sports in the spotlight

FIFA Faces Skepticism Over World Cup Ethics Report

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 14, 2014 01:22 PM

FIFA generally likes to keep its focus on on-field competitions, but the latest controversy surrounding the soccer world's governing body has gone into injury time—and is likely to hurt a lot of people along the way.

On Thursday, soccer's governing body announced that, after an investigation led by former U.S. attorney Michael Gonzalez, it had found nothing ethically wrong with the bids for the next two World Cups, 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar, a particularly contentious host.

FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert (below) noted in a report on Gonzalez’s findings that, while not everything was handled perfectly in the bids, nothing that occurred could have impaired the vote for the Cups. That said, there are valid concerns that key information is missing about the Russian bid, since numerous computers involved had been destroyed and email accounts are no longer accessible, the AP notes.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

adidas Group Promotes Human Rights Standards for Factory Workers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 6, 2014 04:14 PM

The adidas Group is making strides in its goal of becoming a more responsive—and responsible—corporate citizen.

The German sportswear giant has released the results of a third party-conducted workplace ethics evaluation in a new report with a lengthy title: “Third Party Complaint Process for Breaches to the adidas Group Workplace Standards or Violations of International Human Rights Norms."

Outlining a series of first-of-its-kind processes for the company, the document opens with a bold statement: “The adidas Group is committed to operating as a sustainable business which is environmentally sound, respects human rights and ensures fair, safe and healthy working conditions across our global supply chain.” 

Though the company has had worker’s rights policies and complaint filing protocol in place for more than a decade, their grievance mechanisms haven't been successfully utilized, much to the detriment of the brand's cultural reputation. Now it's getting tougher on contact compliance, making contractors toe the line on treatment of workers and maintaining its corporate ethical standards.Continue reading...

sporting brands

FIFA is Feeling the Heat From Brand Partners Over Qatar World Cup

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 4, 2014 12:19 PM

Brands like to be where the eyeballs are, but FIFA—organizers of the planet's most-watched sporting event, the World Cup—has just lost a major sponsor and is in danger of losing other brand sponsors in the wake of mishandling of recent events and allegations of corruption within the bidding process for World Cup hosting, Business Insider reports.

Emirates, FIFA's official airline partner, has pulled its sponsorship through the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and Sony is considering the same, according to the Guardian. The loss of one and possible two FIFA partners hurts as there are only six sponsors in total at the FIFA Partner level, vs. sponsors specifically tied to the World Cup.Continue reading...

mobile brands

Amid Child Labor Claims, Samsung Diverts Attention Back to Battle with Apple

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 14, 2014 12:47 PM

The fight for mobile dominance isn't getting any easier, but Samsung isn't backing down from the competition or anything that could stand in its way of becoming the mobile platform of choice for hundreds of millions of cell phone users. 

Reuters reports that Samsung has parted ways with a supplier in China “over suspected use of child workers.” The company has been accused of not paying close enough attention to the supplier's operations, and so it has made its decision to cut ties very public.

"The Chinese authorities are also looking into the case," Samsung said in its statement, according to Reuters, noting that the split with the supplier will endure if it is shown that the child-labor accusations prove correct.

US-based China Labor Watch reported less than a week ago that the supplier had "at least five child workers" without contracts and they were being paid less than adults for the same work. Samsung says it has conducted three audits of the supplier since 2013.Continue reading...

brand targets

Brands Come Out in Force Against Discriminatory Arizona Legislation

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 25, 2014 07:20 PM

A growing firestorm fueled by social media is brewing around Arizona's proposed bill SB 1062, which would permit businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure activists and a growing list of corporations see as "state-sanctioned discrimination" against gays.

Companies from AT&T and Apple to Marriott, Delta and American Airlines, along with Arizona’s two Republican US Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are now taking a stand and asking Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill. The request from Apple comes as it prepares to open a new sapphire glass manufacturing plant in Mesa which would create about 700 full-time jobs and join its five stores already in Arizona.

Bill SB1062 is similar to measures proposed in Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi and Kansas in response to the growing gay marriage movement that 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized.

Reaction against the proposed bill is growing so strong that the measure passed last week is prompting tourists to cancel travel plans and has companies threatening to relocate.

“There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far,” Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, wrote to Brewer, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all,” he wrote.Continue reading...

olympic effort

Brands See ROI On Controversial Olympics Marketing After Sochi Comes to a Close

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 24, 2014 11:14 AM

As the most expensive Olympics ever came to a close this weekend, many brands breathed a sigh of relief after months of the threat of consumer backlash have finally come to an end. Russia's human rights issues proved to be a big challenge for major Olympic sponsors like Coca-Cola, McDonald's and more, who spent millions on the marketing opportunity.

While not all escaped unscathed, several brands have actually improved their consumer perception, such as Visa and Chobani, according to YouGov's BrandIndex.

Chobani, whose yogurt shipments for Olympic athletes were held at the Russian border due to a customs issue, seized the moment to donate 5,000 cups of its product to food banks in the US—and tweet a creative opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws. According to YouGov, Chobani increased purchase consideration and garnered more positive buzz than any other official Olympic sponsor.Continue reading...

Outside the US, Brands Are Quick to Challenge Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 5, 2014 03:12 PM

The ban on “gay propaganda” in Russia has inspired a few companies to lash back ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. AT&T is the first US Olympic team sponsor to publicly criticize Russia for its law. But other global brand have also joined in.

Scottish brewery BrewDog has debuted a new beer, "Hello, My Name is Vladimir," which it has ironically marketed with the hashtag #NotForGays. Joining in the fun is the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion, which has released a new commercial featuring two male lugers and the tagline: “The Games have always been a little gay.”

"The discrimination in Russia is unacceptable,” Michael Bach, founder and CEO of the CIDI, said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. “As an organization, we want to show our support, especially for the athletes competing at the Olympics in Sochi." CIDI is also encouraging people across the globe to change their Facebook profile photos to the suggestive symbol of two-man luge, which CIDI provides on its home page, during the course of the games to show their disagreement with Russia’s current laws.Continue reading...

olympic effort

On Eve of Sochi Olympics, AT&T Leads Brands Protesting Russia's LGBT Stance

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 4, 2014 07:17 PM

With the Super Bowl over, it's time for the US and the rest of the world to move on to the Winter Olympics, which are set to begin this Friday in Sochi, Russia. Amid the controversy over Russia's anti-gay laws, brands are doing their best to keep spirits high and tread carefully in what has become a very sensitive situation for sponsors, athletes and fans alike.

AT&T is the latest Team USA Olympic sponsor to debut its campaign, but it's doing so in a way that makes its views clear beyond cheering athletes. For the It's Our Time campaign (hashtag: #ItsOurTime) the telecom giant is rolling out an app, a website and video booths around the US to encourage fans to send "USA!" chants over to Sochi to show their support for their home team.

That's not the only messaging attached to the campaign. While it was Coca-Cola that recently took a stance by running the first ever Super Bowl ad featuring a gay couple, it's AT&T that's leading the way on the Olympic LGBT front by publicly speaking out in favor of equality and condemning homophobia, specifically Russia's ban on gay "propaganda."Continue reading...

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