personal history?

‘My child ruined/deleted his blog’ is a Jerry Springer/Jeremy Kyle show waiting to happen…

Swap out ‘blog’ for ‘Facebook’ or even ‘TikTok’ and we’re not far off where we are today.

And I still don’t have an answer to the question.

But you know what, maybe we don’t need a definitive answer.

Maybe it’s just a good question to hold in your head whenever you’re hovering over that share/post/publish/toot/tweet button?

Try it for a week and let me know. I’m interested to hear what happens.

What do you want from social media?


Confession: I don’t listen to that many podcasts. I don’t. Being able to sit and listen to something for 35-40mins is a luxury that I rarely get*. Occasional solo long drives or train travels tend to be where and when I get to indulge, and even then that’s when I remember (and not seat dancing to whatever’s on the radio).

To that point, I’ve had to go in and out of London a bit of late so I’ve been catching up. So here are a few decent things I’ve heard recently:

  1. First up, Dr Menaal Munshey on the excellent One Question podcast addressing a response to the question ‘Can we rewrite the rules of leadership’ through the lens of female leadership (aka: the best leadership) and what leadership means working as an immigrant living between countries while at the same time battling on the frontlines of the climate crisis. This is really bloody good.

  2. Jo Arden on Uncensored CMO is quite great and worth a listen. Sad we never got to work together when we were both at Publicis, she sounds brilliant and I’m pleased as punch Ogilvy has a decent CSO again. They’re lucky to have her.

  3. And finally, for something a bit left-field, I can’t remember how but I happened upon an episode of Conan O’Brien’s podcast ‘Conan needs a friend’ and of the small handful that I’ve listened to, it’s really well put together and the guests are great.

These are all Spotify links, obvs. But they’re all available on Apple and almost certainly literally anywhere else where you get your podcasts.


*It’s probably why I’m still only on the October edition of Season 10’s (aka 2022’s) excellent Midlife Gamer ‘Year of Shame’ podcast. Sorry lads.


I mean, I can’t kick off this week’s gaming section without SCREAMING about the drop dead gorgeous EDGE COVER that the amazing PR team at Diva managed to secure for HYPER LIGHT BREAKER.

You can check out the gameplay trailer right here – and I believe Early Access is coming to Steam later this year….

Way back when video games magazines did front cover freebies the amazing and much read/missed Nintendo Magazine System gave away an actual Street Fighter II VHS on the cover. I was in school when this happened and I’m fairly sure I even had the video as well – and back then I was such a Nintendo boy through and through, I remember when this was on the shelves. Retro news experts Time Extension has a great piece on of how all that happened.

Side: there’s a FREE Street Fighter 6 demo inbound. It’s available right now for PlayStation owners and Xbox and Steam follows next week. GET IT. Game is out in June so this is a good way/time to get on top of the new systems…

What else can I tell you?

Quick Game News + Updates

  • Cult of the Lamb DLC has finally been dated. It comes out ON MONDAY (April 24th) and is a FREE UPDATE! Yes!

  • This is a great interview with the CEO of Black Girl Gamers.

  • There were a couple of 20+ minute long publisher broadcasts that are worth catching up on if you missed them: Indie World Showcase from Nintendo and a Final Fantasy XVI focused State of Play from PlayStation. The former is great for just a ton of new indies coming soon to Switch and the latter is, of course, a deep dive on the all new all different FFXVI. I haven’t properly played a Final Fantasy game since Crystal Chronicles on GameCube so I’m looking forward to this. (I should say: Square is a client but I think y’all know me well enough by now to know I’m not being paid to write this 😁). Check out both broadcasts – anything interesting there for you?

  • Diablo IV is getting another open beta next month.

  • If you have an older Nintendo Switch you might have a joy-con that suffers from stick drift. I do – well – I did. It’s past-tense because Nintendo just announced (in the UK at least, I think they’re doing it elsewhere too) that it will repair any joy-con, for free, no matter when or where it was bought. Details are here. I sent mine off this week and it was EASY. UPS turned up less than 24hrs later and it’s currently being repaired at Ninty. Lovely.

  • Must watch: occupational burnout in video games.

  • Pokemon Sleep – a game which you play BY SLEEPING – is coming this year!

What am I playing?

I finished DREDGE (details on that in last week’s edition). It’s a great game and you should play it. I found it to be reminiscent of the Fighting Fantasy Adventure books from my school days and that can only be a good thing. Well written, relatively short, and quite chill at times. It’s the sleeper hit of the year – don’t miss it.

Next up, I’ve decided to take one final swing at getting into Jedi: Fallen Order. If you don’t know, JFO is an in-canon story that takes place shortly after the events of Revenge of the Sith (Order 66 etc – IYKYK). With the sequel, Jedi: Survivor, due any day now, I thought ‘Why not give it a shot?’ (I’d already tried it 2-3 times and just didn’t get on with it – turns out, as quite a few people told me, the first hour is tricky to get through but you’re off planet and exploring, it really picks up).

Well. I smashed through the first hour and…

I am in love.

More photos at this thread.

If you haven’t played JFO, this is me recommending you should.

If you have played JFO, were you a fan? Are you getting Survivor?

Hit that comment/reply/notes button and tell me.


I’ll keep this brief.

Word is: Facebook/Meta’s has reportedly stopped pitching metaverse rubbish to advertisers. Instead it is said to be focusing on selling in AI as well as buffing its Instagram-based TikTok clone, Reels (with deep discounts up to 25% off).

I am shooketh.

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe a single thing that they say but y’all remember the pivot to video, right? You remember the ol’ ‘over-inflating view counts by about 900%’ routine, right?

Facebook’s er… ‘loose’ …relationship with the truth (and the above just one example, there are many many more) has never been something I’ve been comfortable with and so when the metaverse thing came along I was like ‘Wait, what?’

It only took five years for the pivot to video to be pulled apart as a pack of lies. The wheels coming off its metaverse announcement has only taken 18mths. Things are improving!

It’s almost like spunking a load of money and time on a thing that nobody wants or has asked for with no proof or measurement of any real or meaningful ROI whatsoever has been a complete and utter waste of time. Almost.

‘OK James, but when you say ‘a load of money’, how much are we talking?’ – that’s a great question. Well, it’s a LOT. And to put it into perspective, let me borrow a slide from Ben Evans’ excellent February 2023 presentation ‘The New Gatekeepers’.

Ell. Oh. Ell.

Related: Facebook has a new ‘opt-out’ form. Here’s how well designed that is. I think they might’ve done it purpose? I can’t be sure.


The Grudge Report
What Kind of Dad Are You?
Hey, beautiful, badass Dadas! Whether you’re a Workin’ Dad or a S.A.H.D., there are so many different kinds of new fathering styles to read about, it can be downright overwhelming! And we get it: Bumping into other judgy, “perfect dads” (with perfect bodies) at preschool dropoff or at the grocery store can definitely get you doubting yourself and your li…
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No further questions, your honour.




As I start to wrap things up on this week’s edition of Five things on Friday, it’s coming up 915am on Sunday April 23rd.

The Mrs is away this weekend so it’s been Dad Club this weekend. The youngest wants to make a bolognese this afternoon so I think we’ll have to get up and head to Tesco shortly. Might watch Superman II as well.

Let’s see how we go.

Thank you for reading this week’s edition. If you enjoyed reading it, please forward it on to your team or your friends and maybe I’ll see you next time.

Whatley out x

Thank you for reading Five things on Friday. This post is public so feel free to share it.


Five things on Friday #345

Things of note for the week ending Friday April 14th 2023


Sup gang.

Welcome to #345 of Five Things on Friday.

This week’s edition is brought to you by the letters ‘W’ for winner winner winner winner winner winner and ‘P’ for ‘physio’ and ‘pints’.

An especially lovely welcome to all the new subscribers that found FToF via Substack’s new Notes feature (more on that in a bit). I hope you like what you see and, for the record, just because THIS edition has arrived on a Friday, please do not let that set any expectation that future editions will do the same. Fair warning.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope this finds you relaxed and well. If you’re neither of those, then take a big deep breath – and start over.

All will be OK.

This is Five Things on Friday. I am James Whatley.

Why not stick around for a while?



Like 99% of every other Substack user/reader/author this week, I’m opening with a bit about Substack Notes.

If you missed the announcement (it’s here), Substack Notes is Substack’s new (but definitely not an attempt to replace Twitter but almost certainly is that because oh my god have you even seen it) ‘social’ platform.

Billed as a way for Substack ‘writers to be able to post short-form content and share ideas with each other and their readers’, so far it feels like a strong start.

Here’s some early thinking on why

  1. Notes feels like the early days of a few of the original truly social platforms (Friendfeed, Jaiku, Twitter 1.0, etc). Familiar faces, early adopters – yes – but also the novelty of a new platform that is still figuring out what it is and allowing its users to help define that. This is a good thing.

  2. Notes also feels like a lighter lift than other services but with potential for deeper connection. Substack has said itself that it doesn’t want Notes to be like ‘legacy social networks [where] people get rewarded for creating content that goes viral’ and as a result the content there has a completely different vibe. The dopamine driven commitment to the constant. checking. of. notifications. is non-existent. And we all need less of that in our lives.

    It also means: no ads. The business model is subscriber driven. Not ads/views etc. So y’know – no crypto bros trying to scam you every 3rd or 4th tweet.

  3. Writers reading, reading, recommending and subscribing give Notes an air of Google Reader (RIP) and I have missed that ever since Google dispatched GReader the ol’ Google Graveyard in the sky. On the that similarity alone Notes is worth checking out.

  4. ‘Yes James, but what what we really want to know is: what does this mean for brands?’

    I’m telling you now, this is almost certainly the wrong question to ask.

    At a personal level, I think Notes could be a great discovery engine. I do! For those that use it at least. From established writers and authors through to industry or category leading thought leaders, Notes is already working for me in either finding new content from people I already knew (but didn’t know they published) or finding great new people/content, recommended by people whose content and opinions I already enjoy and trust. And that, again, can only be a good thing.

    From a professional standpoint, I am sure there will be a bRaNd AcTiVaTiOn on there by the end of the month (‘Consumer? what consumer? I want trade press!’) but that would be missing the point of the platform. This is about great content written and published by talented people. I’m hoping that continues.

  5. Finally, Notes is the new kid on the block. With platforms suffering from their own issues (whether thats egomaniacal ownership, crap like-driven content, or simply a terrible onboarding experience – there are more and I could list them but I’ll run out of room before we get to Thing 2), having options is both welcome and healthy.

Substack is not without its own problems (Casey Newton is good on this) and it will need to get a lot sharper on its content moderation policies if it intends to get ahead of the game. In the short term, having a 35m install base is a pretty good head start I’d say – and if they make enough noise, the policies will follow.

Notes is a thing.

And I’m giving it a go in earnest.

As I have Noted below:

If you’re in, you’re in.

If you’re not, then maybe it’s worth a go? I think so.

Depends how you feel.

My profile is here (vanity URLs, when?) and I’m checking the notifications tab on the reg. So… Let me know, yeah?


I have no idea what happened between now and the last time we spoke but honestly suddenly everyone just went: ‘Oh, summer blockbuster season is it? You all better have some trailers then’


Before we move onto the next trailer, we need to give out some points. First, ten points to The Mary Sue who shortly after the trailer dropped put out this perfectly executed MCU-esque ‘How to watch the Barbie movies in order’. Outstanding.

Second, whomever is in charge of the Barbie marketing has got themselves some wicked talent on their team. The make-your-own Barbie post was a stone cold slice of fried social media gold genius.


I really hope they smash this one.

One day I’ll tell you a story about this film. Not today (maybe after the third one drops – movie, not trailer).





Points to Aardman for just Aardmanning the hell out of their effort.

There’s probably more that I’ve missed. What’s are you most looking forward to out of the above? Hit reply! Leave a comment! Sent a Note!


Some great stuff this week. Let’s get into it.

EA Sports FC has released its new branding and I LOVE IT. Regular readers will know how closely I’ve been following the EA/Fifa (Fifa who?) fallout and I’ve been keeping keen eyes on every single development as it happens.

So when the new brand logo and lockup dropped earlier this month, well – I was excited.

[video-to-gif output image]

Based on the ever-present triangle that has floated above FIFA EA Sports Football games for decades, and in a world of balls and boxes, this feels fresh and different yet already familiar. I really really like it. Great job, gang.

As David Jackson, VP of Brand at EA SPORTS FC put it:

“Triangles are the shape through which the modern game is most fluently expressed, from intricate passages of passing play, to the tactical genius of Cruyff. ‘Cause, effect, response’ are the three sides of how the game is played best. Triangles are also essential to EA SPORTS most famous football experiences, from the isometric viewing angles of our very first 8-bit experiences, to the player indicator symbol above every athlete in every game – even the smallest atomic unit of our games, the polygons that construct everything you seen on screen – are triangular.’“

Join the club at the official website or if, like me, you want to go deep on the branding side of how this came to be, this is an excellent post on all that.

It’s gorgeous.

Game news bites

The interesting thing about the Ukie thing is that it is REAL data. Instead of the Linkedin HYPE about ZOMG GAMING IS LIKE THE TOTALLY AMAZING (AND CLIO AWARD WINNING) THING YOU SHOULD ALL BE INVOLVED IN RIGHT NOW and the post-web3 nerds suddenly yelling about how they’re the most important people to talk to right now… the Ukie data actually paints a realistic picture of of the broader opportunity at large.

And that’s something real marketers should genuinely be trying to get their heads around. You can call me AT ANY TIME btw. You know who you are.

Video Games x Tipping

I think I mentioned this last edition but the Razer Kishi I picked up in the Amazon Spring sale really turned out to be a fantastic purchase.


Some people prefer the ‘Backbone’ but same same and, as throw it in your bag and forget about it until you need it portability goes, the general concept and execution is a lot lighter than a Switch or a Steamdeck (and considerably cheaper to boot).

It got me so into Dead Cells (picked up ‘free’ as part of Google Play’s ‘Play Pass’ subscription), that I ended up double dipping on console – getting the base game as part of PS Plus and then shelling out £20 for the complete DLC collection.

It reminded me a topic of conversation that came up recently in March when I appeared on a panel for JP Morgan (I haven’t written about this here yet, maybe I am now). We were talking about payments and how the concept and culture of tipping (while inherently US-centric in the level of expectation placed around it) does not exist in video games.

I made the point at the time that the player equivalent of tipping devs for their game is arguably what is known as in gaming nomenclature as the ‘double dip’ – buying a game again (oftentimes but not always) for another platform.

Dead Cells was that for me. I got the base game and DLC as part of a sub but I wanted to show the dev my true enjoyment so I ponied up another £20 to let them know. Spiritfarer, one of my all time favourite games, I’ve bought on ever single platform I own (a not uncommon among the hardcore ‘triple dip’). That game had such a profound emotional impact on me, I felt I had to let the developer know somehow. Double/triple-dipping was the way I did that.

Now what if you didn’t do that? What if on a digital store front, on Xbox or PlayStation for example, after you’d completed a game, you got an option to thank the devs further. I don’t know. There are other options, right? Of course there are. Buy more games. Buy merch. Buy the season pass. Whatever. I get it. But for the smaller fry, ‘buy the devs a cup of coffee’ – that’s something else, right?

It’s different way of viewing the developer/player relationship. One that I’ll gladly return to another day (more so if you’re reading this and think – yeah, actually, let’s make that happen).

What am I playing?

  • Still bashing through Dead Cells (the Castlevania DLC – wheeeeee!)

  • Picked up Terra Nil on mobile via Netflix Games. An excellent little game. And the concept art is terrific.

  • I finally pulled the trigger on DREDGE (leader image of this week’s edition) and I am loving it.

  • The kids are nuts into Cult of the Lamb (ahead of the DLC dropping, thanks for that, WASD (see FToF #344).

What are you playing?


Way back in 2013, this happened:


Me and my old Expedia UK team from Ogilvy London completed Tough Mudder and raised over £1000 for charity.

You can read: Team Ogilvy takes on Tough Mudder on – a blog post! What year is this?!

Rooting around in the cupboards this past Christmas, I found my old 2013 Tough Mudder t-shirt and thought ‘It’s 2023 this year, a ten year bookend to the last time I did this would be something wouldn’t it?’

And, well, one thing led to another and here we are.

At the last count FOURTEEN (!!!) muddy funsters from Diva have signed up to walk/run/climb/complete the 15k Gloucestershire Tough Mudder in August (only four months away – yikes) and the tension is building.

Earlier in the year, once we had our team locked – we each discussed what charity we would want to support as a team and, after a very quick/virtual show of hands we landed on War Child.

Diva has a history of supporting War Child (raising money through streams and charity events in the past) and, the combination of this year being the 30th year of War Child’s charity efforts alongside the ongoing situation senseless war in Ukraine, we felt this would be the right place to put our efforts.

So with that in mind, we finally got around to setting up our Justgiving page this week and while I absolutely acknowledge times are tight, if you’re able to sponsor us even just a little bit, it would be very welcome.

And hey, if you’re up for running with us – you can sign up here.

Please sponsor: Diva does Tough Mudder (will you be the first one?) 🙂


Late on Wednesday night my phone started going slightly nuts as the OREO EU team picked up SIX Clio Awards for the Xbox ‘Cheat Cookies’ campaign and partnership.

graphical user interface

You can see the case film over on the Clios website but for those wanting the detail, the strategy work for this campaign was literally the last thing I finished and handed over before I left to start my job at Diva.

At the time I was EU brand lead for Mondelez bakery for Publicis, part of a blended team of Digitas UK (strategy) and Saatchis Dusseldorf (client and creative), and we all worked so so so so hard to get this over the line.

Giving a 45min presentation on the cultural significance of the XYBA buttons to convince the bigwigs to make the not-insignificant investment on SIX different cookie embossments is not something I’ll forget in a hurry 😁 – and actually, thinking on it now, makes winning SIX Clios taste that little bit sweeter. 🙂

Well done to the whole team (from the dedicated blended international agency team to the bold multi-market clients across MEU) that played a part in this one. Well. Earned.

It takes a village, right?





Well here we are.


You made it to the end.

But our princess is in another castle.

See you next time,

Whatley out x