sports in the spotlight

NBA's Jason Collins Won't Be the Only Brand to Benefit from His Coming Out

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...

truth in advertising

NRA Tries to Burnish Mayors' Brand by Questioning Ad's Authenticity

Posted by Abe Sauer on April 17, 2013 01:07 PM

"Acting!" That's the NRA's much anticipated response to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" ad featuring a gun owner who admits to supporting comprehensive background checks for gun purchases.

The NRA claims that because the organization will not give out the name of the ad's star, he must be an actor. Also, because he's mishandling the gun in the ad—something no real pro-gun owner would ever, ever do—he must be a plant. Now one blog is offering a bounty on the actor's identity to prove the NRA correct.

It's the latest turn in the increasingly petty back and forth between gun rights and gun control advocates.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Starbucks Former President: Why Same-Sex Marriage Support Matters

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...

green shoots

New York Auto Show: Car Brands Race to Feed into Evolving Green Market

Posted by Dale Buss on March 28, 2013 05:29 PM

The stagnation of the U.S. market for all-electric vehicles has automakers thinking more creatively about how to address American consumers' desire for maximum fuel economy without attempting fruitlessly to guilt them into buying EVs.

The evidence of this trend has been abundant this week during the media previews at the New York International Auto Show, and news that the Obama administration is planning to get tougher on car emission standards, with "sweeping rules" expected from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring cleaner gasoline and cars.

"I think green has gone mainstream" as automakers employ fuel-efficient technologies across their lineups, not just in electrified vehicles, Consumer Reports director of auto testing Jake Fisher told WWJ-TV in Detroit. "It doesn't matter what you get, you can get green in your car, whether or not it's a sports car or an SUV."

That's why, for example, Dodge is able to claim that the new 8-speed transmission in its 2014 Durango SUV qualifies as a "green" advance: It helps boost fuel economy of the nameplate by close to 10 percent, Reid Bigland, Dodge brand CEO, told the TV station.Continue reading...

media and politics

Bloomberg, NRA Face Off in Gun Debate

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 26, 2013 02:21 PM

In the aftermath of the massacre of 20 young schoolchildren and six school staffers last December in Connecticut, the word was that this shooting spree was somehow going to be different from all the rest—different from Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo., and Columbine and Luby’s Cafeteria back in ’91 and, well, all the rest that keep on happening far too regularly. This time, America was going to look at itself in the mirror and change.

So far, though, the Sandy Hook shootings haven’t caused much change. The “national conversation” has dragged on and senators will finally introduce new gun legislation soon. This will be the “first time in years” Congress takes a look at “significant gun control legislation,” NBC reports. But the inaction and relative toothlessness of the legislation has kicked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg into gear.Continue reading...

media and politics

Facebook's Zuckerberg Dumps Millions into Political SuperPAC

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 26, 2013 01:32 PM

What does a 28-year-old billionaire with the world’s largest social networking website do next to influence the world?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is taking a lead role in a Silicon Valley SuperPAC organized by his former college roommate, Joe Green. Reportedly, the group will focus on education and immigration reform, two pressing issues in Zuckerberg’s own backyard in order to maintain a steady stream of talent. 

First reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Zuckerberg has committed as much as $20 million to the effort which will most likely be nonprofit.Continue reading...

long arm of the law

Losing Big Soda Battle, Bloomberg Turns To Tobacco Ban

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 19, 2013 12:29 PM

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg steps down from his current job on January 1 of next year, he might want to go find employment with a vice squad. Bloomberg was dealt a recent blow when his move to stop New Yorkers from purchasing oversized sodas was struck down by the court, but never one to give up, he's now got his eyes on controlling cigarette sales in the Big Apple.

The mayor on Monday introduced proposed legislation that would require New York cigarette sellers to hide cigarette packs from consumers so the brands aren’t given any free advertising and consumers don’t break down at the point of purchase and pick up a few smokes. The mandate is similar to one recently proposed in Singapore, to the dismay of Big Tobacco.Continue reading...

sip on this

New York's Big Soda Ban Overturned; Bloomberg Vows to Appeal

Posted by Shirley Brady on March 11, 2013 09:22 PM

It was doomed to fail, writes the Guardian. Even New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg acknowledged, "When we began this process, we knew we’d face lawsuits." He added, "When you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interest will sue. That's America."

So the overturning by New York State judge Milton Tingling of Bloomberg's proposed ban on sugary beverages above 16 ounces, which was due to go into effect on Tuesday before being dismissed as "arbitrary" and "capricious" by Tingling, didn't come as a complete surprise.Continue reading...

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