• Airbnb Goes Seriously Upscale With Luxury Division
    Airbnb has unveiled a service called Luxe featuring more than 2,000 high-end homes, with prices ranging from $1,000 to nearly $150,000 nightly, for an average around $2,000. “The company sends inspectors to check whether the homes meet 300 criteria, including that they have a unique design, high-quality furniture and chef-grade appliances,” according to Fortune. “Luxe also offers guests a 'trip designer,' an around-the-clock concierge who can help guests plan their trips, from finding their dream vacation home to local activities.”
  • Sprite Partners With BET For 'Thirst For Yours'
    Sprite is launching a multiyear "Thirst for Yours" campaign that will highlight musicians, designers, artists, photographers and others in hip-hop culture and includes a partnership with BET. The Coca-Cola brand developed social media content and worked with influencers Kodie Shane and Seth Giscombe to develop experiential activations around the 2019 BET Awards this past weekend.
  • Walmart Deal With Ellen DeGeneres Shows How U.S. Has Changed
    Walmart has struck a deal with TV show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres. “That the largest U.S. retailer finds value in aligning itself with a 61-year-old lesbian who has a recurring segment on her talk show called “Oh, Straight People,” is, in many ways, a testament to how thoroughly Americans have accepted LGBTQ rights,” according to Bloomberg. DeGeneres' partnership with Walmart includes a clothing and accessories line that is awash in American flags and rainbows and is sold in 2,300 Walmart stores. 
  • Kate Spade, Refinery 29 Discuss Film Initiative
    A partnership between Kate Spade and Refinery 29 aims to give more women the tools and opportunity to develop as video creators. Dubbed “Pilot Season,” the project has cultivated five one-minute videos from female directors, with one to be selected in July by a jury of industry veterans for further development. Kristen Naiman, who leads brand creative at Kate Spade, said the project is part of the brand’s own expanding video efforts. 
  • GE 'Smart Bulb' Gaffe Goes Viral
    A “smart home” product from General Electric Co. may be too sophisticated for its own good. The manufacturing giant became the butt of jokes after a video of one of its smart light-bulbs went viral this week. In it, the company explains the complicated procedure to reset the software in the bulb and disconnect it from a smartphone. “We know technology can be complicated and are aware that our current factory reset process isn’t ideal,” GE said in a statement. “We’re finding simpler methods for our users and appreciate the patience.”
  • Taco Bell Reveals Branded Hotel
    Taco Bell is putting its stamp on a Palm Springs, Calif.-based hotel -- "The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort" -- for three nights in August. “The Bell transforms an existing hotel into its taco-inspired destination,” the company said. Interested parties can start booking through the hotel’s website starting June 27 at 1 p.m. ET. Upwards of 70 rooms will be available and guests will have four different room options to choose from, with prices beginning at $169 a night. The fast-food company promised to unveil “exclusive Taco Bell menu items” at the hotel.
  • Johnson & Johnson Eliminates CMO Role
    Johnson & Johnson has eliminated Alison Lewis’ position as global chief marketing officer. The company is establishing “a new business model that streamlines priorities, allows us to operate more efficiently, and increases our investment in categories that offer high potential for growth and where we can make a positive impact on consumers' lives,” according to a statement. Lewis held the job for more than five years.
  • Best Buy Expands Repair Service To Include iPhones
    Apple and Best Buy are extending a partnership that will allow the retailer’s technicians fix iPhones at any U.S. Best Buy store. “Apple said that it now has 1,800 third-party repair providers in its U.S. network, three times as many as three years ago and enough to put eight out of 10 of its customers in the United States within a 20-minute drive of an authorized repair center,” according to Reuters.
  • Bentley Hires Former Cadillac, BMW Exec
    Florian Spinoly has joined Volkswagen Group luxury brand Bentley as its new director of product and marketing. Spinoly left General Motors in September last year, where he served as the director of marketing, product and public relations for Cadillac Europe, as well as for Chevrolet Performance Cars. Before joining GM, Spinoly was director of marketing and product management for BMW South Africa.
  • Cracker Barrel Turns Away Anti-LGBTQ Minister
    A Tennessee Cracker Barrel has told an anti-LGBTQ pastor he and his church are not welcome to hold services there. Grayson Fritts had planned a church gathering at a Cleveland, Tenn. Cracker Barrel for late June. “Fritts thrust himself and his church into the spotlight with a series of recorded sermons in which he advocated for government authorities — including the Knox County Sheriff's Office, where he works — to execute LGBTQ people,” according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
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