Five things on Friday #358

Things of note for the week ending Friday November 17th, 2023.

As I write to you now, it’s Thursday. 18:44.

It has been quite the fortnight.

First, a week or so ago we saw the completion of what I think might be the biggest project Diva has ever delivered (see above), featuring lenticular bus wraps, a 3D Piccadilly deep screen, and a monster full building projection mapped takeover of London County Hall – all in the name of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.

You can see the full video of everything put together over on Linkedin – and not a single fake out-of-home execution – or ‘FOOH’ – among them.

The London County Hall projection was an incredible showcase centrepiece and with the blessing of London County Hall management, some consulting with military veterans, and an agency delivery record of four weeks from final-brief-to-execution, it went up on the evening of Friday November 3rd, with a showing every 15mins from 5pm. Absolutely nuts.

If you were walking by you definitely would’ve seen it (I could hear it the moment I stepped out of Westminster tube station; see this video I shot from the waterfront – that sound is live).

All credit to the team for delivering the work to such a high standard – with the client (Activision), the great partners (Rapport and Pixel Artworks) and of course, the staff at London County Hall who were brilliant all the way through.

Second, tomorrow (Friday) we deliver the second two parts of a mega three-part pitch for another huge project (due middle of next year). Part one felt good. Cross your fingers for parts two and three, please.

On top of that there’s another huge project moving through the agency (going live VERY SOON) with a lot of moving parts (at least 26) and, in a time when we should be beginning to wind down for Christmas, it feels like we’re revving up. It’s great to have the energy of the team all pulling towards the same goal and it’s really great to see the amazing work slowly come to fruition. But yeah, I’m looking forward to resting this weekend and I’m sure the team are too.

How are you?

Last edition I asked that and got some LOVELY replies. So, y’know, hit that reply button (or comment, or restack or whatever you do to read this) and say hi.

For this week’s edition, because of all the WERK I think we might be a light on content but let’s see how we go.

Shall we head to the things?



31 days. 31 reflections. 31 things to love.

And. I. Love. This.

Aisha Singleton writes:

‘I’m not just a black woman during Black History Month, I inhabit this skin all year round, and happily so, but sometimes there can be a disregard around how intersectionalities can affect your professional life.’

They are all gorgeous.

And you can read all of them right here.

So go ahead and do that and then go thank Aisha and let her know how they made you feel.


We’re going to dive right in with another thing I found on Linkedin recently (stay with me, I swear it’s of value).

My dear friend Marshall Manson was asked recently asked to try and capture a few of his key principles for leadership. He did that, of course, but then also shared those principles in the post linked below.

He didn’t number them but I have and there are 18 all told.

I’m not going to repeat them all here however Marshall does open with this belter:

Most important: Do the right thing for the right reasons. If that goes against someone’s rules, be ready to explain or face the consequences. Be as transparent as possible about your decisions and reasoning with anyone who shows interest.

I’ve worked with Marshall. I have seen this in action (if you know him, ask him about when he decided he wanted to hang a bell in the Ogilvy offices at Sea Containers – it’s one of my favourite stories). As principled men go, he’s one of the best.

Go read Marshall Manson’s 18 principles on leadership, they’re so good I think I might turn them into a poster or something.


My main reading recommendation this week is this week’s edition of the . With a well-researched look at Saudi Arabia’s gaming strategy, George Osborn puts together a compelling deep dive on where the oil money is pouring and why.

Video Games Industry Memo
Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Strategy: Video Games Industry Memo, 16/11/2023
We dive deeply into Saudi Arabia’s video games strategy Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2 head The Game Awards nominations Super Mario RPG leads a gradually quietening release slate…
Read more

Good words, George.

This week in Fortnite

Quick news bites / gaming-related interesting stuff

What am I playing?

After finishing Spider-Man 2 I wanted to find a smaller indie game to explore/adore and I have found that in a gorgeous little game called Jusant (pictured, top). It’s only a few hours long and as such, I managed to finish it last night (it’s lovely). So now I’m back bouncing between Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Super Mario Wonder ,and a shiny new edition of Modern Warfare III (thanks for the code, Activision). I think I’ve got enough to get me through to the end of the year (!) but we’ll see how we go.

I definitely want to play Alan Wake: Remastered (and then the new AW2), I’m also hoping I can clear the slate enough by 2024 so I can make a start on Baldur’s Gate 3 in January but again let’s SEE HOW WE GO.

What are you playing?

And finally this week…

Another week in games, another week of devastating lay off news across the category. Once again all I can do is point anyone impacted by these redundancies to the relentless Amir Satvat and his excellent work over on Linkedin (that most recent post featuring links to a wide range of resources and support). Amir has also run the numbers on job vacancies vs people looking – it’s not great but it’s still important knowing.

I hope it’s helpful.


With Rory Sutherland and James Hoffman.

Anyone who has ever worked at Ogilvy for any decent amount of time will almost certainly have a story about Rory. My own one is when I offered to drive him to the station after a client meeting once (‘Don’t kill the vice chairman’, my AD said to me as he got in the care). Rory spent the entire time asking questions about everything he could see – my phone choice (Android), my smartwatch (Pebble), car integration (non-existent) – and such was the distraction (combined with my relatively recent acquisition of a drivers licence and the many stop/start hills of St Alban’s) that I easily stalled the car a good six or seven times.


Anyway, in my mini book of Roryisms, I have a working/running theory. It’s not quite ‘Sutherland’s Law’. It might be a rule. Or simply a theorem. It goes like this: Rory’s public talks are a bit like that whole thing that happened with Eddie Izzard and Watchdog a few years back. Because he is such a consumer of data and information – and he’s processing it all the time – if you see him two weeks running then you might see or hear the same thing. If you see him at the end of one tour and the beginning of a new one, same deal.

Point is, since departing Ogilvy Towers, I try to time my Sutherland consumption to catch as much as new stuff as possible.

It was during one of these moments when I heard Rory talking about how hilarious and dangerous he thought YouTube could be. ‘One minute you’re looking at cat videos, the next you’ve ordered a three thousand pound Japanese coffee machine a man named James Hoffman told me about it’.

It’s a very Rory thing to say.

I like Rory. I like James Hoffman (you know who he is, he’s the YouTube coffee guy). And that comment stuck in my head. So when I saw that someone had managed to get them in both in the same room, to have coffee, and to chat about what drives consumer choices – well, I poured myself a hot black one (Aeropress) – and enjoyed every last word.

I hope you do too.


This week, in light of Meta’s recent introduction of a charge to avoid advertising regular reader, Tim, sent me this article: ‘Meta, subscriptions, and the EU’s Privacy Gordian Knot’ (linked at the bottom of this thing).

Before we get into it, I hadn’t heard of the Gordion Knot until this article was shared with me so, of course, I went away and looked it up.

Alexander Cuts the Gordian Knot painted in the late 18th/early 19th century. (Credit: Art Media/Getty Images)

The Gordion Knot can be traced back to Alexander the Great.


In 333 B.C, the Macedonian conqueror marched his army into the Phrygian capital of Gordium in modern day Turkey. Upon arriving in the city, he encountered an ancient wagon, its yoke tied with what one Roman historian later described as “several knots all so tightly entangled that it was impossible to see how they were fastened.”

Phrygian tradition held that the wagon had once belonged to Gordius, the father of the celebrated King Midas. An oracle had declared that any man who could unravel its elaborate knots was destined to become ruler of all of Asia.

According to the ancient chronicler Arrian, the impetuous Alexander was instantly “seized with an ardent desire” to untie the Gordian knot. After wrestling with it for a time and finding no success, he stepped back from the mass of gnarled ropes and proclaimed, “It makes no difference how they are loosed.” He then drew his sword and sliced the knot in half with a single stroke.

So of course, when applying this particular turn of phrase to the route through which Meta is solving the knotty problem it faces with EU legislation around data sharing it has indeed sliced right through it.

Eric Seufert’s here with an excellent take.




  • Sorry to to be the one to have to tell you but OREO x Xbox campaign I led the strat for went and won some more awards. This time EIGHT SILVER EFFIES. This is getting embarrassing now, lad. Come on.

  • How to swear at co-workers (a good read, this – I tend not to swear at co-workers. I swear at things. The work, the brief. The lack of time. But never people – at least, I like to think I don’t).

  • In what is potentially the most exciting thing I’ve read this week: ‘Brit Marling hopes to revisit ‘The OA’ – not yet but IT’S A SIGN! – in the meantime, watch her new show – A Murder at the End of the World’ #SavetheOA

  • What’s that? You want MORE Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij? OK fine.


It’s late now. I’m going to schedule this for 10am tomorrow morning and head to bed.

Before I do that, however, I want to leave you with two wildly different event recommendations.

First up is NJ Carter’s ‘Safe House Party’ looks great and is totally my vibe. It’ll be in Brentford on December 2nd and tickets are a fiver. All profits go to War Child.

Second is this event from BIMA x Good Shout: ‘Why Maternity is an EVERYONE issue’ on Dec 5th. Amy has asked me to specifically encourage MEN to attend. Tickets are £15ish and you are a man, please go. Thanks.

I am travelling when both of these are on so this is my way of saying ‘sorry I can’t be there’ to two people I think are excellent.

How will you be nice to people you think are excellent this weekend?

Until next time,

Whatley out x

PS. It’s my birthday next week so there might be an edition, there might not. Who knows? But if you see me in Soho, buy me a pint and say happy birthday would you? Thanks x

Five things on Friday #357

Things of note for the week ending Sunday November 5th, 2023.


As I write this entry to you now, it’s 23:11 on Thursday November 2nd. I’ve had a decent evening. My friend (and co-founder of Today Do This), Robbie has been over (hi mate). A poorly Mrs meant we had to skip a party and instead head home to eat chips, chat politics, and watch Kevin Eldon lose £83k on the celebrity edition of The Chase.

…/time leap/…

It’s now Saturday. It’s 22:00. We go again.

Last night, Friday, I was in Brixton seeing friends (old Oreo pals – and more). My mum had the kids and we partied late, stayed over, and slept in.

It was a great night – made all the better by a brief stop at Westminster on the way to see easily the biggest thing Diva has done since I joined the agency: a full building takeover of London County Hall for the launch of Call of Duty: Modern War III.

Literally painting the town red.

You can expect a full proper edit (with real actual drones, not fake ones) at some point next week. But in case you can’t wait, this is what it would’ve looked like to the several thousand people who were walking past at the time: I shot this video from the Westminster Thames Clipper pier on the north side of the river.

I can’t believe how great it was. That sound was live! And so loud. Mazin.

What else can I tell you?

Thank you to all the lovely replies last week. I’ve got to most of you. I think i’ve got two more left (will do it after I hit send on this – promise). It’s November. It’s my birthday soon. Better make some plans…

In the meantime however, it’s getting late – and I don’t think this will go out until Sunday. I’ve done a bit of prep on the links, so I know what’s going where. I’m hoping not too dilly dally too much with the opinion and just get you the juicy links. But let’s see how we go?

Shall we go then? To the things?



“Any questions?”

SNL Presents One Hour of David S. Pumpkins - YouTube

It’s been halloween this week and while it is customary to write about these things in the lead up to the event, I’ve spent perhaps more time than I should’ve laughing about and reflecting on DAVID S PUMPKINS again.

(I say ‘again’ because I’m adamant I’ve written about him before but you can bugger right off if you think I’m checking).

OK, so. David S. Pumpkins who?

Some of you will know who he is. Some of you won’t. Some of you will get this. Some of you won’t. The thing is, I am massively here for those of you the latter party.


If you have no idea what I’m talking about then of course you MUST watch the original SNL skit, right here (on Five things on Friday). Any questions?

And then, read the oral history (including the do-over).

A genuine highlight of my week.


“Data shows there’s no such thing as advertising ‘wear-out’, so save your new campaign budget and spend it on making your current ads effective for longer.”

Now I know, as someone who has spent most of his professional working life working on the creative side of the advertising business, admitting or sharing this information is a death knell on the retained agency’s need to launch a new and different brand campaign every year.

But the data is inarguable and if it means finding new and creative ways to share the same message, or more creative ways to drive effectiveness through additional channel rollouts, cut-downs, partnerships – etc (the point is, lads, your first idea shouldn’t just be a script, yeah?)

Ritson continues – in a pitch perfect description of how a good marketer works:

“Gaze back at the last decade and the effectiveness concepts line up beautifully. Any newly minted CMO who knows their advertising onions is going to follow the script.

They will appreciate the pre-existing size of their brand has a massive impact on current strategy and future impact.

They will use excess share of voice (ESOV) to assess the right overall level of advertising investment.

They will split it into long and short baskets based on the nature of their category, brand and market.

They will brief the correctly selected agencies on a handful of objectives, with clarity on target audiences and position.

The power of the creative idea will be paramount.

The work will need to be distinctive and studiously apply distinctive brand codes throughout. It will employ emotion, especially for the branding part.

The work will spread across multiple media channels in an integrated fashion. It will prioritise reach over extended frequency.

It will take into account the varied attention metrics of the different channels.

And the marketer will use a blend of econometrics, market testing and brand tracking to optimise the campaign’s effect, assess its ultimate impact and produce learnings ahead of its next iteration.

Whether all of this stuff then gets to be applied is an entirely different, more practical question.”

Aside from the broader point of the piece, which we’ll come to momentarily, that last part is bang on. I have worked with some incredible marketing directors- and you know when you get to the good ones because they’re the ones that have not only done the work but also are equipped with the toolset and ability to ask the right questions. All of which can only be at their disposal IF (big if) IF they’ve done the work outlined above. If.

So yeah, about Ritson’s point. Over 50,000 ads reviewed… and:

“There is no evident impact of how long the ad has been running on that ads’ performance…”

The full data (from multiple, well respected and well-researched agencies), seems to suggest if you’re rolling out a new brand campaign every year, then maybe that’s something you should reconsider.

Or, maybe better yet, perhaps delve back into the archives and see if there’s an old ad that demands a modern twist.

Go read Mark Ritson with your MUST READ Marketing read of the week, you’ll see what I mean.


We’ve had a fairly big gamery opening so I’ll try and keep this week’s section brief.

In last week’s edition of Five things on Friday, I mentioned how daft it was to make assumptions about EA’s apparent failure with the launch of FC24. Using incomplete data is a sure-fire way to end up with nothing more than ill-informed opinion.

Go the extra click, I said.
Double check the data, I said.
Given that the brand marketers at EA aren’t idiots, I thought FC24 would be OK. But let’s wait and see what happens at the earnings call, I said.

Well, the earnings call came and went and guess what? It turns out Electronic Arts and FC24 did alright after all.

Read more. And then agree with me on Linkedin, thanks x

‘…bUt rEtAiL SaLeS wErE dOwN 3o%?

Just go the extra click.
It isn’t hard.

Related: if you’ve ever gone near any version of FIFA, this podcast episode from The Athletic is a great listen.

Quick News Bites

And finally in the news:

Arkham Knight, the 2015 smash hit third and final (?) game in the superb Arkham Trilogy, hit the news this week as a skin from THE BATMAN (R-Patz version) was seemingly added then removed in the space of a few days.

Per the IGN article linked, it makes sense for this to be an early / accidental release to be timed with the slightly delayed arrival of the Arkham Trilogy on Nintendo Switch (originally slated for last month, now due in December). Either way, when (not if) it drops, I look forward to trying it out.

Regular readers will know Batman has a special place in my heart and he has followed me around in my career over the years.

I’ve worked on brand partnership campaigns for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (at 1000heads for Nokia), ARKHAM KNIGHT (at Ogilvy for Pizza Hut), and THE BATMAN (at Publicis EU for Oreo). But this is the first time two of those things have been smashed together in this way. It’s kinda nice.

Incidentally, if you’ve ever got a Batman brief in, I’m your man x

What is James playing?

Well, you’ll be wholly unsurprised to learn that I’ve completely finished Spider-Man 2. Platinum, the lot. This game has been incredible and I think a clear runner for my GotY. Insomniac Games’ dedication to emotional depth and growth, on top of a model that it knows works, is key to its success. So much depth.

I think my favourite missions were side quests (exploring the history of black music; flying with ‘sea birds’ – my heart). Arguably the first game that makes the PS5 a must-purchase machine.

FWIW, the whole thing clocked in at around 35hrs. YMMV. And I wouldn’t let young young children play this. There’s a couple of scenes in there – specifically with Kraven – that I would not want my 9 year old to see. FYI.

Once Spdey was out of the way, I also managed to knock over Cocoon. I’ve talked about this already but it’s on Game Pass and an amazing little puzzler (especially tricky towards the end) but I loved it.

So to answer the question, I’m playing

  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage. I want to finish this before moving to the recently purchase Alan Wake remaster (which I want to play before moving onto AW2)

  • The Finals Open Beta – what fun!

  • Aaaand I’m also one of the SIX MILLION people that have returned to Fortnite for the OG update. Insane.

What are you playing? 🙂


Austin Kleon — Maggie Smith, “Good Bones” The poem, originally...

Via Kayt Sukel on Threads.


And not one of them is Christmas-related. I promise. Not yet at least. We’re a good month away until I do any of that stuff.

We’ve not even had bonfire night yet for crying out loud.

So yeah, here are some ads that you have probably heard of or seen already but I felt like shining some light on because good work needs to be celebrated more.

I really like this triplicate of New EE ones that sit behind the New EE work from Saatchi & Saatchi and Digitas UK.

  1. EE Home. Switch off, drift off.

  2. EE Game. Turbocharge your gaming.

  3. EE Learn. Tools for all kids.

Huge credit to the client for signing off three large production TVCs to communicate three different messages in one distinctive creative expression. Outstanding music choices (across all three), and the editing and directing is superb. Honestly, I can’t love them enough – for all the reasons given and more.

Telecoms (in the UK at least) generally is hard. A saturated market with 98% coverage from all networks and hardware exclusives few and far between (what number iPhone are we up to now)?) – the general consensus of any commoditised marketplace, from a planning perspective at least, is that you either compete on price (big no no) OR you differentiate on brand.

This is why people pay £7 for Nurofen vs 99p for own brand of the same product.

And so it follows in Telecoms, right?

Wrong. EE has basically said ‘Yeah, no – we’re not doing that. We’re going to embrace all four of our four Ps of marketing and innovate on product, on customer experience, and on brand.

And all the better for it.

Can’t wait to see the effectiveness paper, gang 😘

PS. I used to work with some of this lot, I briefly touched some EE stuff YONKS ago. But none of this is my work, I just know the bunch behind them are mega talented x

I really like this new Uber One ad… ‘Best friends

CAN YOU IMAGINE being in the room when you’re pitching Asa Butterfield and Robert De Niro in a 3min ad with the line being ‘for people who eat food and go places’ – ?!

The audacity. I love it.

Congrats to all involved.

And finally, I really like this new Doritos Gaming AI tech one.

A gamer holds up a Doritos chip in an ad promoting the brand's crunch-cancellation software

See the ad.

Arguably this could be in the gaming section above but I’m putting it here because it’s actually mega refreshing to find a brand/game activation that not only works in a way to address a real player problem (I used to get so much grief from my mates for joining a Raid night with a packet of Thai Sweet Chili Sensations on the go) BUT ALSO uses technology in a meaningful and helpful way (vs say a ‘hand wavey BS’ way – you know who you are).

I’d be interested to know/see what the take up is and, of course, whether it works for all crisps or if it’s specifically Doritos.

If you’re a PC gamer, you can download this software here).
And you can read more about the whole campaign here.


Ten points to everyone.





Right. We made it. It’s 11:45am on Sunday November 5th.

I wanted to write quickly about some of the responses I’ve had to this section last week talking mental health.

Jay, for you – for your brother – I watched the Norwich City FC film ‘You are not alone’ – what an incredible piece of work. Thank you. I’m sharing it here, as promised.

Check in on those around you.

Holly, brilliant and bright-star-shining Holly, I’m sharing this excellent resource on how to find the right therapist or counsellor for you.

If you sometimes feel like your mental health suffers BUT you’re having an OK time of it at the moment, then this is the perfect time to find someone to talk to. Please don’t wait for it to hit crisis.

You men especially. There’s a danger zone and once you’re in it, the speed at which you’ll become a scarf on the back of a stadium seat is frightening.

You are not alone. And it’s OK to not be OK.

There are other ways out – and they don’t have to be final.

I promise.

Until next time,

Whatley out x

Five things on Friday #356

Things of note for the week ending Friday October 27th, 2023


It’s been a rough old week. After the Games Aid Gala a week or so ago I came down with a nasty flu (not the ‘rona) and I’m pretty sure that brought about a mild case of sinusitis with it. Not. Fun. Blergh. So I write this to you – well, at least – I start writing this to you at 19:08 on the evening of Friday October 27th.

I’ve no idea if this will go out on time (if at all) so let’s see how we go, shall we?

First thing first, how have you been? If you get this as an email, hit the reply button and tell me. I do like hearing from you and seeing/hearing what you’re up to. Don’t be a stranger etc 🙂

Second thing, our amazing launch work for Diablo IV got shortlisted for two Drum Awards earlier today (one for innovation (we built it in UE5 y’know) and another for just being spectacular, apparently). Which was a lovely to end the week.

So swings and roundabouts and all that.

Given the intermittent headache, I might just see if we can crack through this quickly this week – shall we try?




Johny Pitts on Lost in Translation at 20.

This did the rounds earlier this week and I’ve returned to it a couple of times since. I’m not sure why. A poignant reflection of a before time. Out of time. A movie that hasn’t dated well but along side that, and many other relevant points are explored thoroughly by this perfect piece from Johny Pitts.

A worthwhile read.


That may or may not include updates on Threads, the platform formally known as Twitter, and others. I know you probably get this news elsewhere but I would like to think my curation might be worth something…

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'mosseri Today at Meta's earnings, @zuck mentioned that there are just under 100M monthly actives for Threads A heartfelt thank you for being a part of this growing community. We're working on more updates to improve your experience, looking forward to building together.'

1. Threads nears 100m MAUs.

I mean, that’s some serious scale. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was wanging on about how Meta had sodded this up and how it was literally haemorrhaging users every single day. I guess they were all wrong and will be publishing retractions immediately? Cool, cool.

(fair play to Gruber, mind)

Bonus: EU support is coming. Polls and Gifs are now native to the platform. And more and more people arrive every day. See you there?

2. It’s been a year since that bellend bought Twitter.

It’s going as well as you can imagine.

On both of the above combined, is excellent (as always).

Twitter is dead and Threads is thriving
Programming note: Platformer will be off Monday to attend an event at the White House, at which we anticipate President Biden will announce an executive order about artificial intelligence. We’ll be back on Tuesday and may have something else cool for you on Friday…
Read more

3. Reality Labs continues to lose money.

Another $3.7bn for the most recent quarter to be precise (I love earnings call season), Zuck said/warned it would continue to do so – ages ago. But still. It’s gotta sting a bit, moreso when Threads just flies. The very definition of a long bet.


Forces for change.

British Vogue with this fantastic look at some of the brilliant women (along with some on point stats) carving out the future of what is basically the biggest form of entertainment in the world.

The fact is, there are an estimated 3.2 billion gamers in the world – this writer included – and by the end of last year the industry was worth a staggering £160 billion. You might not consider yourself a gamer, but there’s no getting away from gaming’s influence on our lives and culture. From prestige TV (see multi-Emmy nominated series The Last Of Us, based on the apocalyptic action-adventure game of the same name) to cinema (after Barbie, The Super Mario Bros Movie was this year’s second highest-grossing film) to the apps on your phone (Candy Crush Saga has, to date, been downloaded more than three billion times), it is, as video game executive Siobhan Reddy says, “the medium of our time”.

This is my must read of the week.



Long-time readers will know that I’ve been following the EAFC/Nu-FIFA launch closely – ever since it was announced in May of last year, in fact.

This week there was some commentary and reflection on the FC/FIFA switch sales being the cause of a ‘YoY sales decrease of 30%’ and, given that this year is the year that EA walked away from the cost-prohibitive FIFA licence and instead launched FC, some Linkedin punters were quick to highlight how ‘30%’ was in fact ‘the cost of brand’.

This is demonstrably untrue.

The problem with a certain section of marketers these days is the ease at which they want the answer to be simple. A one sentence definition to a problem that so swiftly and deftly explains everything away that it a) makes them look smart for spotting it and b) paints a picture of an easy fix.

When it comes to the EAFC ‘-30%’ number, first and foremost this is based solely on retail sales. Digital sales numbers are not often shared by the platform holders and so that data is hard, night impossible to know or pin down.

Making sweeping generalisations on incomplete data is a fool’s errand. Don’t worry, we’ll get to all the potential data points that might impact the -30% number in a moment however – if there’s one piece of advice that I always give to people it’s this: go the extra click.

Find out the data behind the headline and dig into the numbers, the trends, the macro, the micro, and then MAYBE make a strategic leap.

To come back to FC24’s sales, as much as I would LOVE to scream that this is ALL brand brand brand – of course I would! I’m a planner! – you can’t. Because being a good planner means poking holes in data. It means seeing and asking what else is missing; asking better questions and getting to better answers.

For example, what else could impact EAFC’s lower-than-last-year’s RETAIL sales (so discs, boxed, from a shop).


  1. Physical (vs Digital) sales continues to decline YoY (last count, 9/10 game sales were digital – vs 7/10 in 2022).

  2. 2023 is one of the most crowded AAA release windows in history.

  3. Not only that, but AAA ‘next gen’ games being £70 in an economic downturn (meaning if people are going to buy a game this year, will they buy last year’s rebadged FIFA or will they buy COD or Spidey or Mario or Baldur’s Gate or or or).

  4. Even at 30% down EAFC is still the second biggest boxed sale of the year (second only to Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom).

  5. FIFA 23 is widely regarded as a series high point – and core players have grumbled there’s not enough difference between FIFA23 and FC24 (apart from on Nintendo where the game has been the same since 2019 – and FC24 has actually seen an uptick on last year’s – because the game is actually different – at last).

The point is: FC24 would be ice-skating uphill no matter what name was on the box.

And on top off all the above, it has invested well and wisely on the first step of the LONG while others scream and shout about the SHORT.

EA brand marketer’s aren’t idiots and when you scratch the surface all this, I’m pretty EAFC is going to be OK.


Let’s have a look at EA’s next earnings (due next week) and see what happens – and then let’s regroup again at FC25 to see how well the brand has really settled in.

All this and it’s still saving $150m a year for that FIFA licence in the process…



Honestly, if I’m not playing Spider-Man 2 then I’m probably a) talking about Spider-Man 2, b) posting Spider-Man 2 content on Threads OR c) sneaking a quick level on Mario Wonder (see, Mario is getting a look in – honest).

But just LOOK at this RIDICULOUS game.

For the uber-nerds among you, I’m playing on Fidelity mode but on a 120hz TV and thanks to the geniuses at Insomniac, that means its churning out 40fps (feel free to go deep on that via Digital Foundry).

Additionally, Super Mario Wonder is a JOY. If you’ve picked it up, then you may or may not already know about THE COG, aka the CHECKMARK. Don’t know what I mean? Well, this video should educate you (and ruin your life a bit – sorry).

Alan Wake II also came out today. Pals are [already] playing through that and are reporting good things. I will get to it… at some point.

I’ve also been playing [REDACTED] ahead of it being announed next year. And I’m quite enjoying it!

What are you playing?


You think this might be a joke. But it isn’t.

Thai Food Near Me restaurant seen from the street. A person is walking by, and there are Halloween decorations hanging above the sign.

Thai Food Near Me is a small but powerful symbol of Google’s far-reaching impact on businesses over the past two decades and the lengths their owners will go to try to optimize their operations for the company’s platforms. The name is both notable and obvious — if you’ve spent any amount of time searching for things online, you will understand the reference immediately. The turn is that 25 years after Google Search first arrived, the name says the quiet part out loud.




…but I don’t know where I’d put it [sob]





A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to a friend about seeking some help through therapy.

As an aside, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this before but I have and (if you have the healthcare in place) the process is: get a referral (or pretend you have one – they never check), then see a consultant psychologist for an assessment, then you go and get your therapy – usually from a therapist your psychologist recommends. At least, that’s how it has worked for me the two times I have been in therapy.

We looked up the guy who was my original consultant – as I wanted to recommend him – and it turned out he had taken his own life.

To say that it was a shock would be an understatement. I don’t really know why I’m sharing this. It was incredibly saddening.

I don’t know how else to say this but I’ll say it again – and I’ll keep saying it – if you are feeling like there’s no way out, like you’re in urgent despair, then please please please please please speak to someone. Speak to these people. Speak to me.

You’re not alone. You never are.

I promise.

You’re a beautiful person.

It’s 23:36 on Friday and I’m hitting send.

Until next time,

Whatley out x

Five things on Friday #355

Things of note for the week ending Saturday October 21st, 2023


Well it’s been maybe five days since the last one, let’s go again shall we?

I promise they’re not usually these common. Honest. One might begin to think this was a regular newsletter!

Happy Friday weekend, fam.

I am starting this week’s edition in the early hours of Thursday morning (My youngest has been up coughing all night and after carrying them back to their own bed twice, I gave up around 530ish and came to the desk to start writing) in the hope that I’ll get it done and out and scheduled for Friday but let’s see how we go.

[EDIT: lol, that did not work at all did it?]

How’s your week?

It’s been hectic here. The agency is in peak pre-Christmas craziness. Back to backs, client checks for this [redacted] thing, drumming up excitement for that other [redacted] thing, lining up stuff for other [more redacted] things – updates to come soon, promise – and a linkedin message box going nuts (thanks?!) and yet looking out the window here… the rain hasn’t stopped.

It is definitely October.

The snails are out in force and the plants are getting their annual soak.

But hey, the grass is always greener when you water it, right?

Tonight (Thursday night) I’m getting suited and booted and all dolled up for the annual GamesAid Gala. Now in its sophomore year, last year’s inaugural event raised nearly £30,000(!) for GamesAid charities and I cant’ wait to see what the UK games industry can do this time around… (EDIT: hello!)

Speaking of FUNDRAISING. I forgot to update you last week! Two Five things on Fridays ago (FToF #353) I was out with cap in hand to support Team Diva and help us raise money for War Child UK as we prepared to run TOUGH MUDDER.

Well, last week I forgot to mention that – we did it!

And thanks to you generous lot, we raised over £5000 for War Child (£5127 to be exact). Thank you, thank you thank you – to all of you that donated and supported and shared. It was hugely appreciated.

Thank you.

And in a show of my appreciation I will gift thee FIVE THINGS ON FRIDAY.

Shall we get to them?



Let’s kick off this week with the bones of a giant snake because why not.

The Sea-Serpent

Just off the shore of the Loire estuary outside of Nantes, France, a slithering serpent rises from the water. Completed in 2012, Serpent d’océan is an impressive 425-foot (130 meters) sculpture by French Chinese contemporary artist Huang Yong Ping and is part of the Estuaire permanent public art collection along the estuary’s 37 miles.

A classic dip into My Modern Met this week yielded this absolute belter. I’ve not been to see this but imagine a) you didn’t know it was there and b) just happening upon it one night on a walk along the beach. Terrifying. But also: kind of gorgeous?

Read/see more.


So here’s something I learnt this week:

Masterpiece, 1962 by Roy Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein was a thief.

In a back and forth between some Neil Gaiman comic books fans on Threads earlier this week, I found out that a) Lichtenstein a pilferer of art from multiple comic books and the artists that did the original work and b) Neil Gaiman actually had the Museum of Modern Art update its description of ‘Drowning Girl’ to include the original artist.

I went deep on this one.

I’m never going to look at a Lichtenstein the same way ever again.


Friday October 20th is basically Barbenheimer for gamers.

If you’ve been under a rock for the past few weeks then you’d be forgiven for not knowing that the BOTH INCREDIBLY WELL REVIEWED MEGA HIT GAMES ‘Super Mario Wonder’ and ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’ were coming out today.

If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch, you should get Mario.
If you’ve got a PlayStation 5, you should get get Spidey 2.
(And if you’ve got an Xbox, you’ve already got Forza Motorsport and Starfield).

Basically, y’all spoilt. Which one are you going for? I’m already playing Mario and there’s no way my kids will let get through the weekend without picking up Spider-Man… dammit (as a useful aside, ShopTo or Instant Gaming are where I buy my console store credit from, you can regularly get 15% off the usual price from these websites).

What else can I tell you?


  • The second edition of the Women in Games ‘Building a Fair Playing Field’ report is available now. This is a chunky report – with clear guidance, examples, and recommendations on how to not only improve the games industry for women but also attract more women into games. Leadership Leadership Leadership. Even if you’re not interested in gaming or games, I would recommend this to you anyway as a great example of what good looks like.

  • Related – and to address some of the areas highlighted in the report above – Mastercard has launch the Mastercard Gamer Academy – with a specific focus on inclusion and inclusive gaming. I really like this. I’ve been noodling* for a while now on what OTHER WAYS brands can get involved more meaningfully in gaming and this effort from Mastercard is a great example of doing something DIFFERENT and with MEANING (not everything has to be a Fortnite island, you guys). Well done to all involved. *More on the noodling another time…

  • Sony Pictures Core (previously known as Bravia Core) is now available on PlayStation 5. And it must be said: the quality on this thing is INCREDIBLE. The Verge reports on just how much of a big deal this is – basically due to the high bitrate stream, it’s significantly better than anything Netflix or Amazon can deliver in terms of performance. PlayStation users get some perks on this as well. First off, Plus Premium subscribers get access to a bunch of older films (I tried this out and booted up the original Hellboy movie – again, incredible quality). Second, Gran Turismo is available on Core first and if you buy the $20 edition you get in-game credits to spend too. Not bad. More of this cross-entertainment synchronisation please Sony, thanks.

  • The Analogue 3D was announced. Basically a new console from Analogue that promises to play EVERY N64 GAME IN FULL 4K. No images yet, just a tease on the website but I can see this coming in at around $149-$199 and is definitely one for the ol’ nostalgia nerds. Speaking as someone who still has his fully working N64 in the cupboard, I don’t know if the 4K attraction is enough but I’ll keep an eye on it and update you as and when.

  • ‘What’s the matter babe? You’ve not touched your… £875 Elden Ring Bomber jacket’ – wtf.

  • I really like this new ad from Xbox – ‘Wake up and Dream

  • Finally, The industry layoffs show no sign of slowing. I properly hope this is an inflection point for the industry. New studios, smaller more agile teams, better financial management… something has got to give so this doesn’t happen again. It’s brutal.


Don’t get me wrong, while Spider-Man 2 will be downloading at some point this weekend and Super Mario Wonder literally dropped through the letterbox yesterday (I played it on the train into London last night and if you don’t laugh like a child at the singing piranha plants in level two then you are dead inside), I must confess between this edition and last, I completely crumbled and picked up ASSASSIN’S CREED MIRAGE and sheeeeeeeeee’s a beauty.

It’s going to be hard to put this down for Spider-Mario Weekend but hey this year is NUTS for killer games. How do you choooooose?!


Got Spotify?

Open the app, go to search and type ‘Daylist’ – et voila, one instant personalised playlist based upon what you normally listen to on that day.

I love this.

Thanks to Paul W for the tip x


This is a long edition already so I won’t go mega long on this however what with Meta Quest 3’s pass-through being seriously fantastic, some people (in guess where: America!) have started wearing them… out.

Completely normal behaviour.

I’m still umming and ahhing about an MQ3 but IF I do end up pulling the trigger on one, I will NEVER wear it outside, let alone to the ACTUAL COFFEE SHOP YOU MENTALISTS.

The Verge has [even] more.





A couple of nice OREO things this week. The Xbox Cheat Cookies campaign picked up an astonishing 19 awards at the LIA London International Awards last week.

This is insane?

Image preview

And the OREO Twists UK campaign (one of the very last things I touched on the UK team) has been shortlisted in the 2023 DMAs. Best of luck gang!

And that’s this week’s edition away. As I write this to you now it’s 4am on Saturday morning (and I’m scheduling this for 9am – I’m not a monster).

I’ve been up since about 2am with a rotten headache and snotty nose (I think getting caught outside in the rain after the GamesAid Gala has given me a horrible cold) and I thought before I give up and just play some video games, I’ll see if I can get FToF finished and scheduled – and here we are.

I hope you’ve got a decent weekend lined up and if you haven’t, then maybe do what I’m going to do and put your duvet on the sofa and play a shed ton of Assassin’s Creed Mirage / Super Mario Wonder / Spider-Man (delete where appropriate).

Until next time,

Whatley out x

PS. Do me a favour this week would you? Share this newsletter with someone you think might enjoy it. Or if you’ve enjoyed something specifically from this week’s edition, please share either on social, or in an email to your team. All shares and recommendations are really appreciated – and it helps this Substack grow. Thank you x

Five things on Friday #354

Things of note for the week ending Sunday October 15th, 2023


Hey friends, how have you beeeeeen?

It’s been a couple of months, I know but I often taken the summer off this newsletter and this year, seemingly, was no different. The sunshine making a last hurrah in the early days of October (along with a last minute weekend jaunt to Milan – more on that later) meant the restart date of was pushed back a touch however as a dear old boss of mine was wont to say: we are where we are.

And here we are: Five things on Friday (on Sunday) #354. Arriving late, as noted and as per [the small print] but here all the same.

Welcome, one and all – oldies and newbies together. Welcome.

I hope you like this week’s edition. I’ll be honest, I’ve not opened the ‘#5things’ tag in my inbox yet so I have no idea what we’ll find – a lot has happened since we last spoke and as ever the challenge is always to find the right balance of things you might not know about, things that I really want to write about, and bringing a fresh perspective on both. I try.

Shall we find out what’s in there then?

Let’s (and make sure you stick around for the bonuses).



“Marketers operate in an alternate reality, Marketingland, where they are far removed from the lives of the people they’re meant to understand and reach. The industry can do better, says Richard Huntington, CSO, Saatchi & Saatchi. He calls for The Marketing Reality Movement, a movement that turns the tide on aspirational marketing, one that better represents and serves the real needs of real people.”

This is an excellent read.

And bang on.


(bear with me this might work, it might not)


Look, I know I’ve done this before but it’s been a while since a) we last spoke and b) I posted on the toxic far-right disinformation platform formally known as Twitter (basically, if you’re still there, you’re part of the problem).

Since then I’ve had a couple of months to figure out the vibe and while I’ve flirted with a bunch of platforms, it’s currently bottoming out like this:

  • Posting life/game stuff on Threads, primarily.

  • Work/marketing stuff on Linkedin. Like, daily – who even am I?

  • And then just messing about with an occasional bursts on Bluesky – because why not?

That’s it, that’s the thing.

I felt like I should say it all again because I would argue all of the platforms named above have gone through bursts of user/engagement growth of late and that growth may have included you.

Irrespective of your reasoning for giving the platform up (for those of you that actually have at least (vs say, those of you that have said you have but then posted twenty-eight times since and still embed X posts in your newsletter – lol what)) you might be on the search for the rest of the diaspora – so I thought I’d remind you: this is where I am.

Where are you?

You can add me on any or all of the above. See you there


Six Months Ago NPR Left Twitter. The Effects Have Been Negligible’. You may have seen this headline floating around your feeds over the past week and even if you have the slightest interest or influence over social content, it is genuinely worth your time to read it.

A memo circulated to NPR staff says traffic has dropped by only a single percentage point as a result of leaving Twitter, now officially renamed X, though traffic from the platform was small already and accounted for just under two percent of traffic before the posting stopped. (NPR declined an interview request but shared the memo and other information). While NPR’s main account had 8.7 million followers and the politics account had just under three million, “the platform’s algorithm updates made it increasingly challenging to reach active users; you often saw a near-immediate drop-off in engagement after tweeting and users rarely left the platform,” the memo says.

Speaking as someone who felt for a long time that being good at my job was linked to my presence and preoccupation with the platform, it’s really actually quite amazing to have it removed from my life and still be good at my job. Crazy, huh?

I laid out the platforms I’m present on at the start of this section but truth be told I’d wager that my output on all three of those combined probably still wouldn’t match up to how I spent my time on Twitter and having that time back? It’s kinda great!

So yeah, if I can do it (and walk away from 20k+ followers – happily), if NPR can do it (with negligible impact), then you can too.

‘The numbers confirm what many of us have long suspected — that Twitter wasn’t worth the effort, at least in terms of traffic’



And finally for this section, I’ve never really been a big fan of the vanity metric (aka: metrics or statistics that look spectacular on the surface but don’t necessarily translate to any meaningful business results) so it was strikingly odd to me when I first moved into the games industry to suddenly start seeing briefs that said things like ‘20k Twitter followers in the first three months’ – like it was 2012 all over again.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t deny the power of ‘the golden cohort’; for the first part of any new game’s early community development and buy-in. However, it’s hard to rationalise building your first and most important community on someone else’s platform while also giving away any hope of building a first party database.

Nuts! And yet it still exists.

Anyway, I tried to write about it ON LINKEDIN. I’d be interested to know if you find it useful.

Speaking of gaming…


Well, there’s been a lot.

Everyone else has written about the Microsoft x Activision decision finally going through (at last!) so all I’ll do to add to that is perhaps direct you to the UK Government decision page to read more about it.

Microsoft concession a game-changer that will promote competition

It’s interesting to note that Ubisoft put out an article on the same day, outlining its vision for the next 15 years of Activision’s streaming output. With Ubisoft+ being a new destination for Cloud Gaming (as well as potentially being licensed out to others). We live in interesting times.

There’s lot of opinion out there but it’s always good to read the source.

Go the extra click.

As an aside, I do wonder about the costs of AAA title development and the future of ‘the Netflix for games’ – I wonder about that a lot…

What else can I tell you?

Oh yes, the other big news happening in games right now is the sheer amount of lay-offs happening across the industry. Some are calling it a belated post-covid realignment. Others are calling it a wake up call for bad business management.

Either way it’s pretty bleak out there for many people in games. If you’re looking or if you know someone looking, direct them to Amir Satvat on Linkedin, he’s doing God’s work.


Not really a regular section but enough changes to happen this month to warrant its own little breakout. This week: strange trains and automobiles.

First we’ve got SHELL’s abominable attempt at fossil fuel propaganda with its ‘Ultimate Road Trips’ Fortnite Island.

Shell Ultimate Road Trips Brings You To A New Fortnite Creative Map - IGN Image

Nothing much else to be said aside from congratulations on demonstrating a true absence of any moral backbone to literally everyone that touched this. The agency that built it, the media that sold it, the platforms that advertised it and the influencers that pushed it.

This is so utterly gross it’s beyond reproach.

And it’s gone down about as well as you’d expect.

There’s a launch film here that gives you the overall gist of the thing but honestly, given the amount of effort that must’ve gone into this – what a lost opportunity.

I guess you can’t be done for greenwashing (again) if you’re not hiding your commitment to fossil fuels, right?

Smart-black-guy GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Meanwhile, on the right side of automotive category’s history, here’s BMW with its own foray into Fortnite: Hypnopolis – all about the launch of its brand new and fully electrified BMW iX2.

This BMW effort is interesting in that it makes an attempt to be actually something people might want to play. It isn’t AMAZING but it definitely isn’t terrible – it’s just a shame some comms person decided to spaff the words ‘Web 3’ all over the press release. If you need reminding: Fortnite is absolutely not Web 3.

I wrote more about the whole experience over on Linkedin – your thoughts and opinions are welcome (there or here).

And then we get to this absolutely mental National Rail’s Young Person’s Railcard thing in Roblox.

Part standard media buy, part in-world activation this Roblox piece is both a point of difference on brands that have activated on the platform before and a puzzle.

The point of difference is that National Rail opted out of building its own Roblox world (where literally no one would visit) and instead built a brand extension in a handful of pre-existing uber-popular Roblox worlds such as Apartment Tycoon. This is smart. Better to join someone else’s more popular party than start your own and try and get people to come (this is basic social strategy from the late noughties btw – truly groundbreaking).

The puzzle is just how effective it’ll be. Like, this is the global distribution of Roblox audiences worldwide as of December 2022, by age group (source):

I’m slightly of the opinion that everyone over 25 is a 9yr old lying about their age but still. Of that audience, how many of those are a) in the UK and b) playing Apartment Tycoon? Is the ad-buy region locked somehow? How do you know if the ad-buy was successful? I get that it’s a new way to speak to this audience and I applaud the different approach. I’d just love to know more about it as a while (did you work on it? Hit reply on this email – I’m fascinated).

Related: what do brands get out of video games?


All of this er… analysis (?) aside, what has been genuinely pleasing/fascinating – from a work perspective at least – is the uptick we’ve had at Diva in non-games-focused brands and agencies getting in touch for an expert opinion on how to make these things compelling.

‘Hi, we’re building something but don’t actually know how to make it attractive to players – can you help?’ – it’s as flattering as it is welcome.

So if that’s you as well, by all means get in touch. You can’t just build these things and hope they’ll work – they won’t.



Right now, a lot. I played the hell out of Starfield when it first dropped, completed all/most of the side missions (easily some of the most compelling content in the game) but haven’t actually yet finished the main game.

I will go back to it at some point I’m sure but for now I am playing…

    This is sublime. You have to spare a thought for the talented team at Turn 10. Between Starfield coming out and the Activision purchase finally going through (plus, y’know – every other massive game coming out this month), Motorsport hasn’t had the oxygen it deserves. And that’s a shame because it’s a cast-iron banger.

    From the devs behind Limbo and Inside – Cocoon tells you nothing and lets you figure it all out with a single action button. It’s gorgeous too.

    No, that’s not a typo. I went to play the latest AC, MIRAGE, the other day but then got into a deep conversation with some pals about all the Assassin’s Creeds and realised I hadn’t ever played ROGUE – which is remiss of me given how much I proclaim to be such a fan of the series. So far it’s great – and I’ve missed the excellent ship sections. Nice to be back in that world. I will play MIRAGE at some point just not yet (everything I’ve heard and read says it’s classic AC and that’s what I want thanks).

    Don’t get me wrong, while I’ve been jumping in and out a lot looking at work-based stuff (see above), I recently took the brakes off my son playing this and we’ve been playing together – and I’m kind of loving it. The years of Destiny 2 PvP paying off with many a Victory Royale – gold in solo build ranked mode? I thank you).

    Played this for the first time last night with my mate Dave. Him on Meta Quest 3 and me on my PS VR2. Full cross-play and it was brilliant. We’ll definitely be playing more. Can’t wait.

For what it’s worth, with the exception of Walkabout Golf, all of the above is available on Game Pass. I should also get back to Destiny 2 at some point. I still raid from time to time but I’ve fallen off the PvE main storyline completely.


And that’s even before we get to Alan Wake 2, Super Mario Wonder, Spider-Man 2… etc etc etc. Eesh.

What are you playing?


The hidden eight continent is no longer lost.


I did not know this was a thing.

Turns out it is.


We’re quite deep on this issue on FTOF so I’ll TRY and keep this brief?

First thing first: Meta Quest 3 got officially properly announced and launched. I haven’t got one (yet) but it’s the first headset from Meta that has made me actually take notice properly. A few gamer pals have gone all in and are loving it (see Walkabout Golf VR link above).

Is it the metaverse? No! But then if you watched the keynote, everything from meta quest 3 through to snoop dog being an AI-driven dungeon master in your Messenger app is part of the metaverse, according to Zucko. So… y’know, if it used to be called ‘digital’ it’s now called ‘the metaverse’ – sorry, Zuck makes the rules (this was predicted at least 18mths ago btw — utterly mental).

Second thing: On a related note, the Lex Fridman/Zuckerberg interview is definitely something you’ve already seen.

Buuuut this shorter segment (and this link will jump to the bit you need) basically specifically says ‘this is not the metaverse’ – because this is a (don’t get me wrong a REALLY FANTASTIC) demonstration of new technology called ‘Kodak Avatars’ which involves full facial scanning and encoding before you put the Meta Quest Pro anywhere near your head.

Again, this was yelled as ‘The first interview in the metaverse’ – but it’s not in the metaverse, it is instead a striking example of what can be achieved when technology combines together to create a photo-realistic (kodak avatars – geddit) video call.

But like I said, according to Mark Zuckerberg – everything is the metaverse. AI chatbots. Kodak avatars (exclusive to Meta Quest Pro?). Walkabout VR. All of it.


The Drum did an amaaaaazing ‘Where are they now?’ look back at the much heralded ‘Chief Metaverse Officer’ leads of yesteryear – literally, 2022.

You’ll be STUNNED at the findings (you won’t be).

My main takeout from this article? If the so-called ‘Godmother of the Metaverse’ no longer has the word literally anywhere near their Linkedin, I’m guessing the hype is over.

BTW, it was free to read when I found it but that’s no longer the case – I think there’s a non-paywalled version available here.

And here’s an NFT section:

Longtime readers will know of my absolute lol-a-tron disdain for all things NFT. I think in May 2021 someone asked me what NFT stood for and I said:

No way am I ever letting any of my
Effing clients
Take part in this criminal waste of time/energy’

Turns out I was right?

Back to the Metaverse for one final bonus section:

This ‘immersive experiences’ insights piece from GEEIQ is a good read and stat fodder too but unfortunately the accompanying commentary makes a classic mistake. Can you spot it?

‘Brands are now approaching platforms like Roblox, Fortnite or Decentraland as new, 3D communications verticals – a natural evolution of social media, which is itself a natural evolution of print, TV and radio.’

Did you spot it?

I’ll show you: Roblox has a DAU of 66.1m users. Fortnite around 30m. Decentraland (if you believe their numbers at least) has around 8,000 DAUs. That’s not a typo. And yes, that really is an idiot putting Decentraland in the same bracket as Roblox and Fortnite. Anyone that does this should not be allowed near a laptop let alone your marketing budget.

LASTLY: I spent a week alone in the metaverse is genuinely a great watch. Enjoy.





It’s nice to get this thing out and back inboxes once more. I hope it’s not too much of an intrusion -unlike WGSN who put this monstrosity in mine earlier this week – and I hope wherever you are reading this you are restful, breathing – and your jaw is unclenched… (go on, stretch it out).

Me and the Mrs managed to get away to see some friends in Milan last weekend (by all means yell if you want any reccos). It was exactly the break we needed AND I got to try out my 140-day streak Italiano I’ve been learning on Duolingo.

The weekend before that I spent three days in Birmingham catching up with my gamer pals some of whom I only ever see once a year (but chat to on mic at least once a week, if not on messenger daily).

And then last week I made sure to make time for my old OREO London crew too.

The point is: make time for your friends.
Fill their hearts and let them fill yours.

And skip everything else.

Until next time,

Whatley out x

Five things on Friday #353

Things of note for the week ending Friday August 11th, 2023


What is UP Five things on Friday-ers?

Sorry. No.

That’s horrendous.

Let’s try again.

Hello friends, how have you been? 🙂

I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you but contrary to recent weather reports, yes indeed it is August (edit: this is no longer funny- the Sun literally came out TODAY).

We find ourselves in that time of year when FTOF gets a thousand bounce-backs from the US saying ‘I’m on leave for three days, I’ll reply to by the end of the day’ and from Europe ‘The office is closed for eight weeks, perhaps we’ll speak in September’.


For me, well, we took a holiday in May for us (Italy – was lovely) and then travel wise I’m catching the train to Germany in a couple of weeks for Gamescom – and after that? I think a few BBQs in the garden (see above) with friends and family.

Yes. A summer well spent.

It’s been a while since we last spoke and to quite honest I thought I might take a bit more time off from the newsletter this summer but it’s 21:13 on a Wednesday evening starting this draft to you and, well, as I often say – if the words are there, let them flow.

So let’s get into it; I’m going to open up the inbox of THINGS and see what falls out.

Two small pieces of admin before we proceed:

Admin 1:

Saturday August 12th (this weekend) is TOUGH MUDDER day. Me and 14 other Divas (pictured) are taking on 15k of 30 obstacles and so far we’ve raised over £3500 for War Child.

Thank you so much to all of you who have already donated. If you haven’t and still would like to, you can sponsor me £10, $10, €10 directly right here or you can sponsor (or choose someone from) the entire team via our group page here.

All donations are welcome and if you’re reading this on a Saturday around 1pm UK time, think about how much pain I’ll be in and SPONSOR – thanks x

Admin 2:

Tuesday August 22nd – Friday August 25th me and four other Divas will be attending GAMESCOM in Cologne/Köln, Germany (here’s what we’re doing differently this year). We have a packed schedule but strangely, no one seems to be biting on the breakfast meetings. I can’t think why.

If you’re attending and you fancy a coffee and a croissant on or near to the Ukie stand, do get in touch (you can hit reply to this email or send me a note to james dot whatley at diva dot agency) and we’ll get something sorted 🙂

Right then, that’s that sorted.

Shall we move onto the THINGS?



Let’s talk about Pringles.

Specifically, let’s talk about Grey’s award-winning Pringles NPC campaign.

‘Win a job as an NPC in Train Sim World 3’. Great stuff.

Here’s the case film. Please watch it.

EDIT: a few days after this post went live, GREY seemingly pulled every record of the ad from the internet (the YouTube link is now private and the Vimeo page, the same). I wonder if the two things are related? PS. You can still see the ad here.

A few weeks ago, after the madness of Cannes subsided, my lot at Diva – along with many others I’m sure – gathered in our cinema room over some pizza and beer to have a collective look at this year’s winners. The best of the best. The cream of the crop.

Our ambition? To watch, examine, and discuss those winning cases and see what we could learn from the ones that managed to bring home some coloured metal (here’s the full list of cases we got through that night).

The evening was great. Lots of chatter about purpose and percentages (one is a trend the other is obfuscation). But then we got to Pringles.

About 45s in to the film, the voiceover tells you ‘there was a recruitment campaign in games’ –

– and it shows you, along with some actual ads that did appear in Train Sim World 3, the above in-game billboard ad in a racing game.

There you are, racing along a dusty highway, with a HUGE Pringles QR code for people to pause and scan so they can apply for the job.

But this is completely fake.

The first clue was the fact that no one in the room recognised the racing game in question. And the thing is, at Diva, we pride ourselves on being ‘gaming native’ – which means we are in games and we are of games.

Everyone in the office has played, seen, or heard of an unbelievable breadth and depth of releases and we thought one of us would recognise it. Especially as it seemed like a AAA racer that offered this level of brand integration.

So when we dug deeper (and fair play to our motion lead, Ben – hi Ben! – for spotting this), the same ‘game’ turned up in a Panasonic ad.

Same car. Same road. Same game? Well, as it turns out – yes. It is the same game. You know how I know? Because this week I learned you can actually buy fake video game footage on Shutterstock.

For real!

As a reminder, here’s the image from Grey’s case film:

Aaaaaand here’s the video clip on Shutterstock.

Fake video game mate? Overlaid with your client brand assets? For a case film to hoodwink judges you say? Easy. To you mate, £59. Lovely jubbly.

Let’s get one thing super clear:


Some of you might be sitting back and thinking ‘Oh whoop-di-do, ad agency fakes case film – tell me another one’ – well, I’m not that much of a cynic I’m afraid (quiet at the back).

I’ve judged awards and I’ve chaired judging for awards. This year I’ve judged the 2023 WPI Impact awards, and last month I finished up my judging for the Lovies as well.

My point is: Judges really take this stuff bloody seriously.

We all work hard enough as it is and putting in the effort to ensure the best work gets awarded on merit is fundamental to improving the overall output of the industry.

Faking stuff like this is proper bottom tier. It makes a mockery of the people that worked on it, it makes a mockery of the (excellent!) campaign, and it makes a mockery of the judges that awarded this work on the basis of this case study film.

Grey might have a perfectly good reason for doing this. But what I don’t understand is this: the case study is good enough. The activation itself wasn’t just good enough, it was actually super fun – and got a ton of coverage.

Why put a fake asset into a case film and risk getting disqualified for falsifying an award entry?

I just don’t get it.

Disclosure: I used to work on Pringles, years ago – and they are super hot on their gaming knowledge and genuinely have an interest in the category. I doubt very much this got signed off client-side. Eesh.


One of my favourite writers, Justin Myers – aka The Guyliner – writes a Substack called .

A week or so ago, this beauty dropped into my inbox:

“It’s the curse of the bored and the unfulfilled to imagine that their lost loves hold the key to happiness. Exes perhaps hold an allure they lacked entirely when the relationship was current. It’s a similar feeling when you visit again a city you once loved and called home. Like exes, we sometimes expect the places we’ve loved to remain frozen in time during our absence. But they have moved on without you, the timbre of their laughter has changed, they glow from the inside. Being a tourist in a city you could once navigate blindfolded is somehow worse than being lost somewhere completely new.”

It’s a gorgeous read. Do find the time.

And for what it’s worth, it reminded me of my home town, Canvey Island.

So different now to how it was then.

I remember going home one Christmas and seeing Nigel Farage’s face on the side of a bus – I knew then there was no going back. I never felt like I truly belonged there if I’m completely honest.

But I did grow up there – and that much, no matter how ugly or changed it might be since – I’ll always be nostalgic for.


Sup Gamers! (this actually works here). We’ve already had quite a gamer-y opener this week so I’ll try and keep this brief? Maybe?

This week in game news.

1. Roblox’s numbers hit I guess it is an unstoppable machine now?

The numbers [PDF] in question:

  • Revenue: Up 15% to $681 million

  • Bookings: Up 22% to $781 million

  • Net losses: $285 million, compared to $179 million in the same quarter last year

And if you think that’s nuts, check out this quote in the shareholder letter:

“Given the geographic and age diversity of our user base, along with investments in our product, we are confident that we are building a platform that could, over time, grow to support one billion DAUs,”

One billion DAUs – 50% of Facebook – on Roblox. There’s a power shift coming y’all (it’s already here) and with these kinds of numbers? Legislation will soon follow.

I guarantee it.

2. Roblox x Meta Quest

While we’re on Roblox, I mentioned a couple of editions ago that Roblox was coming to Meta Quest headsets in beta. Well, it arrived – and downloads shot over a million pretty quickly. Whether those downloads convert to regular users is another thing (my money is yes but we’ll see).

3. Ralph Lauren did a thing in Fortnite.

I liked this because it takes a different approach. As in, instead of just building another branded world to explore, RL actually made a game – a racing game at that – that people can play.

Of course you can buy the boots on show (limited IRL, unlimited in the Item Shop – with about a $235 difference between them).

What this does for the business I have no idea. But hey, Vogue Business got to put the vomit-inducing portmanteau ‘phygital’ in a headline, so y’know, there’s that.

Like Nike/Airphoria before it, I’ve taken a bunch of screenshots and dumped them in a free to use folder, feel free to cut and paste into your decks – credit ‘@whatleydude’ x

Quick links / news bites:

What is James playing this week?

I finally got around to booting up JEDI: SURVIVOR and I am really really loving it. Look at it!

Action packed, great in-canon story and most brilliantly of all – it doesn’t do that thing that most sequel games do which is ‘welcome to the sequel, we’re taking away all your weapons so you start over’ – which is a huge breath of fresh air. If you enjoyed Jedi: Fallen Order you will enjoy Jedi: Survivor. Give it a shot.

While I’m at it, may I also recommend to you the utterly perfect train game, TREN (gym bunnies will find this funny, I have discovered).

It’s SO gorgeous and SO PERFECT I really can’t recommend it enough.

Tren is available in DREAMS, and DREAMS is available for free on PlayStation Plus this month.

You can read an interview with the game’s creative director right here.

What are you playing?

4. THING 4


via Gary Whitta, on Threads.


I love this question.

So I found this article a few weeks ago while researching a Strategy is Sacrifice talk I was giving for a client.

And I just keep coming back to it.

As Roger Martin so eloquently states:

“We have all seen countless strategic plans asserting that the organization’s strategy is to be ‘customer-centric’ or to be ‘operationally effective’ or to ‘invest in its talent.’ But these don’t meet my test for strategic choices — even though they may actually be the most frequently proffered choices in the world of strategic plans. My test for whether a stated choice is actually a strategic choice is whether or not the opposite of the choice is stupid on its face.

We’ve been doing a fair bit of brand work of late at Diva towers (more on this another time) and really digging into the specifics of what strategic choices are and what actual real words mean when you get into them is fundamental to getting things right.

‘We want to be authentic.’ – oh, so the opposite would be to inauthentic right? Roger would call that ‘stupid on its face’ – it’s not a choice if there’s only one choice.

Distinctive choices matter.

Read it. Learn from it. Apply it.





Basically a place I can dump all the interesting/better links and articles I’ve read about the whole Twitter/X debacle. You can skip this section if you want, I don’t mind. It won’t be back.

Reminder: I am no longer on Twitter. It is now quite literally no longer what I signed up for. The news about it burning hard to the ground is hard to avoid (seriously, if you’re a journalist reading this – why are you falling for it every time?), so here’s everything related to that.

As stated – this section will not return. Avoid it while it lasts x


Last weekend we saw Barbie (Cried. Twice.) and TMNT: Mutant Mayhem (standing on the shoulders of Spider-Verse). Not quite Barbenheimer but still, all family members were happy. Both are excellent and well worth seeing.

On the TV we’re working our way through S3 of both The Witcher and Succession (behind on both), then ideally Foundation S2 and The Bear.

What are you enjoying at the moment?

As I sign this week’s edition off to you, it’s 20:55 on Thursday night. I’m downstairs in the living room. The mrs is at dinner with friends, the kids are in bed sound asleep and the lithest urban fox I ever did see just sauntered past the window.

I’m off to Bristol in the morning. Working from the Diva offices for the day before Tough Mudder (sponsor me, please). So I’m going to schedule this for mid morning UK time tomorrow – 10ish, shall we say?

Yeah, sounds about right.

Wish us luck for Saturday.

Until next time,

Whatley out x

Five things on Friday #352

Things of note for the week ending Friday July 21st, 2023


It’s Thursday as I start this newsletter. 21:45. Kids break up from school tomorrow and I’ve got a few days off to hang – and we have no plans.

There is no way this newsletter is going out tonight.

Reviewing the links this evening I mean, they’re good (they’re ALWAYS good, right?) but there’s a particular lengthy noodle I’m still tugging on that I don’t think is ready yet. I might change my mind. We’ll see.

Sorry. Rambling.

Actually, no (it’s now Friday. I’ve slept and) I’ve changed my mind. Let’s do this now.

Here’s the thing:

I keep coming back to the same question:

‘What do we want from social media?’

I’ve asked it a few times here and I’ve asked it across multiple platforms since. I’m still sorting through – and looking for more – answers.

You can reply on:

If you read FTOF via email then hit reply and tell me your answer. If you read this in the Substack app, then leave a comment.

The point is: I’m still looking for answers. Gia Milinovich comes close to one of the best answers I’ve read in a while (see Thing 5) but I’m about 500 or so words into another noodle that I might finish this weekend – with your input please – that I’ll post or publish here when it’s done.

Your input is wanted. Your input is welcome.

What else can I tell you?

Yes. That’s right – you can still find me on Threads. It’s my main platform of choice – Linkedin is for work stuff, Bluesky is intermittent for now and so I’m going all in on being a Thread-head.

Twitter is [still] done for me. The owner is an edge-lord. He uses money from your advertising to pay accused sex traffickers to continue using the site. So I’m out.

And when it comes to the game of which billionaire I like the least, Threads is where I’d prefer to be.

Shall we check back in three months?

I’ll see you when you get there.

PS. Threads Pro Tip of the week?

If you’re looking for people to follow, head to the search function and scroll aaaaaall the way down. The recommendations get better the further you go. Try it!

Right, where were we? Ah yes, THE THINGS!


Look at these!

Poster showcasing a miniature model jouster on the left looking like it will pierce the skin of an orange jelly baby stood on the right side of the poster. Logo for Maynards Bassetts with endline saying set the juice loose in top right corner. 
The concept is to leave the viewer to imagine that when the jouster pierces the skin of the sweet it would set the juice loose much like the explosion of flavour that happens in your mouth when eating Jelly Babies.
Poster showcasing a miniature model archer on the left looking like it will pierce the skin of a red port winegum on the right side of the poster. Logo for Maynards Bassetts with endline saying set the juice loose in top right corner. 
The concept is to leave the viewer to imagine that when the arrow pierces the skin of the sweet it would set the juice loose much like the explosion of flavour that happens in your mouth when eating Winegums.

The simplicity!

The anticipation!

The implied ‘these are for kids but we’re using old toys because they’re for big kids too – probably/mainly’ use of the little figurines!

Poster showcasing a miniature model diver with a harpoon standing on top of a green winegum in the centre of the poster. Logo for Maynards Bassetts with endline saying set the juice loose in top right corner. 
The concept is to leave the viewer to imagine that when the harpoon pierces the skin of the sweet it would set the juice loose much like the explosion of flavour that happens in your mouth when eating Winegums.

I think they’re gorgeous.

Well done Maynard’s and VCCP.

Bonus points for breathing life into an old tagline too.


I mean I can’t believe I’m saying this but just don’t do this.

Are we really doing this?

Looks like we are!

Come with me on a journey of imagination.

Imagine you sit in a company that helps brands choose their advertising agency.

Imagine you have an ability to speak to brands and help them understand what it means for these advertising agencies to pitch in the ways that they do.

Imagine that because of this position you hold, your main selling point is that there should no concerns from any agencies of being mistreated or dealt with unfairly.

You know adland likes to pull out all the stops for the big pitches. But you’ve also heard the stories about burnout. You’ve read about the recent high turnover of junior staff. And you’ve probably seen some stuff about ‘the cost of living crisis’ too.

Agency wellbeing should be important to you.

Now imagine you’re being asked for a comment about the toll pitching can take on an ad agency (and let’s be clear: when we say ‘an ad agency’ – we aren’t talking about the business, we’re talking about actual people. Real people with real lives).

Imagine this is your moment to talk about how brands can help agencies. With healthy timelines, reasonable asks, and even pitch fees.

What do you think you might say?

Well, when Campaign Magazine asked the question, the AAR Group thought it might be a good idea to say this:

“Pitch fees were never intended to cover an agency’s cost of pitching – the time, materials and resource costs,” Phillips says. “What pitch fees are, and how we describe them at the AAR, is ‘beer and pizza money’. 

“It’s a thank you to the agency team for having to miss their children’s school sports day, a thank you for coming back from holiday a day early to attend the final pitch presentation, it’s a thank you for staying late and working weekends.”


Before we get into it, let’s talk about some realities.

I have worked late hours and weekends on pitches. If you’re reading this and you work in advertising then you almost certainly have done the same too.

Doing extra hours or days from the office (I even took my kids with me once – I have a superb photo couplet of the Ogilvy great and good gathered in a boardroom at Sea Containers discussing some finer pitch details and behind us is my son, dressed like a pirate, who I couldn’t get childcare for when I needed it – we made a day of it), working from home, or even in hotel rooms overseas (running a London pitch while you’re in Sydney has its benefits) – you name it.

If the time was needed, we were there.

The working late bit is part of the job. Good agencies offer time off in lieu (aka TOIL) for that time spent. Others might just take the team out for a massive post-pitch lunch/dinner/piss-up to celebrate a job well done (win or lose). The best ones do both.

The nature of the job – or at least the jobs I’ve had – mean that the best work is done when the whole team can be brought together and left alone from other work to get on with the job in hand. On rare occasions, that happens during normal working hours.

The point is:

Is it right? Probably not.
Can it be done better? Absolutely.
Are agencies trying to fix it? In most cases, I would like to think so.

I have never had to cancel holiday a day early (although McCann once did that to a mate – ‘thanks pricks!’) and I have never missed sports day for a pitch. The agencies I’ve worked at haven’t asked that of me – and wouldn’t expect it either.

And even if I did, to think for one second that I personally would see any of that ‘pitch fee’ as a way of a thank you is so obscenely detached from any version of the truth of what working in advertising looks like, I am stunned the AAR haven’t rushed out a statement to correct the record.

It’s a thank you to the agency team for having to miss their children’s school sports day.

A THANK YOU! Horrendous.

Honestly it makes me want to throw up.

If you’re recommending agencies that do this, you’re doing it wrong.
If you’re normalising this for brands, you’re doing it wrong.
If you think it’s an OK thing to put in the ad industry’s trade magazine then my goodness, you are doing it wrong.

You only need to look at the replies and quote tweets of the first tweet to clock this statement to see the whiplash from the industry.

Out of touch.

A good time as any to re-read Linds Redding’s ‘A short lesson in perspective’.

My only question now is this: why would an agency trust the AAR now?

Update: it turns out the AAR did respond (but only to one of the more popular Linkedin posts about this). You can make of that (and the subsequent replies) what you will. Funny how it’s only been liked by people from the AAR.


This week’s section starting with the author’s realisation that Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition (Mega Drive / Genesis edition) is now available on on Switch. Yes!

What is up, gamers.

Got a fair bit to cover off this week.

First up!

August 22nd through August 25th, a small number of us from Diva (myself included) will be in Köln, Germany for Europe’s largest games event, Gamescom.

Are you going? Want to grab coffee and a chat? Let me knoooooooow.


There’s a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie coming out…

(side: anyone remember the TMNT being called the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK? They thought if UK kids heard of turtles being ninjas, they might actually start high-kicking each other and throwing ninja stars at school – absolutely mental)

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem.

And while the film looks amazing (watch the trailer!) the Roblox ‘immersive trailer’ experience is… er… a novel way of watching a trailer I guess?

I mean, there’s some behind the scenes stuff and actor interviews in there and it says there’s more to come too (‘battle tycoon’ mode launches next month) but currently this doesn’t make much that much sense to me.

Don’t get me wrong, building it in Roblox means you automatically get more daily uniques than say Decentraland or Sandbox get in a month (combined).

But still. This feels lazy. I like it but I don’t love it – and I hope the game bit (launching August 2nd) is good. Or else it’s a wasted opp.

Check out the TMNT ‘immersive trailer experience’ on Roblox.

Game News Bites

What am I playing?

Well, it’s been quite a mental week at work. A Bristol trip by way of Leamington Spa, an RFI delivery and a day off thrown in for good measure (that’s today – hi), the only time I’ve had to game has been on FFXVI.

Having not played an FF since the GameCube, I don’t have much of an idea of what to expect so when I told a pal about a particularly epic battle (escalation after escalation after escalation) they were like ‘Yeah, that’s FF’ – the story is ace and if you’re playing it, I’ve just got to the bit that says ‘Press L3 and R3 to accept the truth’


What are you playing?


The Meta Quest Pro.

Announced in …checks notes… October 2022 and seen on TV screens as recently as April this year –

– seems like it might not be long for this world.

I wrote about the launch of this thing back in FTOF #339. At the time I said something like:

Let’s take a moment and pour one out for the agency reps at FB/Meta who have undoubtedly already been tasked with trying to sell this thing to literally any mug brand that will listen.

It’s not their fault, they have bills to pay, and virtual mouths to feed. Maybe ask them to blink twice if they need help? Which they’ll be able to do with the shiny new headset!

Keep an eye on the trades now as well. Who will stare back and do nothing and who will be first to wade into the dead-eyed swamp of the brands-in-the-metaverse bandwagon?

And hey. Here we are and ZDNet is reporting Meta’s flagship headset (along with plans for any second generation version) is dead.

Now this is not to say Meta is out of the headset market. Not by any stretch. The Quest 2 is also reportedly being discontinued. It just means that all bets are on the Quest 3 (and everything that comes thereafter).

Just do one thing really well, right?

We’ll see.


What is fame?

I’m paraphrasing a bit but I’m sure I heard someone – a celeb I think – say something like this recently:

‘Fame is a tasty poison. You can take a swig and swirl it around in your mouth but be sure to spit it out and move on. If you swallow it, it’s game over.’

One of my favourite writers and thinkers, and author of the substack, has been exploring the topic (for a good while but has revisited it again) and arrives at a grotesque if not worrying conclusion (see also: why I gave up Instagram – I didn’t like the reflection it made me seek).

From Hollywood to Twitter and every follower and fan-based platform inbetween, Gia’s writing is on point.

Reflective of our online culture of sycophancy or incendiary rage, ‘FAME’ is provocative af and my recommendation of the week.

Be sure to spit on your way out.





The OREO x Xbox campaign keeps winning. It picked up a bunch of awards at the New York Festivals awards this week – including its first Grand Prix of the year.


I’m going to sign off and hit send on this thing. It’s 13:50 on Friday July 21st 2023 and Five things on Friday is going out on time.

I should take Fridays off more often.

Have a great weekend gang,

Whatley out x