brands under fire

Coke Execs Weigh Input on Gay Rights at Olympics

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 24, 2013 03:49 PM

Brands continue to come under fire from consumers ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where seemingly anti-gay laws have been passed creating a hostile environment for the LGBT community. The clash has led to boycotts and outright calls to major brand sponsors like McDonald's and Visa to drop support for the games or affirm their stance in support of the LGBT community. 

After millions have voiced their concerns for the event, it seems that they may have finally caught the attention of a major participant. Following a petition that currently has over 344,000 signatures, Coca-Cola executives are reportedly convening today to decide whether the company, a major sponsor of the Olympics, will comment on the culture clash.

“Coca-Cola is an incredibly important position of power and has the ability to influence both the International Olympic Committee and Russian leaders,” Joe Mirabella, director of communications for equality campaign platform All Out said, BeverageDaily reports. “The safety and dignity of Russians, athletes, and fans is in doubt as long as Russia’s anti-gay laws are intact. Olympic sponsors have a moral obligation to speak out now and demand an end to Putin’s human rights crackdown.”Continue reading...

brands under fire

NFL Runs Into 'Pinkwashing' Debacle as Fundraising Efforts are Questioned

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 17, 2013 12:52 PM

The NFL gets pretty deep into the pink during its October Breast Cancer Awareness initiative: players, refs, cheerleaders and sideline staff wear pink accessories and equipment and fans purchase head-to-toe pink gear to help raise money for breast cancer research. 

Or so they say. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, the American Cancer Society only receives $11.25 for every $100 spent on pinked-out attire and accessories. The NFL gets $1.25 of that loot and the rest goes to the company that actually makes the merchandise ($37.50) and who sells it ($50)—which is usually the NFL or a specific team. As for the money that actually goes to the American Cancer Society, $8.01 goes to research and the rest goes to administrative costs, BusinessInsider reports.

One way or another, the money from merchandise is finding its way back into the NFL's pockets instead of going towards the fund.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Brands' Firewalls Fail as Another Deadly Blaze Kills Bangladesh Garment Workers

Posted by Dale Buss on October 10, 2013 05:37 PM

The scourge of deadly fires and building accidents in Bangladesh garment factories continued this week despite the flurry of attention to the problem over the last year by western and European apparel retailers.

Leading retail brands including H&M, Carrefour, Hudson's Bay, Gap, Walmart and Joe Fresh have admitted possible links to an Aswad Composite Mills factory in Sripur where a fire broke out overnight and killed at least 10 people, after most of its 3,000 employees had gone home. There were reports that the factory had some modern firefighting equipment, but to no avail. 

Workers said the blaze appeared to have been started by a malfunctioning knitting machine, according to Al Jazeera, while the country's top inspector said safety problems had been raised last month. The story is one all-too-familiar for Bangladesh's garment industry—a $20 billion trade— which saw over 1,100 people die in the Rana Plaza collapse in April after cracks were reported in the building by engineers, but their warnings were ultimately ignored by factory owners.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Following Exposé, Tylenol Works Quickly to Restore Brand

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 10, 2013 12:55 PM

It's been three weeks since investigative journalists at ProPublica published a long profile of the severe potential danger in overusing the pain reliever acetaminophen. The report's most damaging allegations were not that 150 people a year die from acetaminophen but that safety agencies and manufacturers—especially household acetaminophen brand Tylenol—knew how dangerous the drug was and did little to warm users.

ProPublica's several stories, which make claims like, "[Tylenol maker] McNeil opposed even a modest government campaign to educate the public about acetaminophen’s risks, in part because it would harm Tylenol sales," are pretty damning for the brand, but the government agencies that oversee such operations don't make it out unscathed either. "Over more than 30 years, the FDA has delayed or failed to adopt measures designed to reduce deaths and injuries from acetaminophen. The agency began a comprehensive review to set safety rules for acetaminophen in the 1970s, but still has not finished," another report says.Continue reading...

brands under fire

NBC Pulls Further Away from Gun Relations Following Hunting Show Fallout

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 8, 2013 01:52 PM

NBC Sports has found itself on the wrong end of a heavy load of negative criticism since Sept. 22 when the host of its NRA-sponsored Under Wild Skies program, Tony Makris, shot and killed an elephant on the program. It didn’t help, Variety notes, that Makris, an NRA strategist, “compared his critics to Hitler.”

The show was eventually cancelled and now NBC Sports has announced that it won’t be sponsoring a Las Vegas hunting and outdoor trade show in January—an event that bills itself as the world’s largest gun-related trade show—in a move that the network claims is unrelated to September’s incident.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Barilla Chairman Finds Himself in Hot Water After Dissing Gay Consumers

Posted by Dale Buss on September 27, 2013 02:36 PM

In the hyperconnected, globalized world of social media marketing and complete corporate transparency (whether leaders want it or not), it was only a matter of hours before the inevitable occurred: George Takei bashed Barilla chairman Guido Barilla on Twitter: "I hear Barilla pasta is making a new product—bigotoni."

That tweet, of course, was a response by the gay former Star Trek star to news that the head of the world's largest pasta brand told an Italian radio station this week that he would never use homosexual families in company advertisements, a comment that has sparked an outcry and calls to boycott the brand.

"I would never do" an ad campaign featuring a gay couple or family, Guido Barillo stated in the interview, according to "If they like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don't like it then they will not eat it, and they will eat another brand. For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Automation and the Outrage Economy: How Hands-Off Operations Hurts Everyone

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 23, 2013 12:12 PM

The connection between two seemingly unconnected incidents is not that both happened in Canada but that both represent opposite ends of the growing pains of automation and artificial intelligence built on contextual data mining.

But even more so, both represent instances where the outrage economy cranked up its motor to make sure it shaved off some profit while ultimately leaving everyone no better off. 

The first of two incidents occured on Facebook, where a photo of late Canadian teen Rehtaeh Parsons showed up on a dating site ad. Parsons commited suicide in April after reportedly suffering a gang rape and vicious bullying in 2011—a case that has received international attention after the claims were turned down by the court. A seperate incident which also occured in Canada involved a girl unscrewing a bottle of VitaminWater to find the phrase "You Retard" printed inside the cap. The phrase was part of an English-French marketing promotion from the Coca-Cola company, with the word "retard" in French meaning "lateness." In both instances, the companies claimed ignorance, with Facebook calling the incident an "extremely unfortunate example" while Coke "did not mean to offend at all."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Microsoft Stumbles Again, Apologizing for Aimless Apple Parody Videos

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 17, 2013 07:07 PM

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft has more problems than just selling the products and software it makes. After posting—and pulling—seven amateur ads knocking Apple's design process, the company has drawn more negative attention to itself than its intended target. 

Following the debut of Apple's latest iPhones last week, the company posted a series of short videos dubbed, "A fly on the wall in Cupertino," which featured several bumbling actors posing as Apple designers pitching the gold iPhone 5S and the plastic 5C to two people, arguably Tim Cook and Apple design chief Jony Ive. "You asked us to create the gold standard in iPhones," one actor says, "And it turns out... that is super hard."

The videos were quickly criticized for bad acting, low-budget production values, and worst of all, not being funny. Following the backlash, Microsoft pulled the videos, and a spokesperson told CNET that they were "intended to be a lighthearted poke at our friends from Cupertino," but "it was off the mark, and we've decided to pull it down."Continue reading...

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