Out of Scope

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Written by

Hirsch Leatherwood

Out of Scope

Zyn Is In

Plus: Noncompetes and Kim Kardashian’s PE struggles

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Happy Friday! This week, we examine the re-emergence of nicotine products nationwide. But first...


  • As streaming costs rise and quality fluctuates, many Americans have been labeled “serial churners,” methodically canceling and resubscribing to various streaming services. 30 million subscribers have canceled three or more services over the past two years.

  • The FTC announced their intent to ban noncompete clauses, a move that promises to create jobs and boost competitive wages. This continues a streak from FTC Chair Linda Khan, who has taken a more aggressive stance toward regulating corporate America than previous FTC leaders.

  • In the “phone eats first” economy, reservations are no longer just hard to come by — they’re expensive, too. The New Yorker eulogized “the neighborhood restaurant” this week, exploring why it’s become so difficult to make a dinner reservation, namely, resellers scooping up highly sought-after reservations and selling them for hundreds. See you all at Torrisi, or not.


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  • This week Philip Morris reported an 80% sales increase for Zyn, its nicotine pouch brand, last quarter. Zyn—basically tobacco dip without the tobacco— now owns more than 74% of the U.S. nicotine pouch market. Politicians and community leaders have raised concerns about its popularity among young people.

  • Zyn has emerged during a major shift in smoking habits. There was some furor about increased smoking during the pandemic, but research indicates that cigarette smoking is at historic lows in the U.S.

  • Why are we talking about this here? Because it’s about branding. Fashion and culture magazine Highsnobiety (who just won an ASME for general excellence) published a trend analysis about the “rebranding [of] nicotine as a long-lost tool for focusing and enhanced brain performance. Young people aren’t smoking when they drink, they’re vaping when they do schoolwork.”

  • Big Tobacco is enmeshed in the lore of American brandwork. Think of Don Draper saving Lucky Strike in the Mad Men pilot (“It’s toasted!”). But reframing nicotine as a study aid and healthy alternative to traditional tobacco products may be the industry’s biggest communications coup in a century.

  • Here is where we state the obvious: smoking is bad for you! Nicotine is addictive! No matter how these products are positioned, the science stays the same.


In case you missed these reads:

  • Amidst poor financial management decisions and branding missteps, Chicago and D.C. favorite Foxtrot shuttered its 33 locations this week.

  • The Kardashian Empire is struggling to conquer private equity as news comes that Kim K’s SKKY Partners has only secured a small fraction of its $1-2 billion capital goals.

Thanks for reading,,


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