Lessons for Businesses on the Confederate Flag

flag1

Amongst the growing debates over the removal of the Confederate flag it seems the real watershed moments happened  with a Tweet from Mitt Romney.

 

He trended for hours with the support of the Twitter-Verse after his tweet stating why the flag should be removed. Social media is once again being used as a tool to denounce a brand. In this case a flag from the past.

Following South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley, decision to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol, many big businesses decided to pull Confederate items from their shelves. Within one day Sears, Walmart, Ebay, Etsy, and Google made this defining change. Following, sales increased 5,000 percent on items with the Confederate flag on Amazon, but not long after they to removed these items as well.

In an interview with CNN Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, stated “The business community — they have a lot of say and power all over the country, whether it’s on religion or ethnicity or LGBT issues… When you’re running a business, you must have the doors open and welcome diversity.” The business community has spoken, despite the possible gain; they don’t want to be associated by something like the Confederate flag.

While discussing the Confederate Flag in 1863 at the Rebel congress in Richmond William Tappan Thompson, a newspaper editor who has often been quoted for the flag’s purpose, stated:

As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.

Even if many see this flag as a part of history it is clear that to others it’s more than history, and many are coming around to see what is so offensive. Some are calling upon the flag as representing treason, while others are standing firm it is a matter of preserving the past.

Whether you own a business/brand big or small attention to the overall conversation must be made. This flag has been a reminder to many:

  • Core values of a brand are always under question;
  • Social media is an immediate sounding board to public opinion whether you like what is said or not;
  • Celebrating a past must be handled with care. People are looking ahead and many would prefer to deny any large issues exist today which are from the past.

What do you think about the recent conversation about the confederate flag and businesses? As a business owner would you consider displaying historical items which are offensive to many?

 

*******************
Above Promotions is a digital marketing and public relations agency with B2C clients that promote brands in the food, fashion and family entertainment industries. We build and protect brands by creating and executing digital resources to sell products or build positive public sentiment. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

********************
Althea Tyrell is a communications assistant with Above Promotions Company. She is a student with the University of South Florida.

 

 

 

Sesame Street and Elmo Live On?

Elmo and Kevin Clash. Photo Courtesy of Bryan Bedder and Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL
Elmo and Kevin Clash. Photo Courtesy of Bryan Bedder and Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL
Elmo and Kevin Clash. Photo Courtesy of Bryan Bedder and Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL

To the surprise of many who support and adore the Elmo character, Kevin Clash, the long time voice of the famous puppet, and his off-screen life placed some uncertainty over its fate. As of today, a third man, has come forward indicating he too had an inappropriate relationship with Clash when he was a teen. This accuser has also indicated he has a book that will be released soon that will discuss this period of time spent with Clash.

All of this reminds me of when Paul Reubens, aka Pee-Wee Herman, was arrested and CBS dropped his children’s show, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Paul’s career never rebounded from his child pornography scandal. In fact, one could say Reubens’ transgressions made it possible for people to take Clash’s with little surprise. Guilty or not, Clash will more than likely not re-enter the children’s entertainment scene. This incident has casted too big of a cloud over him that will more than likely prevent his career from flourishing again. The public seems to forgive and forget drunk driving, abuse and adultery, but sexual acts against a minor is etched in stone.

Sesame Street who originally stood by Clash even after the quick settlement with the first accuser, has managed to distance themselves from the man who brought in a considerable amount of money to the brand. With the resignation of Clash, Sesame Street has continued to move forward with operations not discussing who will be the new long-term voice of Elmo in the show.

Sesame Street has become quite the popular show this year thanks to former Presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney. His comment during the first debate to cut funding to PBS sent fans of the network in a flurry. In fact, Governor Romney probably refueled the passion for the beloved children’s show, in particularly Big Bird. Now the question arrives, how will Clash’s scandals affect the Sesame Street or Elmo brand?

Many believe Sesame Street, especially with its prompt movement to address and accept Kevin’s resignation, will remain unscaved. Let’s face it. The show has been around for decades and has maintained a wholesome image through the years. Sort of reminds you of what Walt Disney and his legacy did for his characters and theme parks. Although both have faced concerning chatter regarding employees, both are considered iconic across generations and will probably remain that way.

So if Sesame Street is left standing with hardly a blemish, what about Elmo?

Hasbro probably has just as much if not more to lose if Elmo doesn’t rise from the scandals. Hasbro is the sole toy maker for Sesame Street. The Tickle Me Elmo doll and other Elmo items alone has accounted for half of sales for the Sesame Street toys. On top of Elmo carrying such a large weight of sales, his interest has seen a decline over the past few years. However, this Christmas season Hasbro released the LOL Elmo toy. So will Elmo be hurt by the scandal?

According to Gerrick Johnson, a toy analyst, the LOL Elmo toy has been flying off the shelves since Black Friday. Looks like Elmo will live on!

One would never want to be entangled with any scandal, but Sesame Street seems to have shown the world what to do if you are attached to one.

  • Move quick to provide concise statements to the public.
  • Keep it moving.

It will be interesting to see how Sesame Street and PBS handles their renewed popularity.

What do you think? Will you still support Sesame Street? Elmo? Have you already forgotten about Kevin Clash?

Comment below. Your reply may be used for an upcoming article.

*****************

Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

********************

Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstore

Papa John’s: It’s Time to Slice Humble Pie

John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John's, makes news over Affordable Healthcare for employees. Photo Courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2012.
John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s, makes news over Affordable Healthcare for employees. Photo Courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2012.

John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s, first came under attack after his address to shareholders in August. What wasn’t meant to be a public declaration of being against the Affordable Healthcare Act as introduced under the administration of President Barack Obama, turned into a discussion gaining a lot of confusion and animosity towards the pizza chain.

John proclaimed in August that, “We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare.” The Politico article containing words from the call went on to include the company would use tactics to protect its shareholders. In the same call John went on to say, “Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis.”

Now for the general public who sees that Schnatter was a huge donor and supporter of the Republican Presidential Candidate, Governor Mitt Romney, they can equate the use of his term of Obamacare and his personal support to mean an attack on policies and lack of consideration to employees. However, I do not believe this is where John went wrong. Stick with me, I’ll show you where his words started to bite him.

  • After the shareholders meeting, Papa John’s announced its NFL promotion to giveaway 2 million pizzas.
  • Schnatter says that franchises will more than likely reduce employee hours. This news reignited the public spurring a boycott of Papa John’s.

I do not believe that it is the concern of people who support the healthcare act or not, that is really driving the criticism, it’s the simple math of it all. The mixed statements coming from John has caused this backlash. Here’s why.

The public sees an increase in rates, free pizzas being given away and a reduction in employee hours. Period. John has not clearly addressed the fact that instead of raising rates, the employee hours will be reduced. Although, as seen, it was not swallowed as easily. But making a statement to amend a previous one would have placed some indication that there is an “either or” or not both in this situation. But instead of clarifying the company’s position, he left individuals to ask the question, “why raise the rates and give away pizzas if you still intend to not provide healthcare to your employees and reduce their income?”

Now that probably isn’t the message John was intending on sending, but due to the inconsistency or not providing clarity in their business’ possible solutions, he created an uproar to those who like to do arithmetic, such as Caleb Melby of Forbes Magazine. You see, Caleb decided to break down the proposed revenue of the increase and even the promotional giveaway. Like many others, this giveaway was really putting a wrench in to the thought of customers seeing employees lose income instead of Papa John’s incorporating the insurance. Even in the August call, John indicated that his company is structured to handle such a change. So if this is a manageable change to the business model, why continue to speak about the regulation in a new public appearance? Now this just comes off to the public as a man upset with the outcome of the election.

What really draws my interest as a media professional to his original statement to the shareholders, is that if he had used words to not draw an emotional response to government policy, increasing the price of the pizza would have been forgotten after it was implemented. Instead his words then have tangled with his words now. Truth be told, the cost of food increases every year. In fact, food increases are felt by consumers often throughout the year. The increase would have been assumed by many as the cost of inflation not disdain for providing healthcare to employees. Had emotions over politics never entered the original statement, the majority of the public may have never been the wiser. Just think about it, if Frito-Lay decides to make a huge spend within their company, does the typical American know the reason behind it?

I wanted to give Schnatter some credit from his recent statement. He said he isn’t in support or against the Affordable Care Act. But as mentioned above in his words at the stakeholder’s meeting, that isn’t the truth. It makes it hard for the public to believe, “the good news is 100 percent of the population is going to have health insurance” when a couple of months ago you stated you were not in support of Obamacare. Unfortunately, by the time he publicly mentioned this in a recent appearance, everyone had already stoned him for going against their company’s mission of protecting their best asset, their employees and had NOT forgotten his original comment of being against the healthcare act.

John Schnatter really has only one thing left to do at this point in his crisis, slice up and eat some humble pie. Here is what I recommend:

  • John needs to make one final and clarifying statement on the topic of how his company will handle healthcare as it concerns his employees.
  • His final statement should be either pro-customer or pro-employee. If he has paid attention to the comments, he would realize that none have been highlighted as saying, the public will not pay the extra cents so others can have health insurance. Either way, he needs to make one final statement and stop discussing it from various angles. The inconsistency is not sitting well with customers.
  • The company needs to focus on publicly highlighting their mission to their employees and to the customers. Ensuring to the public, a business that started off small, can still relate to the working class (his demographic).
  • Until this is completed, the emphasis on giving away 2 million pizzas needs to simmer in the oven before serving it back to the public. (Pun intended.)
  • This should all be done before the boycott gets legs and runs away too far for him to fix.

What do you think? How has the Papa John’s discussion played out among your family members, friends or business associates? Above all, please walk away with this reminder to not incorporate political emotions into your company’s public stance.

Leave your comment below as you may be featured in a follow-up article.

 

****************

Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

********************

Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores