Axios What's Next

Picture of a futuristic looking skyline.

Had a bad breakup recently? Lost a parent? Retailers feel your pain — perhaps. At the very least, they'd like to avoid nettling you, so you continue to spend money with them, as Erica Pandey explains.

  • You may not have this on your calendar, but tomorrow is National Plan for Vacation Day! The U.S. Travel Association reminds us not to let that PTO go to waste.

Today's Smart Brevity count: TKTK words ... TKTK minutes.

1 big thing: Opting out of Valentine's Day

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

More brands are giving their customers the chance to opt out of marketing emails ahead of holidays like Valentine's Day, Erica writes.

Why it matters: Advertisements and promotions around holidays — particularly ones that celebrate relationships — can cause anxiety and depression. And we're bombarded with them: Overall, we've gone from being exposed to around 500 ads a day in the 1970s to around 5,000 a day now.

A growing number of retailers, florists, media companies and more are taking a thoughtful approach to marketing, trying not to inundate their customers with ads that'll hurt them.

  • Etsy lets people opt out of Valentine's Day emails and offers as well as marketing around Mother's Day and Father's Day. The feature was created in 2021, Etsy tells Axios.
  • Parachute, the bedding and home goods company, has the same opt-out feature for Mother's Day and Father's Day, Fortune reports.
  • In 2019, British florist Bloom & Wild gave their customers the ability to opt out of Mother’s Day emails and invited other businesses to follow suit.
  • Since then, more than 150 brands have joined Bloom & Wild’s “Thoughtful Marketing Movement” including The Telegraph, stationery company Paperchase and restaurant chain Wagamama.

The big picture: When brands do this, they appear empathetic, says Susan Dobscha, a marketing professor at Bentley University.

  • "The new buzzword now is sincerity," she says. "Does a business appear sincere?"

What to watch: Look for even more brands to collect insights on which holidays their customers celebrate — just like they keep track of demographic and geographic data — and use those insights to target their marketing.

  • For example, Valentine's Day celebrations have steadily declined over the past decade in the U.S., with only 52% of respondents planning to observe the holiday in 2021, down from 63% in 2009.

Read the full story.

2. Casana nets $30 million to make smart toilet seats

 Illustration of a toilet with a speech bubble saying “The doctor will see you now.”
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

With $30 million in fresh funds, health monitoring startup Casana is getting ready to debut a toilet seat that takes your vitals, writes Erin Brodwin, co-author of our Axios Pro newsletter on health tech deals.

Why it matters: Casana’s clinical commode is part of a broader trend that is seeing health care move out of the doctor’s office and into the home — or bathroom. 

  • “What is a potential game-changer here is not the toilet seat itself but rather the opening of new distribution lanes and intermediaries for home health products,” Mintu Turakhia, director of the Stanford Center for Digital Health, tells Axios.

The details: Casana’s device, called the Heart Seat, uses three sensors (two of which are similar to those in Apple Watches) to get a peek at heart health and spot early problem signs, or to monitor someone with an existing heart condition.

  • While an EKG is used to measure the heart’s electrical activity, photoplethysmography is deployed to detect blood volume changes with lights. A ballistocardiogram records tiny body movements caused by the heart’s mechanical activity.

What’s next: New York-based Casana plans to submit its vitals-collecting latrine to the Food and Drug Administration for approval as a class two medical device in the first half of this year.

Read the full story.

3. Analysts: EV sales slated for 2022 surge

Data: BloombergNEF, Marklines, Jato, JADA, Motie; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Global sales of electric passenger vehicles are projected to surpass 10.5 million this year, about 4 million above 2021 levels, as the tech grows more mainstream, the research firm BloombergNEF said in a new report, Ben Geman writes in Axios Generate.

Driving the news: The 2022 outlook for battery-electric and plug-in hybrids sees a number of forces rowing in the same direction.

There are more models on the market, tougher climate policies, fleet purchases, automakers pushing cars with a plug and other factors.

Why it matters: While noting policy is important, the analysis also states, "the passenger EV market is shifting from one driven by policy to one driven by organic consumer demand."

Read the full story.

4. Tom Brady's NFT startup has raised $170 million

Illustration of Tom Brady in football uniform catching a stack of cash.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Autograph, an NFT collections startup, announced that it's raised $170 million in new venture capital funding co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, writes Lucinda Shen, co-author of our new Axios Pro newsletter on fintech deals.

Why it matters: If the dollar amount isn't enough — after all, it seems as if every NFT-based startup is raising money right now — the company is co-founded by Tom Brady.

  • Yes, that Tom Brady. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback. Former New England Patriots quarterback. Seven-time Super Bowl champion. Also, a crypto enthusiast who last year took a stake in FTX.
  • Autograph's other co-founders are father-and-son duo (and former MySpace owner) Richard Rosenblatt and CEO Dillon Rosenblatt.

Between the lines: Celebrities and the cryptocurrency world have a messy relationship. This month, Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather were sued over allegedly promoting a token and artificially boosting its price.

  • It doesn't help that there's a sense that celebrities are diving into a world that they don't fully understand when it comes to crypto.
  • As the SEC said during the first crypto surge of 2017, "Celebrities who endorse an investment often do not have sufficient expertise to ensure that the investment is appropriate."

Read the full story.

5. It's OK, we can talk about Bruno

Data: Billboard; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

"We Don't Talk About Bruno" is a catchy hit song from the Disney animated movie "Encanto" that's not only climbing the top of the Billboard charts but also getting stuck in myriad people's heads, Jennifer A. Kingson writes. (Listen to it here at your own risk.)

  • Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Bruno" "recently became the first song from a Walt Disney Animation Studios film to hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart," per the Wall Street Journal.

Where it stands: "Bruno" is currently at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 list and has been moving up.

  • The Disney song to beat is “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme),” which, according to Billboard, in early 1993, "became the only song from an animated Disney movie to top the Hot 100."
  • Other heavyweights include "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Circle of Life," the Elton John hits from the 1994 movie "The Lion King."

Fun fact: Of the 10 biggest song hits from Disney animated films on the Billboard charts, eight are from the 1990s: Only "Bruno" and "Let It Go" from "Frozen" (2014) are from the 21st century.

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