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Lawsuit

‘Distruptive’ Startups Refine Their Strategies for Working with Regulators

airbnbAirbnb’s executives have decided that the free market doesn’t trump the law and that the rules do apply to them after all.

The details have been reported elsewhere, but the decision is a big deal for startups (and their investors/promoters) that might eventually run up against those pesky things we call legal regulations.

The big questions to be answered–and the ones that most concern these startups’ advisory and PR teams–are “how should ’distruptive’ businesses be regulated” and “what’s the best way for them to work within/around existing regulations?”

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Jury Rules Against Former Anheuser-Busch Comms Veep in Equal Pay Case

BEER BEER BEER

Surprise, surprise: Jill Abramson isn’t the only woman in a prominent executive position who *allegedly* received less money than her male predecessors.

In a case that should draw the attention of all who work in corporate communications, a jury ruled that Francine Katz, who was promoted to VP of comms and public affairs at Anheuser-Busch back in 2002, did not receive unfair wages due to the fact that she happens to be a woman.

For the record, Katz strongly disagrees.

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Kellogg Agrees: ‘All-Natural’ Means Absolutely Nothing

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Earlier this week, The New York Times columnist/nutritionist/penultimate “foodie” Mark Bittman wrote an op-ed about our consumer culture’s over-emphasis on the word “organic.”

His point? Eating better and living healthier lives has very little to do with whether the products one buys are technically organic–even though there’s a clear and important distinction between agricultural practices that qualify and those that don’t. Non-organic lettuce, for example, is far healthier than organic crackers–and the fact that Ben & Jerry’s products hew to certain production standards does not in any way mean that they’re healthy.

When it comes to marketing practices, of course, it’s a different story–and Kellogg is only the latest company to agree (under court order) that the phrase “all-natural” as it exists in the market today is completely meaningless.

Remember Naked Juice?

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Snapchat Admits That It Made Up All That ‘Privacy’ Stuff

snapchatWe’ve known for some time that Snapchat‘s privacy claims don’t quite add up, and today the network and the Federal Trade Commission have reached an agreement on that point.

What does this mean? Basically, Evan Spiegel and company will officially admit that snaps don’t really “disappear forever” (they never did) and that recipients may, in fact, preserve the images/clips indefinitely in several ways without letting the sender know.

Here’s the big one: in addition to the false claims about disappearing snaps, the company also copped to collecting and transmitting user data despite claims to the contrary–and its recent security breach theoretically allowed hackers to collect that data.

Sound familiar?

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Purina in Legal Catfight with Blue Buffalo over False Advertising

cats fighting

I Can Haz Your Mama! 

In today’s litigious society, advertising and messaging has to be triple-approved and double-verified before it goes public. Otherwise, your agency will get sued.

As noted on Purina’s website, a press release notes that the Blue Buffalo Company tried to tell America that Purina’s food contain animal by-products, corn and other items that its advertising specifically says the company forbids, as noted in FOX Business.

Understanding this is a pimp-slap attack on reputation, Purina took umbrage with this note and told the nation they were throwing down in federal court. Yes, via press release. Yes, this really happened.

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#PRWin? Elmo’s Puppeteer Kevin Clash Cleared of ‘Tickling’ Charges

kevin-clash-2-300The man whose voice became the clarion call of Sesame Street every time he laughed and sang “Elmo’s World” can finally mutter a sigh of relief.

Kevin Clash, 53, the man behind the furry faced myth, was officially cleared of sexual abuse charges in a U.S. Court of Appeals.

In 2012, Clash was accused of molesting multiple young men who asked him how to get to Sesame Street. Those allegations cause Clash to lose a job and children everywhere to lose a voice that been with them since infancy.

It was tragic news. Two years later (sad how some justice just isn’t that swift), he has been cleared of charges, but will the stain be cleared of his reputation?

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Steve Jobs Is Now Bad for Apple’s Reputation

steve-jobs-1984-macintosh-1

To say that recent lawsuits have been terrible PR for Apple would be an understatement.

The company’s ongoing copyright battle with Samsung, for example, produced a string of internal emails between its marketing manager and its ad agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day, over “brand likability” and the failure of recent campaigns to elevate the iPhone over the Galaxy.

The other big suit going on at the moment concerns supposed anti-employee collusion between four top tech companies: Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe. The plan’s mastermind was Steve Jobs himself, but Apple would prefer that no one mention that fact at trial.

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General Mills Completes Its Reversal on Arbitration Terms

cereal

In the final chapter of a brief three-part exercise in damage control, General Mills has completed its 180-degree reversal on a failed plan to prevent future class action lawsuits by forcing consumers to resolve complaints via private arbitration.

After refusing to comment on a New York Times story that speculated as to whether the new terms would have forbidden all fans and followers from filing suit, the company attempted to clarify before dumping the effort entirely.

Over the weekend, GM’s director of external communications issued a statement in the form of a blog post which nicely demonstrates the difficulty of turning legal terms colloquial.

Key quotes and our translations after the jump.

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Chipotle May Need to Unwrap Its Crisis Plan for Unlawful Termination Lawsuit

food with integrity

Chipotle is one of this nation’s most admired brands because of its dedication to natural food, catchy headlines, and eco-responsibility. To wit, you rarely hear about any drama in the house of the fatty (burrito).

Until now…

Meet Natasha Velez, 27, from Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She was a dedicated burrito aficionado until she was fired for allegedly recovering from domestic abuse and had “too many issues outside of work.”

Yeah, that’s the perception police on the white courtesy phone.

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N.J. Atheist Sues for Reverse Religious Discrimination

8theist

It’s New Jersey: not even the last notch in the Bible Belt

For years, Christians — the ardent, serious ones, not the “fruits, nuts, and flakes” cereal crowd — have espoused that the only legal prejudice left on earth is against them. Anyone is allowed to hate on the Church, but let someone hate on [insert your alternate house of worship here] and it’s national news.

Fair? Another topic for another day.

This story, however concerns religious freedom and the right to not care to exercise it. So, there’s this woman who wanted the license plate above, and was denied by the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission. Concerned about that, she typed in “B-A-P-T-I-S-T” on the NJ MVC website, and it was accepted.

Annnnnnd then she called her attorney.

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