April 12, 2023

Today's Topics

Good morning! Joe Biden has arrived in Northern Ireland to begin a 4-day trip marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement — some residents in County Mayo and County Louth are particularly looking forward to welcoming “Cousin Joe”. Today we’re exploring:

  • Inside the box: Tupperware is in trouble.
  • Law & Order: Dick Wolf’s shows are still going strong.
  • PCs peaked: Shipments for personal computers keep falling.
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Tupperware Inc. is in trouble. Last Friday, the company submitted a filing admitting “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue” — sending shares plummeting ~50% on Monday.

Airtight marketing

Founded by chemist Earl Tupper in 1946, Tupperware truly began to take off when Brownie Wise became VP of Marketing in 1951. Wise took the concept of home-selling and supercharged it through her own business, Patio Parties, selling Tupperware to housewives before recruiting them to host their own parties. The result? A 20,000-strong network of sellers and distributors by 1954.These "Tupperware parties" remained a core part of the company's distribution, even after launching its own website. Indeed, the parties are still going today in 84 countries, with over 3 million independent sellers. So successful was Tupperware, that it became a catch-all term for the entire food storage category, a phenomenon known as a proprietary eponym, similar to Velcro, Band-Aid, Q-Tip and ChapStick.

Thinking inside the box

Despite its global brand, Tupperware has been struggling to re-invent itself. Last year, the company attempted to appeal to a younger audience by re-launching in Target, after a failed attempt in 2003. However, as time has passed Tupperware's lock on the food storage market has loosened, with customers opting for eco-friendly glass, stainless steel, silicone containers or just other plastic brands. Sales peaked a decade ago, and have fallen ever since. The company's shares have followed, and are down 90%+ this year alone.

Tupperware, like much else that it shares space with at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, may soon find itself out-of-date.

The Wolf pack

With over 2,000 hours of TV under his belt, 4 decades with the Universal Television network, and 9 shows currently on air, it’s perhaps unsurprising that NBC just renewed 6 shows from legendary producer Dick Wolf.

Best known for his genre-defining work on Law & Order (and its many offshoots), Wolf is one of the most prolific television producers of all time, with this latest crop of renewals taking his tally to over 84 seasons on NBC.

Criminal consistency

The super producer began work on Law & Order back in 1988 and, after getting dropped by Fox and CBS, the show found a home on NBC in 1990. Though the original show was canceled in 2010, the franchise never really left our screens, with popular spin offs like Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit racking up another 34 seasons between them and the original series getting rebooted by the network in 2022.

A cynic might call Law & Order formulaic — but it's that remarkable consistency in the eyes of viewers that's been its most admirable attribute. In the show’s original run from 1990-2010, just 1 of the 456 episodes scored below 7 on the rating site IMDB. Compare that to average ratings for the only two US scripted shows with more seasons, The Simpsons (here) and the aforementioned Wolf offering Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (here), and the show that spawned a mega franchise looks even more impressive.

Go deeper: see how other shows stack up on one of our favorite websites SeriesHeat here.

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Bad Apple

Worldwide shipments of Apple Macs fell to just 4.1 million units in the first quarter of 2023, according to IDC figures, as the wider PC market struggles after reaching near-10-year highs during the pandemic.

Other heavy hitters in the computer hardware market like HP, Lenovo and Dell also had a rough start to the year, with figures dropping 24%, 30% and 31%, respectively, confirming that the brief boom for the PC world now looks to be far behind us.

Shutting down

While the rise of working from home had many rushing out to order new laptops and computers to load Zoom on, the Q1 shipment figure is “noticeably lower” than pre-Covid levels, with analysts speculating that it’s not only a post-pandemic drop off, but also wider economic uncertainty that’s driving sales down.

The 56.9 million PC shipments figure recorded in Q1 is the second lowest in the last 10 years and represents a 29.3% fall from the same period in 2022.

More Data

• Thieves tunneled through a coffee shop bathroom into an Apple store and stole $500,000 worth of products.

• A YouGov survey found that 31% of respondents have pushed an elevator’s close door button just to avoid a short lift with someone.

1 in 6 Americans say they have witnessed a shooting.

• The latest IMF prediction places Britain as the worst performing G20 country this year, shrinking by 0.3%.


• Congress is officially the oldest it has ever been.

Our World in Data has visualized the rapid reduction in global childhood mortality.

Off the charts: Which streaming service, that we charted about in February, is combining with Discovery Plus? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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