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Mastercard names inaugural artists for Web3 accelerator

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Singer Manu Manzo on the stage
Singer-songwriter Manu Manzo, one of the artists selected for the accelerator, released her first six-track EP titled Como Soy in 2015 | Photo: Twitter/manumanzo

Up-and-coming musical artists from Latin America and Europe are the first creators selected to participate in the first-of-its-kind Mastercard Artist Accelerator program. Each artist will go on a unique journey to grow their career in Web3. Expanding the footprint of the program to people around the world, passionate fans of music and Web3 are encouraged to join in by redeeming the Mastercard Music Pass NFT.  

Through one-on-one mentor sessions and a host of educational materials, the artists will learn how to harness Web3 tools to create original tracks. With the Mastercard Music Pass, fans can unlock access to exclusive program content and experiences and learn alongside artists to sharpen their own tools and knowledge of the space. The music tracks produced through the Accelerator will also be redeemable as NFTs as well as performed live by the artists in a special showcase. 

“Emerging technology is completely changing the world around us. With the Mastercard Artist Accelerator, it’s our privilege to provide people with the tools they need to get closer to the things they love most—now and into the future.” said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “The artists we’re working with are amazing talents, bringing different stories, styles and experiences to the table. I’m so inspired by them and excited to see what we accomplish together.”  

The participating artists represent a range of genres and geographies and were chosen because of their unique story, sound and inclusion-focused mindset. The first two artists to join the Mastercard Artist Accelerator include Manu Manzo, a Latin pop artist from Venezuela who was nominated for “Best New Artist” at the 2015 Latin GRAMMY Awards; and Young Athena, an R&B soul singer and BRIT School alumna who describes her sound as female empowerment music that everybody can learn something from.

“As an up-and-coming artist, I am always trying to find new ways to break through all the noise to be seen and make an impact in the music industry—and reach new possible fans,” said Manu Manzo, Mastercard Artist Accelerator participant. “The Mastercard Artist Accelerator gives independent artists like me the necessary tools and support so that we can connect with a lot more people and create our own personalized path toward our dreams.“ 

The limited-edition Mastercard Music Pass will be redeemable in mid-April. Minted on the Polygon blockchain, its design is completely unique to Mastercard. It leverages Mastercard’s design principles as well as its sonic melody to create a striking digital collectible. Combining both form and function, it serves as the key to unlock the Accelerator platform. Only Music Pass holders will be able to access the program.  

“Web3 offers emerging artists powerful new opportunities to gain more recognition, visibility, and control over their work by providing decentralized marketplaces, NFTs, and direct fan engagement,” said Ryan Wyatt, president of Polygon Labs. “The Mastercard Music Pass is a great example of how NFTs can unlock exclusive content and resources to empower emerging artists” 

For more information about the Mastercard Artist Accelerator and to sign up to stay in the loop on upcoming program milestones, visit Mastercard.com/Artist-Accelerator.  

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Model-turned-comedian to star in BBC fashion drama

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Model-turned-comedian to star in BBC fashion drama
Written, created by and starring British actor Michelle De Swarte, Spent launches this Summer

A new six-part comedy-drama created by and starring Michelle De Swarte (The Baby, The Duchess) will premiere this summer on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

‘Spent’ is produced by BAFTA award-winning production company Various Artists Ltd. (Juice, I May Destroy You, Such Brave Girls, Sally4Ever). It is part-inspired by Swarte’s own experiences of the modelling industry and the trials and tribulations that come along with it. Michelle de Swarte stars as Mia, a former catwalk model who is on the run, mainly from herself. Long term it’s a story of personal renewal but for now, the stark reality is that her career is over, she’s flat broke and she’s homeless.

Alongside Swarte, the series stars Juliette Cowan, Amanda Wilkin, Matt King, Jamali Maddix, Karl Collins, Eleanor Nawal and Rachel Ofori.

Born in South London, Michelle De Swarte was scouted at 19 whilst working in Segaworld in the Trocedero Centre at Picadilly Circus. Soon after, Swarte moved to New York where she worked for major major fashion houses round the world including Burberry, Missoni, Tommy Hilfiger, Cartier, and Michael Kors. However, Swarte’s career as a runway model stopped abruptly and she moved back to London with nothing to show for her time in the fashion industry. Having to re-evaluate her career, Swarte transitioned to stand-up comedy and acting where she has starred as a series regular in Katherine Ryan’s series The Duchess for Netflix and had her first leading role in Sky/HBO’s The Baby.

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UK Police officer who ran down cow removed from duties

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UK Police officer who ran down cow removed from duties
The incident took place on Friday on a residential street in Staines-upon-Thames, UK at around 9pm

An officer who was driving a response police car to ram an escaped cow twice has been removed from frontline duties, Surrey Police has confirmed in a statement released on Sunday, June 16th.

The incident took place on Friday on a residential street in Staines-upon-Thames, UK, at around 9pm, where the animal was hit in front of members of the public.

“I fully appreciate the distress our handling of this incident has caused and will ensure that it is thoroughly and diligently investigated. In addition to an internal referral to our Professional Standards Department, we have also referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for independent consideration,” said Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp.

“At this time, the officer who was driving the police car has been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of these investigations.

“I know there is much concern around the current welfare of the cow. She is now back with her owner and recuperating with her herd. She did sustain a large cut to one leg and cuts and grazes. She continues to be monitored by a vet and our rural officers are staying in contact with the owner for updates.

“I can confirm that on the night, efforts were made to contact local vets without success and efforts were simultaneously being made to identify the owner.  Why these were unsuccessful and what more could and should have been done will form a key part of the investigation.

“As well as our overriding duty to protect the public, the welfare of animals is important to us and we know people want answers about how this happened and what led up to it. I am committed to ensuring that we have a full understanding of what took place and why, and we will fully support any investigation. I have also briefed the Home Office on what action we are taking and we are liaising with several animal charities that have been in touch with us about this incident.  

 “We will continue to provide both our local communities and the wider public with updates as investigations into this matter continue”.

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Appetite for Ozempic boost Novo Nordisk brand value up 59%

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A woman checks her toned image in a mirror
Novo Nordisk emerges as Denmark’s second most valuable and second fastest-growing brand | Photo: Szabolcs Toth

Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company producing semaglutide drugs Ozempic and Wegovy which are in high demand for weight loss, is now Denmark’s second most valuable brand according to new data from Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Second only to LEGO, Novo Nordisk is valued at DKK35.4 billion, up 59%. Now also Denmark’s second-fastest growing brand, Novo Nordisk has surpassed  LVMH to become Europe’s most valuable company by market cap.

LEGO is Denmark’s most valuable brand for the ninth consecutive year, with a 3% brand value increase to DKK55.2 billion. With an AAA Brand Strength Index (BSI) rating, LEGO also remains Denmark’s strongest brand, underscoring decades of built-up brand equity and enduing nostalgia, demonstrated by excellent scores for familiarity, satisfaction, and consideration.

Tryg is Denmark’s fastest-growing brand, up 62% to DKK11.0 billion. Brand Finance data shows the brand is well-known and highly reputable across Denmark.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:

“The massive and unrelenting demand for semaglutide has led to Wegovy and Ozempic supply shortages while also dramatically raising brand awareness for Novo Nordisk. With projected sales growth of 19-24% for 2024, the pharmaceutical company must expand production while strategically positioning its brand to stay ahead of emerging competitors. If Novo Nordisk manages its brand well while successfully meeting demand for its products, it could surpass LEGO in the 2025 rankings, blocking LEGO from a decade-long reign as Denmark’s most valuable brand.”

Vestas, Danfoss, and ROCKWOOL are Denmark’s strongest industrial brands. Vestas (brand value up 6% to DKK23.9 billion), the strongest industrial brand with a BSI score of 82.4 out of 100 and an AAA- rating, notes high scores across several brand strength metrics, including reputation and promotion. Danfoss (brand value up 10% to DKK12.4 billion) ranks second, with an AA+ rating. ROCKWOOL (brand value DKK3.6 billion) maintains an AA+ rating and ranks as Denmark’s third strongest industrial brand, boasting a BSI score of 75.3 out of 100. ROCKWOOL performs well across brand strength metrics, such as promotion and its ability to command a price premium.

As part of its brand valuations, Brand Finance analyses the contribution of sustainability on overarching brand value. Brand Finance quantifies brands’ sustainability perceptions in its Sustainability Perceptions Index. According to Brand Finance research, Vestas is recognised as the most sustainable Danish industrial brand across the environmental and social dimensions of ESG (environmental, social, and governance). ROCKWOOL ranked second across all three ESG dimensions among Danish industrial brands, attributed to its commitment to climate resilience and sustainability.

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