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Moderna debuts first Spikevax brand campaign with lighthearted tone and catchy jingle

Moderna is turning its Covid-19 vaccine brand name Spikevax into a verb in its first ad campaign.
The debut TV ad — which includes an upbeat original…



Moderna is turning its Covid-19 vaccine brand name Spikevax into a verb in its first ad campaign.

The debut TV ad — which includes an upbeat original jingle — shows colorfully clad characters who ping pong, plunge, practice, brainpower and even flu-shot their bodies for good health. The other thing they do? “Spikevax that body. Because even though the pandemic is over, Covid-19 isn’t,” the voiceover says.

Michael Meehan

“People are really almost sick and tired of talking about the pandemic and being told what to do. We wanted to kind of put it back in their hands, and make the idea of vaccination simple, approachable and normalize this as part of their health routine,” said Michael Meehan, Moderna’s VP, global franchise lead, Covid-19.

The characters in the campaign are purposefully exaggerated. One healthy-eating woman looks at a refrigerator stuffed only with leafy greens. Another rides a stationary bike wearing a pink virtual reality headshot.

Moderna did test more serious concepts. They tried creative ideas that were more like its recent unbranded “No Time for 19,” using statistics to point out Covid-19 is still around and causing significant health problems. But those didn’t resonate with focus groups, Meehan said.

“They just didn’t test well. And that led us to a real focus to keep it lighthearted,” he said. “People didn’t want to go back there.”

The “Spikevax That Body” campaign will run on TV, audio, at retail and through marketing partnership events, Meehan said. It also includes digital marketing, including redirects to the Spikevax website, which includes a vaccine locator.

The voiceover actor is Fredi Walker-Browne, best known for her Broadway role in “Rent” as JoAnne Jefferson.

Throughout the TV ad, Walker-Browne’s voiceover refers to the vaccine as not only Spikevax, but specifically as “Spikevax by Moderna,” and that was intentional, too. Since the vaccine had largely been used under EUA, it could not be branded and most simply referred to it as the Moderna vaccine. Now that it’s been officially FDA-approved, Moderna is using the campaign to help make the connection to the marketing-allowed brand name.

The newly-debuted campaign comes as Moderna said last week its Covid-19 vaccine revenue would likely hit the lower end of its projected $6 billion to $8 billion in sales for 2023 full year. It also estimated around $4 billion in Covid revenue for 2024 on the same call with investors.

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And It’s Gone

The line between politics and poasting has never been more blurry. Unpacking South Park’s “And it’s gone” meme in the context of Occupy Wall Street,…



This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Withdrawal Issue”. Click here to subscribe now.

A PDF pamphlet of this article is available for download.

Stan Marsh, age 10, is standing in line at the bank. He’s just received $100 from his grandma and despite wanting to spend it, his dad has brought him to the local branch to learn the important life lesson of saving money. Stan brings his check to one of the clerks, who commends him for letting his money work for him, puts it into a money market mutual fund, reinvests the earnings into foreign currency accounts with compounding interest — and promptly loses all of it.

The “And it’s gone” meme, as it’s now known, is an interesting starting point to begin thinking about memetic history, especially as it relates to memes as a response to financial crises. The episode itself aired in March of 2009, six months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the same month that the popular first came online. (The template itself, however, did not arrive until 2012.)

This brings up an interesting pair of questions. First, why did the most enduring meme about the financial crisis only come about four years afterwards? The answer to this one is easy: The internet just wasn’t ready back then. In 2008, Twitter’s groundbreaking “hashtag” feature had only been out for a matter of months, Facebook was still years away from its IPO (the concept of a “timeline” instead of a “wall” would wait a similar amount of time), and would not hit the internet until Citibank stock finally started to claw its way back up from rock bottom.

So, fine, it’s not shocking that an iconic meme did not immediately come out of the crash, but here’s the second question. Why didn’t it come out of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in 2011? “And it’s gone” postdates the movement by several months, and it’s mildly shocking that for all the time spent in Zuccotti Park, it did not have a meme to show for it.

It’s an interesting conundrum because on paper, OWS was drowning in memes; they had everything but a JPEG. There were unforgettable catchphrases (“we are the 99%”), famous images (a ballerina dancing on the Wall Street bull), and central gathering points (eponymously, Wall Street). Adbusters, the creative activist magazine which began the protest that kicked off the occupation, was meme-adjacent from the start. One of the co-founders stated that their aim was to “pioneer a new form of social activism using the power of mass media to sell ideas”, an approach closely resembling the concept of memetic advertising in the 1990s, which sought to create the perfect blend of culture and brain worms to spread ideas contagiously.

OWS also exhibited memetic tendencies in the way it carried its business. The “People’s Mic” is one such example. Denied a permit to use a microphone, the organizers used a unique form of communication that used the protestors to amplify their messaging, rather than a speaker. One person would stand in the middle of a crowd and give their speech broken up into soundbites of a few words at a time, the people closest to them would repeat it louder for those behind them, and so on. If the People’s Mic was a meme-like exercise in repetitive speech, the public services they ran were a performance of committing to the bit. Take the library for example. They set up makeshift shelving structures, developed lending systems, and in the middle of all the mayhem managed to set up a passable operation. Of course, it didn’t work very well — a protest is not an ideal space for a library — but Stephen Duncombe, Professor of Media and Culture at NYU, notes that the OWS library was never intended to function in a traditional manner. A large part of OWS protest tactic was to, in his words, “perform” what they were demanding; in the case of the library, a selfless devotion to the commons. In the case of the people’s mic — similarly plagued by clear logistical issues (like seven-word shouts being a bottleneck on communication) — a decentralized, cooperative public sphere. The world is watching, so if you’re not going to do it for the vine, at least do it for the people at home watching through the TV cameras.

But again, all this — the 99% chants, the spectacles of anarchist community, media attention 24/7, and still no memes…? It would be too far to say that OWS was a failure. Their strategies have left some lasting imagery and continued relevance in the way that similar movements, like the Tea Party, have not. That said, their approach is illustrative of the immaturity surrounding internet communications and viral media strategy in the early 2010s. There was little thought given to how to activate others beyond “come here or start your own there” and no attempt to cohere a message beyond complete inclusion (“we are the 99%, yes you, and you too”). Radical? Yes. Contentless? Also yes. OWS had a lot of virality, and it was all empty.

To be fair, this was only the earliest iteration in what would be a decade defined by the internet realizing itself. The next year, just a month before “And it’s gone” came out, Kony 2012 ripped through the internet becoming the first video to reach 1 million likes on YouTube and bringing about a public discussion on what viral movements meant in the face of lazy “clicktivism”. The next year, the Harlem Shake proved that with sufficient viral momentum, it was easy to get hundreds of people to show up and make an offline event happen for an online trend. As the years went on, the internet only got more and more proof, taught via an endless stream of examples, of just how effective it could be en masse. A British research ship was named Boaty McBoatface and Trump was elected President of the United States in the same year — both after significant online pushes behind their candidacy. Coincidence, or testament to the awakening power of the online swarm?

Fast-forward to 2020, where two men face each other, one of them in tears. Hair high and tight, sporting a black and yellow bowtie, the despondent man lashes out against the other’s choice of monetary policy. “No!” He says, “You can’t artificially inflate the economy by creating money to fight an economic downturn!” His opponent, an old man, stares back silently, hand hovering over a button connected to a large machine. “You can’t just change market signals by using monetary policy”, he continues, increasingly distraught. “You are distorting the natural rate of interest!” The old man takes a sage-like breath and, with all the force of a butterfly’s wing, presses the button. “Haha”, he says calmly, words cloaked in koan as the machine hums to life, green notes shooting around the room, “money printer go brrr”.

This is a more evolved meme, one that is more than just something ripped from a South Park episode; “money printer go brrr” has a number of markers of progress compared to “And it’s gone”. First of all, its characters are two Wojacks, an evolution from and improvement upon, the rage comic figures of old; much more template-like and customizable than having completely different characters for individual emotions. Second, the writing is no longer top-text/bottom-text, a format that at this point dates almost any meme. Since the days of classic meme generators like QuickMeme and the like, there has been an explosion in the breadth of memes, both in styles and all the possible ways to make them. Creators are no longer going to QuickMeme or posting their content on imgur. These days they’re cultured and use apps like Mematic or pirated copies of Photoshop. Lastly, it has an AnCap (anarcho-capitalist) flag as the complainant’s bowtie, insinuating via its popularity that there is enough latent political literacy among posters that they can identify a rather niche political identity and lampoon it and that, in general, there is now a much greater visual vocabulary for memes and politics than a decade ago.

The biggest change, however, might be the non-visual one. This meme did not have to wait three years to get made. “Money printer go brrr” came out in tandem with the growing COVID-19 economic anxiety and developed in tandem with it. No longer was there a near half-decade gap between financial collapse and responding memes. In the decade since OWS, the lag time between memes and politics had shrunk from eras to hours.

For the financial crisis identified in “money printer go brrr”, instead of coming after the resulting organized political rebellion, the memes actually preceded it. By the time the pot boiled over and there was a mass unloading of grievance directed at financial institutions, it almost seemed like the logic of OWS had been inverted; instead of using memetic tactics towards political goals, the main upheaval of the financial turmoil of COVID-19, WallStreetBets (WSB), used political tactics towards its memetic ones — politics, in other words, became a very engaging means of shitposting.

Many would be loath to call WSB mature. After all, the subreddit describes itself as “if 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal”. Nevertheless, its takedown of Citadel and Robinhood by driving the price of GameStop and AMC through the roof shows many improvements upon and remixings of OWS tactics. First, instead of approaching the decentralization of messaging and power as a dynamic of complete unique inclusion (the OWS philosophy that anybody can demand anything), WSB took it as a dynamic of collective responsibility and expression (post however you want, but in service of holding the bag). Second, WSB leveled up the OWS ethos of performing the type of change you want to see in the world by choosing a medium of expression that actually affected their targets. Occupy kneecapped itself as a movement when it took a model from the Arab Spring struggles against state violence to a financial battlefield. While it makes sense to occupy an area as a resistance to a state because a state is defined by its control of an area, it makes no sense to occupy Wall Street because the forces of fractional reserve banking and globalization do not have a physical presence in the same way. They do, however, have economic and technological presence, which the average redditor can interact with via a handy iPhone app. By choreographing stock buys and orchestrating short squeezes, WSB not only gave the world a show of what it looked like when tens of thousands of people agreed to say “screw the hedge funds”, but they did it in a way that was participatory and accessible to anyone who wanted skin in the game. Sure, there was a profit motive when the battle was in their favor, but in the same way that OWS’ library was meant to illustrate a point more than to be a long-term institution, WSB was happy to play chicken with firms as their portfolios dwindled closer and closer to zero just to show they could. In their words, “we can stay retarded longer than you can stay solvent”.

From the delayed response of "And it’s gone" and the internet ineffectuality of Occupy Wall Street to the swift reactions of "money printer go brrr" and the larger-than-life online experience of WallStreetBets, the online swarm has learned to harness its collective power in ways that both entertain and enact change. While Occupy Wall Street may have been a harbinger of this potential, it was ultimately a movement that struggled to find its footing in the digital age. Today, however, we see a new generation of activists and meme lords who have successfully blurred the lines between politics and posting, meaning and memeing. Whether this is for better or worse is a question for the next decade, but at least this one already has the humor down.

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Withdrawal Issue”. Click here to subscribe now.

A PDF pamphlet of this article is available for download.

This is a guest post by Morry Kolman. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Here is why it is (still) taking forever to get a passport

An update from the State Department shows that passport processing times have fallen but are still historically very high.



Anyone who has tried to get a new travel document post-pandemic knows just how risky it is to plan a trip before having the passport in one's hands.

While passport services are notorious for being bureaucratically slow in many countries, the rush of people looking to take trips after the pandemic has kept many in different pockets of the U.S. waiting for as long as four months after submitting an application.

Related: The Best Ways to Accelerate the US Passport Process

"Processing times are cyclical and rise and fall based on seasonal demand," the State Department said in a statement in the summer of 2023. "However, the volume of applications we have received during periods this year has outpaced records set by last year's volume by more than 30%.”

State Department reports reduced wait times for passports.


Need to renew a passport this fall? Here's how long it will take

In a new note posted on Nov. 6, the State Department said that average waiting times have fallen slightly to seven to 10 weeks from the eight to 11 weeks seen at the end of the summer. Those who pay an additional $60 for expedited service on top of the $130 fee for renewals and $165 for first-time applications can expect to wait three to five weeks instead of the previous seven to nine weeks.

More Travel:

Those time frames are, however, still significantly higher than the six weeks that many got theirs in before the pandemic. The State Department said that, between October 2022 and September 2023, it has seen "unprecedented demand" and processed over 24 million passports.

"As more Americans are traveling internationally again, we are directing resources to meet the unprecedented demand seen so far in 2023," the government agency says in a statement on its website.

While wait times have fallen slightly after the higher demand historically seen in the summer, the State Department also said that it is addressing the longer wait times by "aggressively recruiting and hiring across our passport agencies and centers."

Apply 'well in advance of any planned travel to avoid last-minute issues' 

Those who want to guarantee that their passport is ready before a given trip are encouraged "to apply for their passport well in advance of any planned international travel to avoid last-minute issues."

Other ways to accelerate the process include booking an in-person emergency appointment at a passport office that one can get in the case of pressing need such as family crisis (this also comes at an additional fee of $190) and paying an additional $20 for expedited mail delivery so that the passport comes faster once it is out of the processing center's hands.

And if one wants to start planning a trip without being certain that the passport will come in time, a protective measure could be to purchase extended trip insurance that will allow you to cancel without a loss if the passport does not come in in time.

"In that scenario, people should consider purchasing Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) travel insurance," Elad Schaffer, who leads the Faye Travel Insurance company, said in April. "With CFAR, travelers can nix their trip for any reason, and get 75% back on their pre-paid expenses, up to their estimated total trip cost.”

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Exclusive: 2 years after John McAfee’s death, widow Janice is broke and needs answers

Two years after John McAfee’s death, widow Janice tells Magazine she’s penniless and can’t move on until his autopsy records are released.



Two years after John McAfee’s death, widow Janice tells Magazine she’s penniless and can’t move on until his autopsy records are released.

Janice McAfee, the widow of tech impresario John McAfee, is still in the midst of grief. She is doing odd jobs to feed herself, has run out of funds, and still doesnt know what really happened to her husband.

Since the death of crypto guru and antivirus pioneer husband John McAfee in a Barcelona prison more than two years ago, she has remained in Spain in an undisclosed location and has only been saved from homelessness by the kindness of friends.

She cant move on because she still doesnt know what happened to her husband in spite of a September ruling this year from a Catalan court that John McAfee died by suicide and the case was effectively closed.

In an exclusive Zoom interview with Magazine, she explained her current situation.

For more than two years, Ive not only had to deal with the tragedy of Johns death, but its so hard to move on because the authorities refuse to release the autopsy of his death. I have tried and tried, but they will not let me see it.

There is the opportunity of an independent autopsy, but that will cost 30,000 euros, and I dont have the money to pay for it. All I want is to see his body for myself and know that really happened.

Not having the money myself to make the decision to find out what really happened is hard, but Im hoping that giving this interview will give people the opportunity to know whats really going on. I still have people contacting me who still cant believe hes dead, she says.

What happened to John McAfees $100-million fortune?

Although John was worth more than $100 million after he resigned from antivirus company McAfee in 1994 and sold his stock, his official fortune had dwindled to an estimated $4 million at the time of his death, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

He claimed in 2019 that he had no money and could not pay a $25-million court order over a wrongful death lawsuit. However, he was arrested the following year on U.S. charges of tax evasion, with authorities claiming he and his team had earned $11 million promoting cryptocurrencies. From prison, he told his 1 million Twitter followers he doesnt have any hidden crypto. I have nothing. But I regret nothing.

According to Janice, her husband didnt have a will or an estate, so there is no money, and because of the judgments against him in the U.S., its highly unlikely that any financial legacy will be passed on to her. 

John was able to tweet pictures of himself from inside his cell
John was able to tweet pictures of himself from inside his cell. (Twitter)

There are stories that there are secret caches and documents, but Janice was deliberately kept in the dark (about alleged secret treasure) by her husband, so she wouldnt be in danger. She also has a raft of unanswered questions about Johns untimely end. 

I dont think he thought things would have ended the way they did and nor did I. I dont know if he committed suicide; we talked every day after he was imprisoned near Barcelona. I dont know how he got strung up. 

I dont know if it was with a rope or a shoelace. In the prison report, it says that when they found him, he was still alive; he had a pulse and was breathing when they found him. A faint pulse, but a pulse is a pulse.

John McAfee and wife Janice McAfee (supplied)
John McAfee and his wife, Janice McAfee, were very much in love. (Supplied)

Janice cannot believe that when he was found in the cell with a ligature or shoelace around his neck, medical practitioners there appeared to have attempted CPR on him without removing it first.

I went to school to be a registered nursing assistant, and I know how to do CPR. Even in the movies, its the first thing you do: clear the airways. 

If somebody has something tight around their neck, thats the last thing you would do. The first thing would be to remove the obstruction, but you can see from the prison video that didnt happen. I dont know if it was negligence or stupidity; it just feels sinister. But now Im speculating, and I dont want to do that. 

Janice McAfee was frightened after Johns death

After her husbands death, Janice was frightened for her safety. While John had told her that the authorities were only after him, not her, she was still worried that she would be a target for others.

John always assured me that he wouldnt tell me anything that would put me in danger; that was a comfort. He was public about the 31 terabytes of information that he apparently possessed, but he never shared that with me, and I have no idea where it is or whether it actually existed.

But I feel safe at the moment. I have nothing to hide, and I dont even know how he really died, let alone what he possessed. If there was an independent autopsy, I can get some peace. There is an opportunity to do so, but its very expensive.

I first met Janice and John at a blockchain conference in Malta in 2018. Like the crypto world at the time, it was chaos but good chaos.

I interviewed him on stage, and it wasnt my finest hour, or maybe it was. There was something about being near him that affected me and made me behave on stage in a more carefree manner. Maybe thats what he could do, a Svengali of sorts.

Monty and John McAfee
Author Monty Munford got along famously with John McAfee. (Supplied)

John had been drinking whisky on the side of the stage but was sober and lucid. Janice was with him, protecting him from the thousands of people who wanted to speak to him.

She reminded me of Kim Kardashian when I interviewed her in Armenia calm, collected and almost zen-like in her presence. I immediately liked Janice and trusted her.

Later after the on-stage interview had been completed, I was approached by a husband-and-wife camera team who was doing a documentary on crypto that was almost finished, but they would love a word with John. Could I help?

I wasnt sure but texted Janice, and she said it was OK; John apparently liked me. I was invited to the penthouse suite and convinced the armed guard outside their room that I could vouch for the people with me. Again, not something I did every day.

John laughed when he saw me. You again, for f–ks sake! But he was civil to the husband-and-wife team and invited me to join him on a private yacht in Valletta Harbour that evening.

John McAfee was a presidential candidate twice.
John McAfee was a presidential candidate twice. (Twitter)

What goes on on private yachts stays there, but we became friends there and then, mainly because I was the only one not blowing smoke up my arse, according to John. Further invitations would follow notably to an island off North Carolina when he was still incognito and on the run.

We stayed in touch, and I conducted a couple of interviews with him during the pandemic when I was running a podcast. When I reached out to Janet on Twitter/X to see if she would be interested in doing her first interview, she said John considered me a friend and would be happy to do so.

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Janice McAfee still wants to recover John McAfees body

So, thats the backstory to this interview, but what is more important is the journey from this point on. Janice is determined to follow Johns wishes that, if died, he wanted his body to be cremated. 

His body is still in the morgue at the prison where he died. I dont know why they decided to hold on to his body. They dont need it. Two years ago, I had the money for an independent autopsy; a year ago, I had the money, but now I dont. 

Also read: Holy shit, Ive seen that! Coldies Snoop Dogg, Vitalik and McAfee NFTs: NFT Creator

I am surviving by taking little jobs here and there to feed myself; thats not whats important. What matters is what I can do for John. Im not a victim John was the victim and I need that autopsy report, not to continue a fight against Spanish authorities, but to know what really happened to him.

I put it to Janice that the perception was that John had run out of time and had come to the end of the road. An extradition order to the U.S. had been made hours before his death, and it was surely going to be hard for him in a U.S. prison. 

American authorities do not like people who thumb their noses at them, and an example would have been made of him. In some ways, didnt his apparent suicide make complete sense to a proud man?

We never talked about that. Ever. While he did tell me he wanted to be cremated, that was because he knew there were people who wanted him killed, but thats not the point. 

I dont want to be on one side or the other. Just tell me what the body says. Im not trying to seek justice theres no such thing on this earth any more. I just want Johns wishes to be fulfilled.

Janice is an American citizen, but shes understandably in no rush to go back to the U.S. when she doesnt know what her status is.

John McAfee Netflix documentary

A Netflix documentary called Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee was released last year and portrays her and John as fugitives, which is not something that Janice thinks represents the real story. 

It was more of a tale about the journalists themselves who tried to sensationalize a public figure and werent quite up to it. They centered themselves when the focus should have been on the real story of why McAfee felt disposed to be a so-called fugitive or why Janice was staying with him.

People forget very quickly, and I understand why because the world moves very fast nowadays. I just want him to be remembered properly, and thats the least he deserves.

Janice wants closure. She wants to cremate her husband, remember him with love, and work out what to do next.

I hope she gets her wish. Everybody deserves a chance to move on, and Janice McAfee much more than many others.

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