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Posts Tagged ‘Change.org’

Russell Simmons’ ‘Harriett Tubman Sex Tape’ Apology Didn’t Go Over So Well

Def Jam founder Russell Simmons has become something of a PR/media man extraordinaire, what with his digital marketing “don’t call us an agency” company and his newly-launched YouTube channel All Def Digital. Seems like his team could sell water to a well, no?

Unfortunately, this week he chose what might have been the worst possible way to roll out his latest product: with a poorly planned satirical clip titled “ADD History: Harriett Tubman Sex Tape” which made light of some horrific aspects of life in the pre-Civil War United States.

In short, the Tubman character encourages a friend to hide in a closet and photograph her having “special time” with her slave master—evidence which she later uses to blackmail him. This quote from Clutch magazine explains why the clip angered everyone with an Internet connection on Wednesday:

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Abercrombie & Fitch Apologizes for CEO’s ‘Cool Kid’ Comments

Abercrombie & Fitch has been embroiled in controversy since Business Insider re-published disturbing comments CEO Mike Jeffries made in a 2007 Salon article, including doozies like, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely,” and “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids…we go after the cool kids.”

In a society deeply engaged in anti-bullying discussions and efforts to make standards of beauty and “coolness” more inclusive, these comments ignited a widespread and fiery backlash, including a grassroots re-branding campaign and a Change.org petition.

The petition, started by 18-year-old Benjamin O’Keefe (who has himself overcome an eating disorder), garnered over 70,000 signatures and asked the company to stop sending the message that teens aren’t beautiful, demanding A&F start selling clothes larger than a size 10.

Here’s a graphic recently published in the Huffington Post, which shows the major hit Abercrombie & Fitch has taken over the past month. For the full effect, we recommend listening to this audio clip of a nosediving airplane while viewing the graph.

After a brief apology Jeffries recently posted on Facebook failed to turn the tide, the company invited O’Keefe and members of the National Eating Disorders Association to its headquarters in Columbus, OH last week to discuss their concerns with executives. After the meeting, A&F released this statement: Read more

PR Fail: It’s Time for Reebok to Drop Rick Ross

Rick RossWe can’t claim to be any wiser than the brand strategists at Reebok, but we do feel quite confident in writing that it’s long past time for the company to address the controversy surrounding one of its celebrity spokesmen, rapper Rick Ross. The hubbub concerns these lyrics from Ross’s recent single “U.O.E.N.O”:

“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

“Molly”, in case you missed it, is slang for ecstasy, and the verse quite clearly indicates that Ross slipped the drug into a woman’s drink without her knowledge and “took her home” while she was under its influence. There is literally no way to make these lyrics look good.

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Petition Asks Coke to Follow Pepsi, Remove Chemical from Powerade

Powerade Coca-ColaWe’ve talked a lot recently about the PR wars over food labeling, but what happens when labels already offer complete transparency and customers don’t like what they see?

Aveyca Price of Georgia recently noticed that her bottle of Powerade contained brominated vegetable oil, a synthetic chemical used to prevent separation in soft drinks that, if consumed in high amounts over a long period of time, can build up in the body and cause serious toxic effects. Oh, and it’s also a flame retardant.

Surprised and concerned that her sports drink contained a chemical so controversial it has been banned in over 100 countries, Price decided to take action.

Because an online petition that received over 200,000 signatures recently helped prompt Pepsico to phase out BVO from its Gatorade sports drinks (although it’s still present in Mountain Dew), Price created a similar petition on Change.org asking Coca-Cola, makers of Powerade, to do the same. Within its first month, Price’s campaign gained over fifty thousand supporters. “Fifty thousand people (signing) within a month is amazing. I’m surprised and I’m glad I have that many people backing me up,” she said.

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Meet the ‘Sesame Street’ Crisis Response Team

Sesame Street courtesy of The Sesame WorkshopThis week’s New York Magazine includes an intriguing profile of a crisis response team that’s been in the news quite a bit lately: the PR group representing Sesame Street puppetmasters The Sesame Workshop. The profile seems even more relevant given the ongoing Elmo-related drama that culminated in puppeteer Kevin Clash’s abrupt resignation this morning.

Protecting the interests of Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the press-averse Snuffleupagus seems like a fairly low-risk job, but Sesame Street deals with more PR challenges than you’d expect–even if we leave out the Elmo kerfuffle. Day-to-day crises range from longtime fans’ “sellout” accusations to a multitude of unlicensed usage cases involving trademarked and extremely valuable characters.

This year, for example, the team had to do its best to “clamp down on” a glut of sexy Big Bird costumes—and we didn’t even mention the Change.org petition demanding that the company force Bert and Ernie out of the closet. Must have been hard to write a serious press release about that one.

Ironically or not (depending on your political sensibilities), the team’s leader is whip-smart Sherrie Rollins Westin, a veteran of the George H.W. Bush White House and former wife of longtime Republican strategist Ed Rollins (who briefly managed Michele Bachman‘s amazing 2012 presidential campaign). The team also includes former Newsweek CEO Tom Ascheim and Myung Kang-Huneke, who previously represented the New York City Housing Authority (an organization that’s perpetually defending itself against lawsuits). In other words, these guys do NOT mess around.

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Backlash Builds Against Retailers Starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving

Over the years, retailers have begun opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday in order to make the most of the biggest shopping day of the year. This bottom line-driven phenomenon is not-so-lovingly known as “Black Friday creep,” conjuring images of something amorphous and sinister rolling slowly through the night to overtake Thanksgiving — and that’s not too far off, really.

Just ask Casey St. Clair, a Target employee whose recent petition to get the retail giant to stay closed on Thanksgiving night (rather than opening with Black Friday deals at 9:00 pm as scheduled) inspired a veritable revolt among retail employees and customers alike.

Her email via Change.org read, in part:

In the last week, over 230,000 people have signed my petition asking my employer, Target, to change its Black Friday shopping hours to let employees have Thanksgiving dinner with our families.

We have real momentum, and this Monday, I’ll be delivering my petition with over 230,000 signatures to Target Headquarters – click here to join us and add your name.

After I was on TV, my manager offered me Thanksgiving day off. But I declined. This isn’t about just me — it’s about respecting one of the few days retail workers have a year to spend time with loved ones.

While Target is certainly not alone in opening on Thanksgiving (Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Sears and KMart will be the first large retail chains to open with Black Friday sales at 8:00 pm), it has received the brunt of the public’s ire thanks to the petition.

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Deportation Stopped, Thanks to the Internet

Astrid Silva and her dad. Photo via Change.org

How much power is there in social media? Well if Change.org is any example, a lot.

A Los Angeles student has used Facebook and Change.org to stop the deportation of her friend’s father, a man in Nevada she never even met. Jamie Alegra started a campaign against the deportation of Cesar Carlos Silva and garnered 594 online signatures.

Change.org said Alegra did it by bringing her laptop to school and collecting the signatures from fellow students and school faculty. The petition was called “An activist’s father needs your help. Don’t let ICE tear Astrid Silva’s family apart,” and succeeded in keeping Silva in the country.

Change.org is making a name for itself with more than 400,000 new members per month. Presently it’s got a petition asking Bank of America to stop it’s new $5-to-use-your-ATM-card fee that has 134,000 backers.

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