5 In 5: Sparrow Song, New Emojis, Movie Theater Flop, Houseparty Gets Out The Vote, CDC Halloween Guidelines

Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Sparrow Song

During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song. Why should you care? Sparrows rely on acoustic communication which can sometimes get disrupted by noise pollution – but with everyone on lockdown, the background noise in urban San Fran was so quiet scientists said it was comparable to rural San Fran in the 1950s. These songbirds responded by literally changing their tune: they sang more softly, the distance their song traveled went more than twice as far, they sang lower notes and their signal-to-noise ratio doubled, which meant people could hear birds 4x louder. [Axios]

2. New Emojis

New emojis are coming in 2021, including a heart on fire, a woman with a beard and over 200 mixed-skin-tone options for couples. Why should you care? In this day and age, we can always look to new emojis as being a sign of the times. This upcoming release will include 200 new emojis and a lot more ways to express the pain of this year. New additions will include: a bandaged heart for heartbreak, gender neutral emojis and a face in the clouds to signify what we’ve all been doing during COVID – daydreaming of better days. [CNN]

3. Movie Theater Flop

Audiences didn’t return to movie theaters after they partially reopened during COVID. Why should you care? “Tenet” was supposed to be the movie that brought audiences back, but it didn’t – instead it showed more trouble for the industry. Theaters remain closed in two of the biggest markets (NYC and Los Angeles), and the ones that did reopen did so only at half capacity or less. Coupled with the fact that people are still wary about spending time in closed spaces like theaters, Hollywood can’t catch a break and continues to postpone the release of big movies – “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Black Widow” being the latest. [Finance Commerce]

4. Houseparty Gets Out The Vote

Houseparty is partnering with Michelle Obama’s nonprofit to get out the vote. Why should you care? Houseparty – an app that has been popularized during the pandemic where friends meet to play games virtually since they can’t meet in person – has partnered with When We All Vote to create a superlative game within the app that prompts players to check their voter registration. With the recent success of Barack Obama partnering with Snapchat to get out the vote (over 400k people registered to vote through the app last week), brands are realizing they need to meet younger voters where they are. [The Verge]

5. CDC Halloween Guidelines

CDC’s Halloween guidelines warn against typical trick-or-treating. Why should you care? In a year that’s already been scary enough, CDC released guidelines on how to proceed with a safety-first spooky season by grouping activities into different categories (low-risk, moderate-risk and high-risk). Though traditional Halloween activities like trick-or-treating, boozy costume parties and in-door haunted houses are discouraged – they came out with some safe alternatives (individually wrapped giftbags at the end of driveways, haunted forests instead of houses, etc). Cue us waiting for Christmas COVID guidelines. [NPR]

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