TIME Aviation

This Is Who Decides Whether Your Flight Takes Off This Week

Chicago's O'Hare Airport Snarled In Ground Stops After Fire At FAA Building
Passengers wait in line to reschedule flights at O'Hare International Airport on September 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Meet the Cancellator

With the rush of Thanksgiving travel and potentially bad weather, there’s a few people who will have the tougher-than-usual job this week of figuring out which unlucky flights must be cancelled this holiday season.

Meet the men and women operating the Cancellator, a computer system that decides whether or not you’ll be scrambling to make it home for Turkey Day. The Cancellator and systems like it use an algorithm with some human input to decide which flights to delay or cancel in order to preserve as much of an airline’s original schedule as possible. The program’s ultimate goal is to nix flights well ahead of time, that way airlines can notify passengers of the changes before they head out for the airport — giving customers time to make alternate plans.

Want to know more about the software and employees deciding to cancel your flight? Read TIME’s March 3, 2014 cover story on airline cancellations here.

TIME food and drink

Almost Half of Millennials Have Never Drank a Budweiser

Budweiser
Fred de Noyelle—Getty Images/Photononstop RM

The company is going on a full-court PR press to get more young drinkers

The King of Beers isn’t America’s reigning beer anymore — at least among millennials.

The flagship Budweiser beer remains popular mostly among older folks, and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is refocusing its marketing specifically on the millennial age bracket, the Wall Street Journal reports.

While Budweiser has been known for its traditional Clydesdales commercials and other touching animal-focused ads, this season the company will roll out commercials featuring people in their 20’s speaking directly to a camera about who they’d like to “grab a Bud with” this holiday season. The new millennial-focused marketing will also include parties in college towns featuring Jay-Z, who partnered with Budweiser for the annual Budweiser Made in America music festival in 2012.

Budweiser faces tough competition among craft beers when attracting the 21-t0-27 age demographic, 44% of whom haven’t tasted the beer, according to AB InBev. Budweiser’s own sister beers, like Bud Light and Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, have also contributed to the flagship beer’s production to drop by over half over the last 10 years.

[Wall Street Journal]

 

 

TIME Advertising

Watch the Sexist PlayStation Ad Sony Quickly Pulled From YouTube

Perpetuating all your least favorite stereotypes

Sony quickly and quietly pulled a PlayStation ad from its European YouTube account this weekend that bears a greater resemblance to soft-core porn than it does to a commercial for a piece of hardware.

“I know you’ve already done it today, and I bet you really enjoyed yourself, ” a sexy female British doctor coos, shortly prior to climbing on top of her office desk — you know, like serious doctors often do. “How many times did you do it yesterday? Are you afraid you’re doing it too often? In your bedroom under the blankets? Or perhaps you prefer the kitchen or the toilet? Or do you like it in the garden?”

The innuendo-laden ad is for a Remote Play feature rather than, well, you get the idea. While the world is used to blatantly sexist ads at this point, the Sony one is particularly depressing. And that is because, as the Verge puts it, “Sony might be trying to do a halfway good thing here.”

The ad ends with the revelation that the sexy doctor parody is actually a gamer, too. “You can even join me,” she says with a wink before pulling out her own gaming device.

But is the way to show that women also like to play video games to treat them as a sexualized fantasy for teenage boys?

While the ad is no longer on Sony’s official account, other YouTubers, however, have posted it.

Although Sony didn’t immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment, the ad does fall in line with past campaigns reportedly from 2012:

This isn’t the first video game ad that uses sexual innuendos. Business Insider references an XBox 360 ad that uses a similar “Everyone is doing it” mantra:

Somehow this new one feels different.

TIME marketing

Bud’s Iconic Clydesdales Put Out to Pasture as Jay-Z Steps In

A Budweiser clydesdale horse sticks his head out of the trailer before the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston.
A Budweiser clydesdale horse sticks his head out of the trailer before the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston. Bob Levey—Getty Images

Horses will be replaced by a hipper ad campaign as beer company looks to appeal to a younger crowd

Budweiser is ditching Clydesdale horses in favor of Jay-Z.

The self-styled King of Beers is reportedly reworking its marketing campaign in a bid to remain relevant as craft beers capture the attention of drinkers.

The company is looking to stem the falling sales of its title offering — and is turning to younger drinkers for its best chance, banking on a new advertising campaign to bring that strategy to the market, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The new commercials that focus exclusively on the 20-something age bracket this holiday season. A new ad campaign will feature young drinkers answering the question: “If you could grab a bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?”

That will lead the way for the brand’s bigger marketing push, which includes food festivals and a two-day concert in partnership with Jay Z in Philadelphia that was started in 2012.

Budweiser has faced declining demand over the past 25 years. In 1988, the brand sold about 50 million barrels, but last year that dropped to 16 million barrels, the Journal says. Part of that decline is its own brand cannibalism: Bud Light has pulled away customers from Budweiser for decades and became the nation’s No. 1 selling beer in 2001.

Budweiser’s appeal is particularly dismal among young drinkers in the U.S. Nearly 44% of drinkers aged between 21 and 27 have never tried Budweiser, according to the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD 0.52% .

If Budweiser can gain the 20-something appeal, it has access to the biggest number of new drinkers since the baby boom. The number of people turning 21 peaked in 2013 at about 4.6 million.

Clydesdales have featured in many Budweiser ad campaigns and have been associated with the beer company since 1933, when Budweiser introduced them to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition for beer, the AP said.

MONEY deals

Black Friday Is Already Here

A "Black Friday" advertisement for Walmart is seen on an iPad in Annapolis, Maryland November 16, 2014.
A "Black Friday" advertisement for Walmart is seen on an iPad in Annapolis, Maryland November 16, 2014. "Black Friday" is coming early this year to retailers. Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Based on the big discounts already in effect at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Gap, Staples, and plenty of other retailers, it looks like Black Friday sales are well underway.

Many people are upset that dozens of national retailers have decided to launch Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving, thereby ruining the holiday for workers who can’t spend the day with their families—and also ruining the day for families whose shopping-crazed relatives will ditch them for the chance to score cheap tablets, TVs, and fast fashion at the mall. (According to surveys, millennials are particularly likely to go shopping on Thanksgiving rather than continue hanging out at home once dinner is done.)

But based on the proliferation of broad, often substantial discounts that invoke the phrase “Black Friday” days or even a full week before the actual day arrives, it appears as if Black Friday sales are in effect right now. Deal-tracking sites such as TheBlackFriday.com have rounded up long lists of retailers that have already tried to grab shoppers’ attention by launching big holiday sales under names like “Pre-Black Friday Deals,” “Black Friday All Week Long Sale,” and “Cyber Monday Now.”

One week before Black Friday, Amazon kicked off its Black Friday Deals Week, throughout the course of which the world’s largest e-retailer is adding new deals as often as every 10 minutes. Likewise, Walmart launched a “Pre-Black Friday Event” on Friday, November 21, with lots of prices that seem on par with Black Friday’s best bargains: LED TVs for under $150, tablets starting at $40, two-packs of women’s fleece pants for $8, and so on. Similarly, Staples is trying to woo shoppers early with 50% off select merchandise and an array of quirky coupons (a flat $100 off many tablets, laptops, and desk-tops), and Target, Lowes, Sears, and many others are advertising some variation of “Pre-Black Friday” or “Black Friday Now” deals.

Some across-the-board online discounts—the kind normally offered on Cyber Monday—have also surfaced this week, such as 30% off everything at Lands’ End, on top of another 40% off shoes and slippers. On Monday, Gap introduced a sale on denim and cords for $25 and under (normally priced up to $70), on the heels of a 50% off all online purchases (for Gap card members) on Sunday.

The early sales shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the overarching trend of retailers attempting to expand the holiday shopping season and grab consumers’ limited gift-purchasing dollars before their competitors can. Kmart launched its first holiday ad in September, and many studies show that the best deals aren’t on Black Friday necessarily, but can appear weeks before or after Thanksgiving weekend, thanks to retailers’ strategic efforts to boost sales during lulls.

An Adweek story quotes several retail experts of the opinion that “Black Friday” basically occupies all of November nowadays, or at least that Black Friday-type sales appear on the scene earlier and earlier each year:

“We definitely see retailers pushing Black Friday earlier than ever,” said Sara Al-Tukhaim, director of retail insights for Kantar Retail. “This concept of Black Friday is just getting stretched out more” and becoming “more blurry.”

Bear in mind that not all of these early deals are worth getting excited about. The Disney Store rolled out what it’s calling its Black Magical Friday Sale on Friday, November 21, with discounts “up to 40% off,” but most of the deals—16″ dolls for $20 (originally $24.95), play sets from Star Wars, Monsters University, and Toy Story for $10 (originally $12.95)—seem like run-of-the-mill sales, not can’t-pass-up bargains. What’s more, some of the best early Black Friday deals seem all but impossible to buy. For example, Walmart advertised the Skylanders Trap Team Starter Kit for Wii U over the weekend priced at $37 (full price around $75), but it has been out of stock for online orders and isn’t available at most stores either.

To sum up, right now many stores have some genuinely terrific, Black Friday-esque bargains. But many of the advertised deals aren’t all that impressive, and the biggest discounts generally apply only to select merchandise and may not actually be available for purchase. In other words, retailers are already using amazing discounts and other tricks to get shoppers into stores—where the hope is that they’ll buy plenty of lightly-discounted or full-price items while they’re browsing. This is the gist of how and why retailers use Black Friday as a sales-boosting tactic in the first place, and it’s a strategy that is indeed well underway.

TIME Media

Beyoncé’s Latest Album Is Finally on Spotify

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
Singer Beyoncé attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2014 Jason Merritt—Getty Images

Spotify gets a big release following Taylor Swift's exodus

It took nearly a year, but Beyoncé’s self-titled album is finally available on Spotify.

A platinum edition of Beyoncé, with six new remixes and bonus tracks, is now available on the music-streaming service. The album, released as a surprise last December, was originally only available as an iTunes exclusive but was later released on CD as well. Spotify previously only had a couple of big singles from the album available to stream.

Landing Beyoncé could help Spotify improve what’s been a very rough November. Taylor Swift removed her entire catalogue from the service while very vocally questioning whether Spotify’s model compensates artists appropriately for their work. Later, a Sony Music executive expressed doubts about Spotify’s ability to convert free users into paying customers, saying Swift’s exodus had sparked “a lot of conversation.” Spotify believes its free version is critical to eventually convincing users to purchase premium subscriptions and says its royalty payouts will continue to grow as it gains more customers.

For Beyoncé, releasing her album on Spotify could help it land higher on the album charts. Billboard just announced that it would begin including songs played on music-streaming services in its weekly album rankings. That could help Beyoncé unseat 1989, Swift’s blockbuster release that has topped the charts for three straight weeks.

TIME Media

Google Takes Over North America’s Biggest Digital Billboard

Billed as Times Square's largest and most expensive digital billboard, a new megascreen is debuted in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Nov.18, 2014 in New York City.
Billed as Times Square's largest and most expensive digital billboard, a new megascreen is debuted in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Nov.18, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

And it's even higher-res than 4K displays

The lights of Times Square just got a little bit brighter, as Google is taking over a massive new digital billboard that spans an entire city block in the heart of New York.

The new screen is more than 25,000 square feet in size and has a pixel density even greater than high-definition 4K displays. Clear Channel, the company that built the ad space, says it’s the largest digital screen in North America.

Google is taking over the space just in time for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. The search giant will use the screen to present an interactive mobile game this week in which people can “Androidify” themselves, becoming cartoon characters similar to the ones in Google’s new Android marketing campaign. Google hopes to present 25,000 personalized Android characters on the screen each day. In addition to pushing products like Android, Chrome and Nexus, Google will offer some billboard screen-time to nonprofits such as Charity Water and Khan Academy.

The new screen is located on Broadway between 45th Street and 46th Street. The price of the ad wasn’t disclosed.

 

TIME Africa

Africa Fashion Week Showcases the Continent’s Best Talent

The growing trend of Fashion Weeks across the African continent challenges the notion that global fashion starts in the northern hemisphere

The lights dim on the catwalk as a capacity crowd quiets in anticipation. A pounding drum rhythm builds suspense as, backstage, stylists swarm the waiting models, applying last-minute dabs of foundation, glittering lip-gloss and bursts of hair spray. Next to the catwalk, professional photographers jostle for space with fashion bloggers preparing to snap candids with raised iPhones.

The scene could come from any of Europe or America’s frenzied fashion shows, but for two key differences: the models are mostly black and the designers all African. Welcome to Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg, an annual event that offers a sharp rebuttal to the idea that international fashion begins and ends in the northern hemisphere. “When it comes to fashion design, Africa is the next frontier,” says Precious Moloi-Motsepe, a women’s health doctor and wife of South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe who founded African Fashion International, which organizes the event, in 2007.

Now in its sixth year, Fashion Week Africa—which recently picked up Mercedes Benz’s sponsorship in a sign of its growing prominence (the company also sponsors fashion weeks in Australia, Russia and Mexico)—is a showcase for Africa’s top designers. Headlining designer David Tlale of South Africa makes regular appearances at New York’s fashion week, while Mozambican Taibo Bacar and South African Hendrik Vermeulen wowed audiences in Milan and Rome earlier this year.

The message from Johannesburg is clear: Africa is no longer just a source for ethnic inspiration and fashion shoots, but a fount of original talent that may just give the established global brands a fresh dose of creativity, Tlale tells TIME. “The industry needs fresh blood. Armani is tired. Galliano is trying to resuscitate himself. McQueen is gone. Gucci is failing to reinvigorate and Prada needs a new creative team. It’s time for the big fashion investors to start looking to Africa. Not appropriating our themes, but taking on our design talent.”

The first obstacle may be overcoming expectations. When Tlale, arguably Africa’s best-known designer, first showed in Paris in 2007, reviewers needled him about his line’s lack of leopard print. It still happens today. “There is so much more happening in Africa than animal prints,” he groans. “The time for showcasing the big five is over.” He is talking about the big five safari animals, but he could just as easily be referencing Africa’s big five fashion clichés: Mandela shirts, animal skins, vibrant Ghanaian fabrics, Ndebele beadwork and the red plaid and beaded collars of the Maasai.

Take the clothes on the catwalk in Johannesburg on Oct. 29 to Nov. 2: from diaphanous trench coats to daring hotpants, they have nary a whiff of the African stereotype. Tribal motifs made an appearance, but they were translated into muted knitwear that could almost pass as Nordic.

As much as international fashion design could use a jolt of African creativity, Africa, which has become dependent on imported fashion, needs the economic stimulus of domestic production. In South Africa, the clothing manufacturing sector used to be the country’s biggest employer, even more than mining, according to Anita Stanbury, of the South African Fashion Council. But in the early 2000s changes in the law allowed Chinese imports to take over, and the industry all but collapsed. South Africa’s fashion weeks, of which there are six year round, are one way to encourage interest, and investment, in local production. South African fashion retailers only buy 25% of their product locally, says Stanbury. If they bought 40%, the number of clothing manufacturing jobs in South Africa would nearly double, from 80,000 to 150,000. “That is a huge reason why we should support the domestic fashion scene,” says Stanbury. “It gives us the opportunity to pull people out of poverty, and make them consumers in the market.”

The domestic economic benefit is one of the main reasons Moloi-Motsepe started with fashion, but pride plays a part as well. She believes it’s time for African fashion to take its place in the spotlight. “We see ourselves as global fashion players,” says Moloi-Motsepe. Just as she pairs Prada with creations by local designers, she is waiting for the day she spots a Londoner mixing Stella McCartney with Tlale. Global fashion, she says, would be better for the cross-pollination.

TIME Regulation

FCC Spectrum Auction Raises Over $30 Billion in Battle for Airwaves

FCC’s first spectrum auction in six years raised three times more than expected

Companies have bid more than $30 billion to get a slice of the mid-range frequency spectrum auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission last week.

The FCC offered what is called AWS-3 frequencies, which are a mid-range spectrum similar to those controlled by Dish Networks. Auction 97, as it’s called, kicked off Nov. 13. It’s one of the first to offer that type of frequency and one of the biggest sales of new frequencies since 2008.

Pre-sale estimates put the value of the airwaves at $10.1 billion, but interest from companies pushed the bidding well over that value. The final and winners won’t be revealed until the auction ends and the FCC awards certain frequencies.

Certain airwaves are more valuable than others. A New York City block of frequencies sold for a reported $1.19 billion.

The spectrum is a valuable commodity because it allows wireless companies to add more capacity for cellular data and other wireless services. New frequencies, which may only be bought through an FCC auction, have been in short supply until now and companies are battling to get a slice to be able to increase their services and speed.

Dish, America Movil, T-Mobile US and AT&T are all said to be participating in the bidding.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME technology

New Drone Rules May Require Commercial Flyers to Have License

Attendees Visit The Commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Show
An exhibitor adjusts a Sony Corp. digital camera mounted to a drone, developed by Flairics GmbH and Co., as it hangs on display during the Commercial UAV show in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Rules will require pilots to get licensed

The Federal Aviation Administration is set to restrict use of drones to within 400 feet of the ground and forbid flights beyond the eyesight of the operator, according to a new report, rules far less permissive than what companies like Amazon had hoped for.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the highly anticipated ruling, reports that drone operators will be expected to obtain a pilot license, which traditionally require hours of flight training.

The rules will allow drones to be used in filmmaking, construction and farming, among other industries.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

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