Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 2, 2013 02:27 PM
In a world where an active NBA player has just come out, the Supreme Court is considering the merits of same-sex marriage, and the CEO of the world’s biggest coffee chain told a shareholder to take his money elsewhere if he couldn’t get behind the company’s support of gay rights, there are still plenty of brands that still avoid aligning with the LGBT community in any way.
United Airlines is not one of them. It has signed on as the official sponsor of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) global convention this weekend in Chicago. The two organizations have had a relationship for more than a decade.
"With more than 85,000 co-workers from around the world, United proudly celebrates the richness not just of our employees' diverse backgrounds, but our customers too,” said Dave Hilfman, United's senior vice president of worldwide sales, according to Chicago Business Journal. “As we say, 'diversity flies with us.'"Continue reading...
sports in the spotlight
Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 30, 2013 01:35 PM
Most Americans had never heard of Jason Collins before Monday. Even the large majority of NBA fans wouldn’t have immediately placed him, even though he’s played on six teams over the course of 12 seasons. Now he’s going down in the history books as the first active male athlete on a major US sports team to reveal he's gay.
After breaking the news on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the social web lit up with support for the Washington Wizards center, who said he first contemplated coming out during the 2011 lockout, and then was further motivated by the Boston Marathon bombings.
Thankfully, the sporting community and the world in general have changed a lot in recent years, as those that have come before Collins—like the NBA's John Amaechi and tennis legend's Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King—faced harsh criticism from peers and big financial losses from sponsors.
But as for Collins, his announcement will likely be followed up by a multitude of endorsement deals from top brands and maybe even a new contract for next season.Continue reading...
Posted by Kristen Van Nest on April 17, 2013 12:20 PM
Last year, Starbucks declared its support of same-sex marriage, which resulted in a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage. The coffee chain hasn't backed down one bit, however, as CEO Howard Schultz continues to blur the line between business and the personal lives of his millions of customers.
At a recent annual shareholders meeting, Tom Strobhar, a shareholder and founder of the Corporate Morality Action Center, an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage organization, suggested the boycott had a negative impact on first quarter sales and earnings. The ever-outspoken CEO swiftly responded, “Not every decision is an economic decision... The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity."
Schultz then told Strobhar he was more than welcome to sell his shares and take his money elsewhere. While the remarks seem brazen, Starbuck’s stance on hot-button political issues and support of equal rights for its employees have been a part of the brand’s long-term strategy to increase internal brand engagement and decrease turnover. What's more, taking a position on causes that affect its workforce has had a positive impact on its bottom line.Continue reading...
brands with a cause
Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 25, 2013 06:16 PM
Starbucks met with investors last Wednesday to filled them in on the farm its buying in Costa Rica—a company first—as well as the expansion of its three-year-old My Starbucks Rewards program, now allowing folks who buy SBUX products in grocery stores as well as in other Starbucks-owned brands such as Teavana to earn points that they can redeem over in Starbucks cafes. The hope is to double the loyalty program to nine million folks by the end of fiscal year 2013.
But the biggest moment of the meeting was likely when CEO Howard Schultz proved he was worthy of being made to look heroic in a comic book by responding forcefully to a shareholder that questioned the company’s support of Washington state’s same-sex referendum last year: “We want to embrace diversity,” he said. “The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity.” He went on to suggest that the shareholder was more than welcome to sell his shares and take his money elsewhere. “This is not an economic decision,” he said. And then was applauded by other shareholders.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Abe Sauer on March 21, 2013 11:37 AM
A sarcastic joke about diarrhea might be one of the first things one would think upon seeing the Twitter hashtag #thankschipotle.
But no, #thankschipotle was a reaction to the food chain's decision to drop sponsorship of a Utah Boy Scout event due to the organizations stand against gay equality. It seems Chipotle's newest offering is a jumbo sized social conscience, a menu item many are finding deliciously timely. The move also has some lessons for other brands as remaining neutral on gay rights increasingly becomes a non option.
It's true that Chipotle did not exactly come up with this cancelation on its own but instead was more or less shamed into action by progressive activists at Think Progress. On March 19, Think Progress called out Chipotle for violating its own nondiscrimination policy. A day later, Chipotle's desire to stomach a potential backlash led by activists diminished significantly. It announced that it would terminate its sponsorship. It emailed Think Progress, saying, in part, that the brand "believed that terminating the sponsorship and remaining consistent with our policy was the right thing to do."Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on March 11, 2013 08:45 AM
Adidas aims to outrun Nike with bouncier shoes (Boost), Google ad test and increased soccer focus as Confederation Cup and FIFA World Cup loom, while Nike feels the heat in China.
Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful wins weekend box office, marking a comeback for Disney's studio arm.
Old Spice introduces wolfish marketing director to boost men's animal magnetism.
America's Brand USA global marketing arm expands reach with $200M boost and German campaign.
Apple CEO Tim Cook may testify in e-book antitrust suit.
Beam looks past corruption scandal with new brand strategy in India.
Bumblebee and Chicken of the Sea expand U.S. tuna recall.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 27, 2013 04:26 PM
The U.S. federal government still defines the act of marriage as one taking place between a man and a woman even though a number of states have made gay marriage legal and President Obama made it clear in his Inauguration speech (and other speeches since) that gay marriage is something he firmly believes in. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said after being sworn in on Jan. 21 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Roberts will have a lot to do with possibly making a change to the way the federal government defines marriage when his Court hears two gay-marriage-related cases on March 26 and 27. Nearly 300 companies came out Wednesday to “urge the U.S. Supreme Court … to strike down a federal law that restricts the definition of marriage to heterosexual unions,” Reuters reports.
Considering the size and number of brands taking part, it will be hard for conservatives who have long opposed gay marriage to try and boycott everyone involved.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 21, 2013 02:50 PM
It has been nearly 16 years since the episode of “Ellen” that found its main character, as played by Ellen DeGeneres, come out of the closet and tell the world that she was gay, followed up by the historic "Yep, I'm Gay" cover of TIME.
That, of course, was a watershed moment and plenty has happened since. States have legalized gay marriage. Gay characters that don’t fall into ancient stereotypes actually populate mainstream films and television shows. Those in the 18- to 44-year-old demographic are mostly all for gay marriage, leading many to assert that, with time, it will be fully integrated into American culture.
That same demographic is the target of most marketers, which has led to a rapid growth in gay-themed ads. Anti-gay sentiment clearly isn’t dead, though, and marketers take the risk of getting one faction of its fans upset when it goes that route, a fact Kraft’s Oreo brand found out last summer when it put a rainbow-themed Oreo on its Facebook page and then discovered a massive fight occurring in its comments section.
Amazon has now stepped in to show that it’s happy to have its products, specifically Kindles, used by gays or straights. In a new ad campaign that broke this week, a shirtless man and bikini-wearing woman sit next to each other at a resort looking at their e-readers. While he squints at what looks like an iPad in the sunlight, she can see her Kindle Paperwhite just fine. He decides to purchase a Kindle from his device and after, suggests that they should celebrate. She says that her husband is bringing her a drink right now. His response? “So is mine.” Touché.Continue reading...