In the two days since he advertised “unprocessed toilet paper” for sale on Facebook Marketplace next to a photo of logs, David Traichel says the response has been better than expected. No actual buyers, just hundreds of views, laughs, and “you made my day” from other users browsing through the online classifieds.
“So many people are so freaked out about the idea of not having toilet paper,” says Traichel, 39. The aerospace technician and welder from Northford, Connecticut generally uses Facebook Marketplace to sell vintage car and bicycle parts. He decided to offer his oak and cedar woodpile (price, $1) to jog users out of their shopping panic. “Maybe those people would see the ad and think, ‘OK, maybe I’m overreacting.”
Homebound Americans have turned to scavenging on ecommerce sites like Amazon, eBay and Facebook Marketplace for the boring household goods that have become hot items during the coronavirus pandemic. The shortages have inspired some mercenary sellers to excessive pricing (say, hand sanitizer for $149) and prompted the tech companies to crack down on price gougers. The hoarding frenzy has also been catnip for armchair humorists, who have found an unlikely platform to yuk it up in the free classifieds of Facebook Marketplace.
On the social network’s 800 million-user shopping site, one Internet standup is offering “toilet paper, extra long roll” for $69,4202—it’s a CVS receipt wound around the toilet paper dispenser. Another wants to sell you the “last roll of toilet paper in the world,” marked at $10,000. As a last resort, yet another smart aleck is advertising $90 toilet paper alongside a photo of sandpaper. “Don’t go without during this crisis,” it reads.
In reality, there’s no toilet paper crisis. Unlike imports such as iPhones and flat-screen TVs, most U.S. toilet paper comes from domestic factories, buffering supplies from a drop in production in China, where the viral outbreak started. Georgia-Pacific, maker of AngelSoft and Quilted Northern, is boosting its U.S. production. Proctor & Gamble, which makes Charmin brand toilet paper, Bounty paper towels and Puffs facial tissue, says production at its U.S. plants is at record highs. “Demand continues to outpace supply, but we are working diligently to get product to our retailers as fast as humanly possible,” says P&G spokeswoman Loren Fanroy.
Which makes it all the more absurd that anxious shoppers stripped supermarket shelves of every last double-ply roll. Relishing the irony, Kim Marie, a 42-year-old naturopathic practitioner from Manorville, New York, decided this week to flog “vintage toilet paper” on Facebook Marketplace. For just $55,990, she’s showcasing a water-damaged and rotting roll mounted on a rustic wall, closing with the Craigslist battlecry of overpriced junker listings, “no low ballers, I know what I got.” Marie, who regularly sells vintage housewares on the site, says she has received no serious inquiries. Just as well, since the item listed isn’t actually in Marie’s possession— it was a funny photo texted to her by her husband. She threw it up on Marketplace “to lighten the mood.”
It was the “organic toilet paper,” a $10 baggie of leaves listed on Facebook Marketplace by her brother’s girlfriend, that inspired Liz Stoppiello, 27. The stay-at-home mom usually sells items like car seats and books on Facebook Marketplace. This week she’s offering “washable crochet toilet paper! Been used only a cpl times” for a cool $100. The advertised off-white crochet squares, wrapped around a cardboard tube, look worthy of an Etsy storefront. It took about 30 minutes to make. She just wanted to “get a good laugh” from people and to promote her crochet-oriented Facebook page. “You never know if anyone will start to desperately need handmade items in the near future lol,” she said via email.
Her fellow Marketplace posters might be in on the joke, but Facebook’s bots are not. The social network, which uses artificial intelligence to help monitor content and warned Monday that its systems may have removed some COVID-19-related posts in error, had flagged Traichel’s toilet paper ad for unprocessed wood as “under review.”
Facebook “must be so flooded they don’t know what to do,” Traichel emailed, adding an “lol.” He isn’t interested in making a profit, at least not on his firewood. “If people really need toilet paper, I’ll give ‘em a roll.”
–Helen A. S. Popkin, Forbes Staff, Innovation
Huawei Unleashes “P40 Pro” Model With Nasty C And SA Biggest Celebs
JOBURG – Friday, May 29, 2020/www.gbafrica.net/ – Huawei welcomed its new HUAWEI P40 series ambassadors to the Huawei family. These include rapper Nasty C, TV personality Thando Thabethe, actor and entrepreneur Nay Maps, former Miss South Africa Tamryn Green as well as fashion designer David Tlale. They joined forces with Huawei, handing out over R500 000 worth of prizes to viewers, including P40 devices and shopping vouchers.
Huawei on Friday unleashed its HUAWEI P40 series to South Africa through a live streaming event hosted by TV host and actress Minnie Dlamini.
The HUAWEI P40 Series is a comprehensive upgrade from the previous generation and is equipped with Huawei’s most sophisticated camera system to date, capable of producing breath-taking imagery with a lightweight chassis.
One of the impressive features is the Ultra Vision Leica Quad Camera. The camera works as a highly unified system, making users shoot captivating pictures at any time of day or night, whether the subject is up close or at a distance.
It also has 45% better colour precision and is capable of accurate analysis and segmentation of environments and people. With pixel level enhancement, it restores the original look with great lighting, natural colour and sharp details
“These devices are testament to the fact that Huawei is unafraid to break the rules and to exceed expectations, and it does all of that in style,” said Huawei in a statement on Friday.
The Huawei P40 Pro is priced at R20 999 and the HUAWEI P40 retails at just R16 999. They are available from 1 June from all mobile operators and www.huaweistore.co.za
Seasoned Professionals To Discuss The ‘The Future Of Work’ At The Virtual MTN Business World Executive Breakfast Meeting On Thursday May 28.
GREATER ACCRA, GHANA, May 27th, 2020/www.gbafrica.net/ Seasoned professionals in corporate Ghana will converge on the MTN Business World Breakfast Meeting platform to discuss the theme “The Future of Work is here-Preparing the Work Place for new Talent Needs”.
Estelle Akofio Sowah, West Africa Regional Manager, CSquared, Julian Opuni, CEO Fidelity Bank, Ghana, Ehi Benitie Co-Founder Rancard and CEO of Clear Space Labs and Franklin Asare, Country Director Oracle Ghana will share insights on how emerging trends in the global economy and how technologies could remodel the way we work. They will also discuss how we can find the right balance between humans and technology, ways to improve employee experience and more importantly explore the unique opportunities embedded in the Future of Work.
The panel will also share insights on how technological advancement such as the use of artificial Intelligence and robotics could impact talent acquisition vis a vis the strong believe that it will create an opportunity for businesses to develop new models for labour.
The MTN Business Breakfast Meeting which has been digitalised will stream live on MTN Ghana’s Facebook page from 9:00am on Thursday 28th May 2020.
Commenting on the theme: the Chief Marketing Officer for MTN Ghana, Mr. Noel Kojo-Ganson, expressed his excitement about the opportunity being created with this online meeting which will allow more people to participate and make contributions to the discussion. He lauded the theme indicating that it was very timely and relevant to today’s workforce and those who are preparing for opportunities ahead. He urged all persons who are interested in knowing about the ‘Future of Work’ to join the Breakfast session via MTN’s Facebook page to gain valuable insights especially in this period where COV!D -19 is redefining the way people live and work.
Def Jam Taps Into “Hip-hop, Afrobeats and Trap Talent In Africa As It Launches In South Africa and Nigeria
LAGOS STATE – Tuesday, May 26, 2020/www.gbafrica.net/ – A little more than a half a year after launching Def Jam South East Asia, Universal Music Group today announced Def Jam Africa, a new division based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria, that will focus on “hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa and report to Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa Managing Director Sipho Dlamini.
Over the past few years, the major labels have invested more aggressively in Africa – both to market streaming services and, especially, to sign talent — and Universal now has offices in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, and Morocco. Until recently, however, the company’s ventures there haven’t had as much freedom to shape their brand identities as their U.S. counterparts.
Def Jam Africa launches with a roster that includes some of the most successful African talent including Nigeria’s Larry Gaaga and Vector alongside South Africa’s Boity, Cassper Nyovest, Nadia Nakai, Nasty C, Tshego, Tellaman and Ricky Tyler. A majority of who were already signed to UMG. This roster will be supported by dedicated A&R, marketing, creative and digital teams from the UMG teams in both Nigeria and South Africa.
Def Jam Recordings interim chairman & CEO Jeff Harleston said in Universal’s announcement that, taking Def Jam to Africa and other markets could give Universal additional leverage at a time when the major labels are competing more with indies to sign emerging hip-hop acts, adding that, Def Jam is a globally recognized brand, synonymous with excellence in hip-hop. Fittingly, the new division’s logo combines the image of a tonearm Def Jam uses on its vinyl releases with a map of Africa.
Dlamini shared in a press release that the aim for Def Jam Africa is to become the authentic and trusted home of hip-hop and urban culture in Africa. “Def Jam Recordings has always historically pushed the boundaries of the genre,” he said, “and we are excited to create a new community of artists within the continent, shaped around the unique and multi-cultural sounds, rhythms and productions coming from our streets, in order to help elevate hip-hop, afrobeat and trap music from Africa, to reach new global audiences within the continent, across the diaspora and beyond.”
The Crazy Things People Are Betting On In The Absence Of Live Sports
TOPLINE With most live sports suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, online gamblers have turned to different contests like Russian table tennis and Korean baseball, while also betting on everything from video games and reality television shows to political news and even the weather.
- “[English] darts and esports have had big increases in betting volumes, along with football [soccer] leagues that have kept playing like the Belarusian Premier League,” says Pascal Lemesre, a spokesman for U.K. betting exchange platform Smarkets. “Horse racing remains our most-traded sport and has made up two-thirds of volume since the lockdown began.”
- Many betting companies, like DraftKings, had to really dig and get creative with new offerings during the pandemic, says Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook for DraftKings. “We went out and found whatever we could… we wanted to keep our customers engaged.”
- A charity golf match with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickleson and Tom Brady, for example, has drawn massive interest and could surpass the betting volumes DraftKings saw in last year’s major golf tournaments.
- Betting on esports has also seen a huge uptick and has really “made its mark,” he says: Virtual NASCAR races proved to be immensely popular, along with daily fantasy for video games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
- There has also been a lot of interest in betting on politics, including who will win the 2020 U.S. presidential election, who Democratic nominee Joe Biden will choose as his vice president and how long UK prime minister Boris Johnson will stay in office.
- According to data from Smarkets, almost $2 million has already been traded on the election, with Donald Trump retaining a 5% lead over Joe Biden; Kamala Harris is frontrunner to be Biden’s VP, slightly ahead of Amy Klobuchar.
- Since the Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in mid-March, DraftKings has offered free-to-play betting pools around many political events, along with reality television shows like Survivor and Top Chef, and even the weather in certain states.
Bettors have certainly shown interest in gambling on the outcomes of their favorite TV shows: According to data from BetOnline, there was even a flurry of betting on the final episode of The Last Dance, with odds on things like whether Michael Jordan would cry while being interviewed or how many people would be shown with a cigar in their mouth.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Sportsbooks are seeing huge pent-up demand as some major sports like NASCAR and German Bundesliga soccer start to resume. Soccer, which normally makes up 45% of the Smarkets’ betting volume, fell to 23%, maintained largely by interest in the Belarusian Premier League and Nicaraguan soccer, both of which continued to play games amid the pandemic. With the German Bundesliga resuming last weekend, betting volumes increased 428% compared to the previous round of fixtures before coronavirus, according to Smarkets.
“When you don’t have all the normal content, customers will migrate,” Avello says. “That’s the positive that’s going to come out of this—we’re always looking for additional content.”
DraftKings reported record betting during the NFL Draft last month—13x the volume from last year—and has also seen strong interest in the recent return of Ultimate Fighting Championship events, the company said. “We got good action on the stuff we did, but now that we’re starting to get back to core events, demand should rise even higher,” Avello predicts. If the NBA and NHL start playoff seasons this summer and the MLB returns, for instance, “it could be one of the bigger summers that we’ve ever had.”
– Sergei Klebnikov, Forbes Staff, Markets
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