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Corporate communications

UPDATE: Toys ‘R Us Breaking Bad Figures: Crisis or Not?

Bryan Cranston can joke about this, but it’s become a serious story for Toys ‘R Us if only because of the volume of press coverage about the Breaking Bad-themed toy line. Here’s the company’s only response to date:

“The products you reference are carried in very limited quantities and the product packaging clearly notes that the items are intended for ages 15 and up. Items from this TV series are located in the adult action figure area of our stores.”

So is this a big deal or not?

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Uber’s Crisis Comms Strategy: Automated Email Responses

uber-300x225Amateur chauffeur provider Uber got a bit of attention on this blog back in July for saying (via General Manager Chris Nakutis) that PR is a waste of money and that new companies can “almost jump over the…process” altogether.

We’re starting to think that the business really does live that philosophy. A couple of weeks ago we noted, via BuzzFeed, that Uber issues the same “Safety is our #1 priority” statement every time one of its drivers scores negative coverage.

Today we learned, via Valleywag, that in some particularly egregious cases the company doesn’t bother releasing a statement at all.

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Apple Damage Control Strategy: Blame Josh

Its appleAfter all the news and the pseudo-news and the record-breaking brand tweets, Apple finally responded to “bendgate” yesterday.

In many ways, the company’s actions show how far its strategy has moved away from the “take no prisoners” approach that an inside source described to us earlier this month. In that interview, the contact told us that the Apple of the past would never comment directly on anything. Yet he also noted that Tim Cook wants to “put a friendlier face on Apple”, and the company’s most recent moves seem to confirm that fact.

First, Apple release an official statement saying, effectively:

“Yes, a phone was bent, but it only happened to nine people (out of ten million).”

Apple even went further than that, inviting CBS to tour its previously super-secret iPhone testing facility to underscore the fact that everyone really needs to calm the hell down. The company even had some online brand advocates happy to let everyone else know that the “bend test” video you’ve all been passing around was a conspiracy dreamed up by a full-time hater.

Yesterday  brought a Bloomberg article that seemed to lay the blame for Apple’s performance issues at the feet of a single, unfortunate person. His name is Josh.

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Under Armour Comms VP Explains Damage Control Strategy

Here’s a quick but relevant clip that our friends at AdAge posted yesterday.

Diane Pelkey — VP of global communications for Under Armour — explains how the brand tackled the fallout from the bombshell February Wall Street Journal story in which members of the U.S. speed skating team blamed the company’s products for their disappointing performance at the Sochi Olympics.

Pelkey’s point is simple, and it’s worth repeating: be transparent, don’t hide from the story and make sure to offer all relevant spokespeople to media contacts for comment.

While the success of the ensuing campaign may be up for debate, the logic behind the strategy is sound.

CBS Obeys Twitter, Agrees to Drop Rihanna from Thursday Night Football

CBS made a wise move last week by announcing plans to suspend for one week (sound familiar?) a Thursday Night Football intro segment including a performance by Rihanna and a comedy segment featuring Don Cheadle.

Early this morning, the pop star let everyone know how she felt about the decision:

This development really had nothing to do with penalizing Rihanna or diminishing her star power, but CBS heard that tweet and responded.

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Walmart Comms VP to Resign Over Fake Resume

David TobarIn a peculiar story, David Tovar has announced his plans to resign from Walmart after spending more than eight years in various top PR roles at the big box chain. The reason? He was less than honest about his (alleged) status as a college graduate.

Tovar’s name isn’t new to us or our readers: he’s been a popular speaker at industry events like The Holmes Report’s 2013 Global Summit and PRSA’s recent corporate comms conference. He also made headlines by doing things like boycotting The Huffington Post over its “unfair coverage” of his employer, “fact-checking” an unflattering New York Times op-ed, and admitting that the Waltons sometimes have trouble keeping their shelves stocked.

In other words, he’s bolder than your average corporate communications executive — especially when it comes to massaging the truth about his background.

He tried to explain things to CNBC today.

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McDonald’s Still Trying To Figure Out How Twitter Works

Remember the “how chicken nuggets are made” video that McDonald’s Canada released back in February?

We loved it because it demonstrated how much better the chain’s Canadian wing is at the CSR game — and it got more than four million views on YouTube.

Today, however, the company seemed desperate to prove its own unfamiliarity with the clip in response to a tweet from the popular How Things Works account:

No, the GIF isn’t particularly appetizing. But the McDonald’s response is a little…contradictory.

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Home Depot Data Breach Could Break Record Set by Target

Home Depot

Bad news for Home Depot as the company presumably prepares to issue some serious apologies: a recently reported credit card data breach could quickly surpass Target‘s nightmare to become the biggest in history.

From The New York Times this morning:

Over the last few days, thousands of fresh credit and debit card numbers have surfaced on so-called carding sites, which are websites where stolen credit card data is sold…So far, all roads point back to Home Depot. And if the evidence uncovered so far proves to be valid, the hack could top the record-setting breach of Target’s network last December.

It gets worse.

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Bad PR: Malaysia Airlines ‘Ultimate Bucket List’ Competition

Malaysia_Airlines_B777-200ER

Straight from the files of What Were You Thinking? comes a “Bucket List”-themed contest from Malaysia Airlines that ranks as the second worst decision recently made by the beleaguered travel brand (the first was to retain its name in the “rebranding” campaign that started Friday with the elimination of 6,000 jobs).

As reported by Time, potential customers in Australia and New Zealand were recently invited to share their “bucket lists” (i.e., lists of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying) for a chance to win a free ticket.

We don’t even need to tell you why this idea was one of the worst possible choices for the company.

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Anthropologie Brings Us ‘Nipplegate’

breastfeedingAnthropologie shopper Ingrid Wiese Hesson recently spoke to CBS news about an unfortunate (and illegal, according to California state law) incident she experienced at the chain’s Beverly Hill’s store, which she is calling “nipplegate.”

Here’s the story:

After spending $700 dollars on “breastfeeding friendly” clothes, Hesson sat down to breastfeed on one of the stores plush vintage chairs. Before long, she was approached by a manager, who said “I’m here to escort you to the ladies’ room so you can finish breastfeeding…”

When the manager opened the door to the restroom, she apologized for the lack of a chair. “Of course the only thing in the bathroom is the toilet seat,” Hesson noted.

Hesson said she contacted the store manager later to find out more about what had happened. The manager “said there are other customers in the store, and she thought they would be more comfortable and you would be more comfortable,” she recalled.

The manager’s actions “won’t stop me from doing what’s best for my baby, but it could stop me from shopping at stores that aren’t tolerant,” Hessen said.

Frankly, this one shocks me because I swear I’ve come across an Anthro catalogue featuring a breastfeeding model in some tribal maxi skirt pedaling optional $100 nipple tassels to plug up leakage when not in use.

It just all seems to go against the brand’s bourgeoise bohemian ethos, amirite? Read more

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