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Damage Control

Doug Ulman Finally Moves on From Livestrong

livestrongLivestrong — a one-of-a-kind case study in branding, PR, advocacy and damage control — has lost its long-time CEO Doug Ulman.

Ulman’s 14 years at Livestrong included both a period of stunning growth fueled by Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories and the little yellow $1 bracelets that helped carry an aggressive message about beating cancer and a subsequent descent as rapid as any of Armstrong’s own Alpine passes.

Ulman will take his talents to Pelotonia, an organization in Columbus, Ohio with a very similar mission. Pelotonia is successful in its own right, having raised more than $60 million through bike rides. (The money helps fund research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.)

This is a good move for both Ulman and Livestrong, because Ulman literally gets to leave town (Austin) and put the best of what he knows to good use. The cancer community will never hold what happened in France against him, and there’s no one more experienced in managing the operations of non-profit driven by cycling.

Livestrong gets to move on too.

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Mexican Wal-Mart Under Fire for Allegedly Hosting In-Store Cockfight

walmart chickenIt’s going to take more than “clean up in aisle seven” to wash this one away.

Wal-Mart Mexico, or Walmex, has come under fire for allegedly hosting a cockfight in its Boca del Rio store in order to promote a soda company.

What happened to good old fashioned free samples?

If the allegations are proven true, the retailer could face fines of up to 96,000 pesos ($7,240), as cockfighting is illegal in Boca del Rio.

A Walmex spokesman, Antonio Ocaranza, said the the promotion was not actually a cockfight, as the roosters weren’t armed with blades, no betting took place, and none of the roosters were harmed.

“It wasn’t a cockfight,” Ocaranza told Bloomberg. “There wasn’t anything that would be in violation of any game regulations.”

Photos of the event (below) depict the penned roosters looking agitated and appearing to attack one another…so, there were cocks, and they fought, but it wasn’t technically a “cockfight” because the birds weren’t wielding weapons? Lovely, then. Read more

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.

Urban Outfitters Semi-Apologizes for Kent State Sweatshirt with Blood-Red Stains

The latest installment of the “Urban Outfitters hocks yet another terribly-offensive clothing item” saga centers around this Kent State shirt, complete with what looks rather unmistakeably like blood stains. enhanced-16199-1410759430-11

What was listed as a $129 “vintage” shirt struck most people who saw it as a tasteless, insensitive reminder of the Kent State Massacre that left four people dead in 1970. As the image swirled around the internet and outrage mounted, even Kent State itself made its disgust known, saying in a statement:

“We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit…This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.”

In response to the flood of complaints, Urban Outfitters issued a semi-apology for the product on Monday morning, saying “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”

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Flushable Wipes’ Public Image Is in the Sh*tter

The London Fatberg is growingFlushable wipes are fighting a PR campaign in the sewers, where they contribute about a third of the debris choking screens and pumps in U.S. treatment plants.

Over the last five years in New York City alone, more than $18 million has been spent repairing and replacing damage that the anal retentive among us hath wrought:

The globs aren’t unique to New York…in London, a 15-ton wad of wet wipes and cooking grease last year accumulated to the size of a yellow school bus inside a sewer line, preventing neighborhood toilets from flushing. It took more than three weeks for Thames Water Utilities Ltd. to break up the “fatberg.”

Similar blockages have been experienced in Orange County, California; Columbus, Georgia; and Vancouver, Washington. PortlandMaine’s Water District is still paying for the $4.3 million it borrowed in 2009, an amount almost equal to half its annual operating costs, for screens to catch wipes before they ruin pumps. [Bloomberg]

Oh, and there’s more! So very much more.

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CeeLo Leaves Twitter, Loses TV Show After Insensitive Rape Comments

CeeLo Green did not have a good weekend.

After pleading “no contest” to slipping ecstasy into a date’s drink, the singer took to Twitter to share his own completely despicable definition of sexual consent, saying, “People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!”

Unless, you know, they were drugged. But don’t worry, he went on to address that technicality as well, exclaiming,”If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously! so WITH Implies consent.”

Oh, that’s how it works!

On Monday, Green attempted to back-peddle by allegedly tweeting the following semi-apologies, which read less like a mea-culpa and more like a celebration of avoiding jail time with a “sorry” to those who supported him sprinkled on top.

The whole I-don’t-condone-rape-thing seems like sort of an afterthought…

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Sexist Headline in The Telegraph Sparks Backlash, Social Media Uproar

When was the last time you saw a headline about a man’s job promotion that read, “Father of Three Poised to Lead Major Company?”

Oh, that’s right. Never. Which is why this recent headline in The Telegraph announcing the expected career move of Rona Fairhead, the former Financial Times chief executive who is likely about to become the first female chair of the BBC Trust, just didn’t sit well with readers.

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Is it true and accurate that Ms. Fairhead is indeed a mother? Yes. Is it a worthy and major accomplishment of which she should be proud? Of course. Is it the most relevant of her accomplishments with regard to her career? Nope.

The paper could have mentioned that she is a longtime businesswoman who holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, or that she was a former employee at Bain & Company and Morgan Stanley and the former CEO of Bombardier’s UK Aerospace Services, or that she is currently a non-executive director at HSBC Holdings. But instead, the paper decided to focus on the novelty of a woman (a mother, no less!) holding such a position of power. Read more

NFL Promises to Crack Down on Domestic Violence

This afternoon the NFL attempted to fight back against one of its biggest reputation challenges by issuing stricter punishments for domestic violence among players.

Will this move pay off? Some details from commissioner Roger Goodell‘s letter to team owners after the jump.

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ESPN Gets the Memo on America’s Disinterest in Michael Sam’s Showering Habits

ESPN Michael Sam

We wanted to look the other way too.

ICYMI: The St. Louis Rams drafted a gay guy in the NFL draft this year. Many have discussed this fact. We blogged about it. Everyone is watching it.

However, most of us are also over it.

Michael Sam showed true courage, walked over a line, and took a stand for the LGBT community. And while everyone with a pulse and a non-blackened heart applauded him for that move then, we have all stopped clapping.

Why? It’s old news. ESPN, however, thought a story about Sam’s showering habits in the Rams’ locker room was necessary. A day later, they apologized because social media blew up.

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#PRWin for Edelman: Named No. 2 in ‘Culture and Values’ Poll Behind Twitter

edelmaninternsTo call Edelman’s summer “eventful” would be putting it mildly. Following a tandem of misjudgments and bad press involving climate change and Robin Williams, the agency announced (in The New York Times, no less) that they will now officially consider themselves “a client.”

You might think that employee morale could take a hit in a case like this one, but good places to work generally remain good places to work. The most recent “best places to work” piece from GlassDoor confirms this fact beyond what we personally know about Edelman and some of the stellar people who work there.

In short, GlassDoor.com just released its “2014 Top Companies for Culture and Values” — and Edelman beat everyone in culture and values except this little known start-up called Twitter.

In the world of business, this is called “a good rebound.”

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