brands under fire

Why Wood Wood Urban Outfitters Continue to Carry Offensive Label?

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 10, 2015 07:04 PM

Add one more item to the list of offenses—intended or otherwise—by Urban Outfitters. The Anti-Defamation League, an anti-Semitism activist group, is asking the apparel retailer to immediately stop selling a shirt whose it claims is “eerily reminiscent” of "Holocaust garb."

The shirt features a pink triangle against gray and white stripes. The ADL says this combination too closely resembles the gray-and-white striped shirts with pink triangles that "gay male prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Twitter's Trolling Problem Snares Coca-Cola's #MakeItHappy Super Bowl Campaign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 6, 2015 10:01 AM

Twitter has a lot of issues to deal with these days. Despite its 97 percent rise in revenue to $479 million in its fiscal fourth quarter over a year earlier, analysts were unhappy with the company’s slow user growth, and that revenue wasn’t actually enough to turn a profit. That didn’t stop investors, though. According to USA Today, shares went up 11 percent after hours on Thursday.

Beyond its earning and user concerns, Twitter also has to contend with a major issue affecting its brand interity and future: how much haters (aka "trolls" in social media parlance) seem to like using the site, an issue that is affecting individual users and brand partners alike.

Case in point: This week saw Coca-Cola's post-Super Bowl #MakeItHappy campaign ambushed by a hate-mongering Twitter account that turned out to be a fake account set up for the purpose of testing the brand. Continue reading...

brands under fire

Uber Swaps Brass Knuckles for Soft Handshakes in Local Lobbying

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 2, 2015 01:02 PM

Ride-hailing service Uber isn’t exactly known for using the word “diplomacy” very much. In fact, since its launch in 2009, it has been basically shoving its way into new markets, local regulations be damned.

That has worked to a certain extent so far—if you don’t mind a whole lot of legal action and bad press. But someone has apparently whispered in the ear of Uber founder Travis Kalanick, and he’s been singing a different tune recently.

The New York Times, taking note of Kalanick's keynote speech at the Digital Life Design (DLD 2015) conference in Germany last month, sees a softer, gentler Uber emerging—at least in the public sphere—as it aims to get smarter about how it expands its brand locally.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Gotcha Milk: MilkPEP #GetReal Milk Truth Fights Whitewashing Claims

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 28, 2015 02:03 PM

Milk Truth

A glass of milk once sat on a sainted list for all Americans that included such things as baseball and Budweiser. The former, of course, became tainted with the performance-enhancing-drug era while the latter now boasts corporate headquarters in Belgium.

Milk is facing its own hurdles and the dairy industry is doing all it can to fight back. Last year MilkPEP (aka the US dairy industry's Milk Processor Education Program) ended its longstanding "Got Milk?" campaign—known for its celeb-heavy milk mustaches—in a bid to address a deeper existential crisis.

Last year was also when the British Medical Journal published findings that challenged milk's health claims with research indicating that “drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths and higher incidents of fractures,” the Associated Press reports. While the British researchers “urged a cautious interpretation” of the study, that didn’t stop a slew of news organizations and anti-dairy bloggers brabbing onto the idea that “Milk Can Kill You!”

Now the dairy industry is fighting back in the most modern way it can—social media—with a campaign that was quickly ambushed by the forces it's trying to fight.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Uber Woes Pile Up World-Wide; Cause Marketing to the Rescue?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 10, 2014 12:34 PM

Lately, it seems that wherever Uber operates, it brings trouble—and lots of it.

Adding to its mounting PR crisis: allegations of an Uber driver sexually assaulting a woman in India, Uber getting banned in Spain, Thailand suddenly not allowing residents to use taxi services whose drivers use their own personal vehicles; Portland, OR filing a lawsuit against the app, and a laundry list of other incidents have been giving the brand one public-relations black eye after another in a very short amount of time.

No wonder the Wall Street Journal's headline today reads "Uber Under Attack Around the Globe."

Even with all the bad press, however, the brand is spending a lot of time and money to salvage its reputation.Continue reading...

brands under fire

30 Years On, Bhopal Disaster Weighs on Victims—and Dow Chemical's Reputation

Posted by Dale Buss on December 3, 2014 05:05 PM

Before BP and the Exxon Valdez, the Bhopal pesticide plant leak in India—which happened 30 years ago this week—remains the world's worst industrial disaster.

Is the toxic legacy of the Bhopal gas explosion disaster at a Union Carbide plant in India any responsibility of U.S.-based Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide? Or is it fully on the shoulders of the Indian government that settled with Union Carbide 25 years ago?

Or is it a brand-building and corporate citizenship opportunity for today's Dow management team to alleviate the continued suffering of many among the population of Bhopal's some half-million Indian victims? So many questions, and so much angst, as the company faces protests this week by Bhopal survivors still fighting for compensation.

The gas leak from the pesticide plant killed about 2,500 people almost instantly when the pesticide factory began to seep toxins and the explosion occurred. But that was just the beginning of its repercussions—and some major issues remain unresolved.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Can Uber Reverse the Damage Before Driving its Brand Into a Ditch?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 19, 2014 02:09 PM

Uber can take pride that it pretty much created the global ride-sharing industry that didn’t exist when it launched only four years ago. Yet the company, valued at anywhere from $17 billion to $25 billion depending who you talk to, has made so many PR missteps that it shouldn’t feel too good about itself. 

Growing faster than its staff can keep up with has generated, it seems, a culture of arrogance—and a ton of bad news.

Among the flood of negative press, TIME and The Daily Beast have recounted the litany of PR disasters, including a driver that ran over and kill a six-year-old, accusations of sexual assault levied against its drivers, wage protests by its own drivers, claims of causing mayhem for rival Lyft by booking and canceling rides, and a driver who (reportedly) verbally attacked a cancer patient who canceled a ride a minute after scheduling it.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Detergent Pods Defended as Report Highlights Need to Protect Children

Posted by Dale Buss on November 10, 2014 04:44 PM

A new report in respected U.S. medical journal Pediatrics has underscored the continuing danger to children from Tide Pods and other competing concentrated detergent packets, and calls for manufacturers to do more to protect kids from ingesting the products, according to USA Today.

But there are at least two reasons why the industry might be a bit skeptical about the latest anti-Pods broadside. First, the new study doesn't cover statistics in child poisoning this year but from 2012-13, which is an important bit of timeline information, considering that P&G and other manufacturers changed their packaging and took other important steps in late 2013 that apparently reduced the problem.

The other issue, of course, is—who's watching the children? Child-proofing the house is a time-honored discipline of parenting, but most people who responded to a recent industry survey on this issue admitted that they kept their unit-dose laundry packets "well within arm's reach of children," the Wall Street Journal reports.Continue reading...

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