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brands under fire

Dirty Money: NFL's Image Problem Likely to Affect its Charitable Efforts

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 19, 2014 05:37 PM

Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off in October and it appears that at least one brand will be using it to punish the NFL for its role in an ongoing player misconduct controversy. 

P&G’s Crest brand has pulled out of A Crucial Catch, the league's breast cancer awareness initiative with the American Cancer Society, CBS Sports reports, in the wake of the domestic violence accusations and criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The brand planned to have one player on each team acting as an ambassador and wearing a pink mouthguard while also engaging with fans on social media. While Crest's involvement with the campaign is no more, P&G says it still intends to donate the funds to cancer research on its own.

The decision came after the league was widely criticized for its handling of the suspension of Ray Rice for domestic violence, an incident that had a snowball effect on players and teams throughout the league. Radisson Hotels has suspended its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after Adrian Peterson was arrested for reckless child injury. This all happened, the Sacramento Bee notes, the same week the league released a report that “shows one of four players will develop neurological disease during his career.”Continue reading...

brands under fire

Logo Banh: Taco Bell Parent Red-Faced as Red Star Offends Vietnamese

Posted by Dale Buss on September 19, 2014 05:10 PM

Maybe brand marketers need to hire more boomers, or at least younger people who've read a few history books.

That could be one of the lessons from one of the biggest branding idiocies of the year. Yum! Brands is changing the logo of its new Banh Shop Vietnamese fast-food restaurants after its red star logo offended members of the Vietnamese community in its Dallas test market, and beyond.

Many people of Vietnamese descent in America either escaped Vietnam to flee communism in the first place or are the offspring of that generation, which remembers the red star as being a symbol of communism back in the days of the Cold War, not as being a signifier of hipster kitsch, as some young people may take it today.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Pressure Builds on NFL, Goodell, Brands as Player Misconduct Crisis Plays Out

Posted by Dale Buss on September 18, 2014 06:22 PM

As Bloomberg Businessweek put it in a headline this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is "at the 50-50 yard line." In other words, the crisis over domestic violence and other misconduct by professional football players, how he is handling it—and, also importantly, how NFL sponsors are handling it—still could break either way.

The pressure on Goodell and the team owners who employ him is ratcheting up every day as the saga takes one more unwelcome turn after another. No sooner had the Minnesota Vikings reversed course yesterday and suspended Adrian Peterson just after welcoming him back into the fold, another ugly instance involving an NFL player surfaced. Arizona Cardinals running back John Dwyer now faces domestic-violence allegations, bringing the list of players facing assualt accusations to six. 

Meanwhile, major NFL marketing and TV-advertising sponsors shifted rather uneasily in their seats. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi spoke out in support of Goodell and his efforts, for instance, even though she said she's "deeply disturbed" by some player behavior, and the league's mishandling of the case is "casting a cloud" over the NFL's integrity, the Wall Street Journal reported.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Nestle Scorched for Tapping California Water, but It Won't Be the Last Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on September 17, 2014 11:47 AM

Nestle Waters is involved in one of the first major brand disputes relating to the devastating drought in California. But it's likely not to be the last tangle over how brands and products use water in the parched Golden State as California increasingly goes drip-dry and state residents have been urged to cut their water usage by 20 percent.

In the case of Nestle's bottled-water brand, a conservation group is petitioning to stop Nestle from tapping its site in Cabazon, which bottles water from a nearby spring in Millard Canyon under the Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water brand. The League of Conservation Voters wants Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke to stop "taking water from the state, bottling it, exporting it out of the state and profiting." Another group, Global Call for Climate Action, has criticized Nestle Water because its plant sits on a Native American reservation where it's immune from state regulation.

To this, Nestle Waters has replied basically: We're one of the most responsible industrial users of water in the state. Go pick on other businesses, ranging from soft-drink plants to agricultural growers, that are much more intensive users. Nestle Waters previously came under fire in Canada for its water collection practices. Continue reading...

brands under fire

Urban Outfitters Ignites Social Rage (Again) with Blood-Stained Sweatshirt

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 16, 2014 01:43 PM

Urban Outfitters may have found its moral outrage tipping point (again). 

The controversial Millennial retailer of vintagey hipster everything caught some serious flack this week for selling a one-of-a-kind "Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt" that looked to be treated with spattered blood.

The fashionably faded, "slouchy fit" sweatshirt was posted online with a sinister call-out, "Get it or regret it!" that added to the rage of consumers that pointed out the $129 sweatshirt's unfortunate relation to the 1970 Kent State massacre in which National Guard members gunned down four college students at a Richard Nixon protest.  

After the sweatshirt quickly sold out and the design spread around the internet (and even was put up for sale on eBay), the retailer tweeted the following apology:

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Nike and Other Brands Cut Ties with Ray Rice as NFL Goes on Defensive

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 10, 2014 11:46 AM

The start of the NFL season should be a celebratory time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but this year is a bit different thanks to TMZ’s timely release of a tape of former Baltimore Raven's running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée inside an elevator in a (now shuttered) Atlantic City casino.

The Ravens released Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely (after first only serving him a two-game suspension), but the outcry is loud over how poorly Goodell and the league handled the serious situation. In light of the most recent revelations, Rice's many endoresement deals are disappearing—including the biggest of them all, Nike. 

While Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer, expressed her support for her husband and outrage over the amount of publicity her private life has received, not too many others are offering up support for the 27-year-old.

Fans, in particular, were outraged by his actions and retailers including Modell’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and NFL.com immediately removed Rice’s jersey from shelves, while the Ravens announced that they will allow fans to exchange Rice jerseys later this month, as brands move to quickly distance themselves from the debacle.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Sea of Hurt: SeaWorld Stock Plunges as Blackfish, Activism Takes Its Toll UPDATE

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 14, 2014 04:27 PM

It's been a rough year for SeaWorld, the ocean-themed amusement park/zoo known for its sea animal performaces, especially its orcas.

But the very star of the park's programming is also responsible for its decline, as activists and consumers become increasingly outspoken about animal rights following the release of the documentary "Blackfish," which told the story of Tilikum, a giant SeaWorld orca that killed a trainer in 2010, the most recent of 3 deadly incidents with the same whale. 

Now, a year after the film aired on CNN to 21 million viewers, the effect is impossible to deny: SeaWorld's second-quarter revenue came in a $405 million, far below the expected $445 million, causing the brand's stock to plunge 33 percent and S&P to cut the company's credit rating

“Until today’s report we were willing to . . . take SeaWorld’s word that there was no discernible impact,” Tim Nollen, of investment firm Macquarie, told The Guardian. “This report was notably worse than previous reports.”

Company executives acknowledged that the decline was in part because of negative media attention and proposed legislation in California that calls for a federal study on the impact of captivity on large marine animals.Continue reading...

brands under fire

LEGO Protests Go Global as Greenpeace Targets Shell Partnership

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 29, 2014 02:19 PM

As part of an ongoing effort by Greenpeace, more than 50 children protested today outside Shell’s London headquarters, building three massive LEGO Arctic animals while Greenpeace volunteers and parents looked on. The peaceful protest, which has spread to the US, is in response to LEGO's partnership with Shell on branded block sets that have been sold at gas stations in 33 countries—one of the largest promotional lines that LEGO has ever produced.

Since 2012, Shell's Arctic program has been under fire by environmental NGOs and regulators as its two drilling vessels, Noble Discoverer and Kulluk, both failed to meet pollution limits set by the US Clean Air Act. Nearly 700,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition calling on the toy maker to end its deal with the oil brand. 

“Children are leading this playful protest because global warming, and what’s happening in the Arctic, is an enormous threat facing all children,” said Elena Polisano, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace, in a press release. “LEGO is adored by kids, and it has a responsibility to look out for them. It’s unethical for LEGO to partner with any company that’s threatening kids’ future. LEGO’s endorsement of Shell is incredibly damaging because it helps Shell hide its role in the threat to the Arctic.”Continue reading...

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