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Gritty is a marketing marvel and an international election icon. The artist behind him weighs in on Gritty fever: ‘I don’t think he’s going away anytime soon.’ | Markets Insider

People wear costumes of U.S. Postal Service mailboxes, Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, and Independence Hall whil……

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AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

  • Gritty, the monstrously orange mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League franchise, has become a resistance symbol, especially amid the 2020 election.
  • But when he was first launched in 2018, the mascot didn’t get a wholly positive reaction.
  • Brian Allen, the artist behind Gritty, talked to Business Insider about the marketing strategy behind the fun-loving monster and why he thinks people have latched on to him. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
  • As the ballots were being counted in Philadelphia, one orange monstrosity was omnipresent as locals gathered — and the world watched the Pennsylvania results roll in.

    He has googly eyes, an ever-changing belly button, a slight propensity for violence, and a mass of orange fur.

    His name is Gritty, if you haven’t heard, and his day job is to serve as the mascot for hockey’s Philadelphia Flyers.

    renowned leftist iconan international resistance symbolDonald Trump’s mortal enemyFrench media puzzled:c’est quoi Gritty?

    Gritty stands as one of the most irreverent (and successful) marketing tactics in recent American history. A mascot, an envoy, an archetype — of a team, of a city, of a movement, and perhaps 2020 itself.

    How to design a marketing coup

    Gritty, in his Mel Brooks-ian embrace of the absurd, has found an audience.

    An initial run of Gritty bobbleheads flew off the shelves, and the Flyers created a Gritty of the month bobblehead. A search for Gritty on Etsy returns 3,236 results. When the Flyers store reopened this summer after shuttering for the pandemic, one of its new pieces of merchandise featured a portrait of the monster himself, with an overlay that says “Summer of Grit.” During election week, the term “Gritty” saw a spike on Google Trends.

    Artist Brian Allen, who runs Flyland Designs and has worked with clients like Hasbro and Marvel, said he was approached by the Flyers about two or three months before Gritty was released in 2018. They were displeased with the “traditional” and “safe” concepts they had received for a mascot.

    “The art director said was that they wanted him to be somebody who you’d want to high five, but not hug,” Allen said. “They wanted him to be right off the rails at the beginning.”

    Allen said that he presented the Flyers with about 25 different concepts, which spanned everything from a bulldog, different monsters, and a more human silhouette. He couldn’t comment on the specific concepts, but said that Gritty was in his “top three” of potential designs.

    Brian Allen

    Allen said that Gritty’s ascent to international resistance symbol ‘kinda came out of nowhere’

    And that ties in to the marketing strategy behind Gritty. Allen emphasized that a more normative mascot — one that’s essentially someone in a big foam mask — wouldn’t necessarily resonate today. Gritty was born to be an outsider, and that’s made all the difference.

    From humble origins to social media star

    Gritty did have a bit of a rough launch; while children who met him first loved his absurdity, the Internet wasn’t so kind. In his initial rollout, he was met with a mixed reception by the people of Philadelphia (and fascination and horror from Internet denizens).

    His early social media presence — where Gritty’s personality emerged, including one tweet where he threatened the Pittsburgh Penguins — “saved the day.”

    “I don’t know if this is still true — it may not because of how big he’s become — but the performer actually was writing most or handling most of his own social media,” Allen said, “which I think is really unique because normally in these situations, you’d have some corporate social media team running through everything.” 

    His chaos is his draw, and has helped catapult him to international fame, with coverage in Palestinian and French media. For instance, there’s now a female Gritty — Grittney — roaming the streets of London with pro-democracy messages.

    “None of these people, I’m sure, are Flyers fans; they’re probably not even hockey fans,” Allen said. “And I think that’s what really speaks to the success of Gritty for the Flyers is that their brand is now recognizable way beyond the sport.”

    Gritty and the Philadelphia Flyers did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

    Brian Allen

    What’s next for Gritty

    Allen, the artist behind it all, can’t say how much he made creating for Gritty, since he signed an NDA.

    “A lot of people assume I’m a millionaire now and I’m not. Check with me in 50 years.”

    But he did say that the design of Gritty is the “most recognizable thing I’ve done.” Allen is appreciative that his name has been so attached to Gritty. He’s worked with big brands, including Metallica, before, but he said that those designs are often released, get buzz, and that’s it. 

    “Gritty does not go away — whether you want him to or not,” Allen said. “And I don’t think he’s going away anytime soon.”

    Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/artist-behind-gritty-on-marketing-gritty-does-not-go-away-2020-11-1029803387

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    Two new Florida cruises have cabins for solo travelers – see inside the ships

    The Solo Suite available in 2022. Atlas Ocean Voyages Over the last month, Oceania Cruises and Atlas Ocean Voyages have unveiled ships with si…

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    The cruise industry is gradually resuming operations, and at the same time, some cruise lines are tapping into a specific segment of customers: solo travelers.

    volunteer employees boarding a cruise ship carrying luggageVolunteer Royal Caribbean employees for the Freedom of the Seas sailing at PortMiami on June 20.

    Marta Lavandier/AP Photo

    Over the past month, two Florida-based cruise lines – including a newcomer to the industry – have unveiled new ships with cabins designed for lone travelers.

    top view of the World NavigatorThe World Navigator.

    Atlas Ocean Voyages

    But solo cruising isn’t a new trend: Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, and Norwegian have already successfully rolled out single-person accommodations.

    a bed next to a desk, tv, and mirrorThe Solo Insider.

    Virgin Voyages

    Source: Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, Norwegian Cruise Line

    And so far, it’s been a success. For brands like Virgin, these solo rooms “perform really well,” John Diorio, the cruise line’s associate vice president of sales, told Johanna Jainchill for Travel Weekly.

    a bathroom with a shower, sink, mirrorThe Solo Insider.

    Virgin Voyages

    Source: Travel Weekly

    Staying in solo suites allows independent travelers to bypass paying single supplements, the fees that come with staying in a room designed for more than one occupant.

    a bed besides a balcony with views of the oceanThe Anthem of the Seas’ Studio Ocean View Stateroom with a balcony.

    Royal Caribbean International

    Some solo travelers see this single supplement as a “major obstacle” and a “penalization” for solitary vacations, Alberto Aliberti, president of Atlas Ocean Voyages, told Insider in an email statement.

    a bed besides a balcony with views of the oceanThe Quantum of the Sea’ Superior Studio Ocean View with a balcony.

    Royal Caribbean International

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Atlas Ocean Voyages just debuted this month, and it’s the first luxury cruise line to join the market in over 20 years, according to the company.

    the exterior of the World NavigatorThe World Navigator.

    Atlas Ocean Voyages

    Source: Insider

    To cater to this solo traveler segment, Atlas Ocean Voyages decided to include single-person suites aboard its first and and only vessel.

    a rendering of a bed facing a TV with a window in the backThe Solo Suite available in 2022.

    Atlas Ocean Voyages

    The brand’s World Navigator cruise ship has 98 guest rooms that can accommodate just under 200 travelers.

    a bed besides a armchair, lights, and a nightstandThe Veranda Stateroom.

    Atlas Ocean Voyages

    Beginning March 2022, the World Navigator will also have six 183-square-foot suites designated for solo travelers.

    a rendering of a bed facing a TV with a window in the backThe Solo Suite available in 2022.

    Atlas Ocean Voyages

    These single rooms – which Aliberti says have prompted “very positive responses” – will come with the same perks as the ship’s other suites. This includes binoculars and in-room Nespresso coffee, a stocked mini-refrigerator, and bar and butler services.

    a rendering of a bed facing a TV with a window in the backThe Solo Suite available in 2022.

    Atlas Ocean Voyages

    Similarly, in July, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Oceania Cruises brand announced plans for its Vista cruise ship, which will officially debut in 2023.

    a living room with a couch, coffee table, and deskThe Concierge Level Solo Veranda stateroom.

    Oceania Cruises

    Source: Oceania Cruises

    The Miami-based cruise line’s upcoming ship will have “concierge level solo veranda staterooms” created for lone travelers, a first for the cruise line.

    a bed tucked away in the corner of the suite with the living room in the backgroundThe Concierge Level Solo Veranda stateroom.

    Oceania Cruises

    Like Atlas Ocean Voyages, solo guests sailing with Oceania will have the same luxury amenities as other concierge level passengers, such as free laundry and access to the Concierge Lounge.

    a living room with a couch, coffee table, desk, and bed in the backgroundThe Concierge Level Solo Veranda stateroom.

    Oceania Cruises

    And according to Aliberti, that’s the point. Many of these “underserved” solo travelers want the suite amenities, just not the single supplement payments.

    a table with seats and a mirrorThe Solo Insider.

    Virgin Voyages

    Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/photos-florida-cruise-ships-cabins-for-solo-travelers-2021-8

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    Blackstone’s betting $6 billion on the rental market – here’s why private-equity loves real estate right now

    Jonathan Gray, Blackstone president and chief operating officer Heidi Gutman/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Blackstone is all-in on rent resets…

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    Jonathan GrayJonathan Gray, Blackstone president and chief operating officer

    Heidi Gutman/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

    • Blackstone is all-in on rent resets and long-term property assets to combat potential inflation.
    • Private equity firms have trillions of dollars in cash to put to work on acquisitions.
    • Blackstone’s share price ticked over $100 for the first time this month.
    • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

    It’s been quite the month for Blackstone.

    The private-equity behemoth is part of a consortium of investors that bought Medline for about $34 billion, its share price ticked over $100 for the first time, and it’s doubling down on residential real estate with a $6 billion Home Partners of America buy.

    It’s a bet on scorching demand for housing continuing, and also a defensive move as inflation worries start to seep into investors’ minds. The average price of a home topped $350,000 for the first time inn May, according to the National Association of Realtors, logging the largest-ever increase in prices since the NAR began tracking data.

    “Whether it’s apartments, storage facilities for warehouse distribution, or single-family homes, private-equity is getting into this as an inflation hedge,” Nicholas Tsafos, a partner with accounting firm EisnerAmper, told Insider.

    Home Partners, which owns more than 17,000 homes in the US, rents out these properties, but tenants have an opportunity to someday buy the home.

    In the single-family rental arena, private-equity firms can hike rents, while also holding onto profitable, tangible assets.

    “Because interest rates are low, and with the potential for a pick-up in inflation, private-equity also feels the need to be long on hard assets,” Tsafos said. “In real estate, you buy it today and then flip it for a higher price.”

    Jon Gray, Blackstone’s president and COO, alluded to it during the firm’s earnings call in April when he said multi-family apartments that come with the ability to reset rents were key for Blackstone.

    The firm bought many houses at remarkable discounts after the housing market crashed in 2007. It accumulated a number of single-family homes through a former portfolio company Invitation Homes. Blackstone sold its final block of shares in the company in 2019.

    The private-equity shop also favors logistics spaces, such as warehousing, life sciences offices, and media and studio businesses with offices, according to a June 22 research note from UBS.

    In October, Blackstone made a handsome investment when it sold life sciences real-estate company BioMed Realty for $14.6 billion, after acquiring it for about $8 billion in January 2016.

    And it’s not just Blackstone. Fellow private-equity investor KKR is investing in My Community Homes, a platform that buys and manages single-family rental properties, according to Bloomberg.

    KKR will invest in My Community Homes through its real-estate and private-credit vehicles.

    A spokesperson for KKR was not immediately available to comment.

    The Carlyle Group said in May that it provided up to $300 million to Four Springs Capital Trust, a private REIT that acquires and manages single-tenant properties with long-term net leases.

    Four Springs will use the money to build its portfolio, which encompasses 122 properties across 29 states, Carlyle said in a press release.

    The move on real estate comes while private investment firms sit on more than $1 trillion in cash. Borrowing costs, too, remain subdued as the Fed keeps interest rates at all-time lows.

    Given the sheer amount of dry powder available, coupled with accommodative credit markets, private-equity is keen to conduct a surfeit of acquisitions, and isn’t shy about injecting large sums of equity into prospective investments.

    Medline, for example, is expected to raise roughly $17 billion from the debt markets, while the private investors are providing a similar amount in equity.

    “Big leveraged buyouts are back in vogue,” said Christopher Zook, chairman and CIO of alternative investment manager CAZ Investments. “Whether it’s KKR or Blackstone, they have large capital to put to work. So they’ve got to do a ton of deals.”

    Disclaimer: KKR holds a majority stake in Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer.

    It’s been quite the month for Blackstone.

    Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/blackstone-home-partners-america-single-family-rental-real-estate-inflation-2021-6-1030556791

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    Trading the Fed, plus insights from a 99th-percentile fund manager

    Hello and welcome to Insider Investing. I'm Joe Ciolli, and I'm here to guide you through the current market and investing landscape. Here…

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    Hello and welcome to Insider Investing. I’m Joe Ciolli, and I’m here to guide you through the current market and investing landscape. Here’s what’s on the docket:

    If you aren’t yet a subscriber to Insider Investing, you can sign up here.

    Have thoughts on the newsletter? Just want to talk markets? Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or on Twitter @JoeCiolli.

    Fed-driven portfolio adjustments GettyImages 1228670990

    Pool/Getty Images

    The Federal Reserve left interest rates steady this past week while setting the stage for two hikes by year-end 2023. Traders, who took a wait-and-see approach before the Fed meeting, quickly sprung into action. Insider spoke with Wall Street and crypto investors to gauge how to position for the hawkish shift.

    Read the full story here:

    The Fed has left rates steady while signaling 2 potential hikes by the end of 2023. Here is what to do with your stocks, bonds, and digital assets, according to top Wall Street and crypto investors.99th-percentile insights and stock picks Dave Ellison

    Hennessy Funds

    Financial-sector stocks have outperformed the rest of the market over the last several months. Hennessy Funds’ Dave Ellison – who’s in the 99th percentile compared to peers over the past year – told Insider he expects their strong performance to continue. He shared 5 financial stocks to buy now in order to take advantage of the remaining upside.

    Read the full stories here:

    Dave Ellison has beaten 99% of his peers over the last year managing the Hennessy Small-Cap Financial Fund. He breaks down why he thinks financial stocks still have room to run – and shares 5 names to bet onSPAC shorts SPACs and hedge funds 2x1

    Brian Snyder/Reuters; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider

    Short interest in SPACs stood at $3.2 billion in mid-June, up from $2.7 billion. The uptick in SPAC shorts comes as the market works to recover from a weeks-long slowdown, and one ETF manager expects recently “de-SPACed” companies to see short activity surge soon. Exclusive data shows the 20 most-shorted blank-check companies right now.

    Read the full stories here:

    Bets against SPACs are revving back up as the market attempts a comeback. Here are the 20 most-shorted blank-check companies now.YOU’RE INVITED: A Millennial Guide to Home Ownership

    Join us and learn how to navigate the complicated process of buying a home in today’s hot market on Tuesday, June 22 at 12 p.m. ET – during a free, hour-long virtual event presented by Fidelity.

    Register here.

    Stock pick central

    Seeking experts who are willing to name names? Look no further:

    Have thoughts on the newsletter? Just want to talk markets? Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or on Twitter @JoeCiolli.

    Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/trading-fed-99th-percentile-picks-spac-short-selling-insider-investing-2021-6-1030537490

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