The Catholic Church is usually one of the last institutions we would associate with words like “progressive” and “tolerant” in reference to homosexuality, but comments made by Pope Francis on Monday may signify the beginning of a major shift in attitude.
During a press conference aboard the pope’s overnight flight home from a week-long trip to Brazil, His Holiness was asked how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active. Pope Francis answered by saying, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?…You can’t marginalize these people.”
Considering that the Vatican has long regarded homosexuality as a disorder, and previous popes like Benedict XVI formally barred gay men from entering the priesthood, the weight of these remarks — though brief and simple as they may seem — cannot be overstated. Read more
A lawsuit against Target has brought to light an employee training document –”Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips” – that offers advice to managers who work with Hispanics. According to court documents, Target was thoughtful enough to remind those in charge that:
a. Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;
b. Music: not everyone dances to salsa;
c. Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero;
d. Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented);
e. Cubans (Political refugees, legal status, higher education level); and
f. They may say ‘OK, OK’ and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.
The definition of the “All-American family” has evolved (and is still evolving) into a much more inclusive, realistic concept than it was in the days of the Cleavers. Many of today’s movies and television shows reflect that evolution by featuring all sorts of families in their storylines, including interracial, single-parent, and same-sex partner families. The sad truth, however, is that advertising is often behind this curve, as brands seem afraid to be seen as taking a controversial stand or making a political statement. This lag time was made evident once again when a recent Cheerios spot featuring an interracial family garnered more attention than seems plausible in this day and age.
In 2013 America, a country led by a president who is himself a product of an interracial marriage, few people would be surprised to see an interracial couple walking down the street or featured in a Hollywood film. But such couples appear so infrequently in advertising that the below Cheerios spot, featuring an average family going about their business on an average morning, generated enough buzz to appear on the front page of Reddit last week, an honor usually reserved for the most shocking of stories.
The Youtube video has been viewed over 1.5 million times, and the comments section got so out of control that Cheerios disabled it. Camille Gibson, the brand’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement: “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families, and we celebrate them all.” And on Monday’s Today show, she added: “The [YouTube] comments that were made were, in our view, not family friendly. And that was really the trigger for us to pull them off. … Ultimately we were trying to portray an American family. And there are lots of multicultural families in America today.”
We’re glad to see Cheerios embracing the situation that so many brands shy away from, but wonder how much longer it will be before seeing the diversity of our country represented in advertising will no longer be shocking, but commonplace, and advertisers will no longer have to justify their failure to remain safely within antiquated and narrow-minded social boundaries .
Coke has been doing some creative things with vending machines of late; the Diet CokeSlender Vender can fit in places no hefty drink-dispensing device has gone before, while a Coke-sponsored flag dispenser in a Denmark airport helped welcome people to the “happiest country on earth”. Now, it seems Coke has bestowed an even loftier task upon its vending machines: world peace.
In partnership with agency Leo Burnett, Coke created “Small World Machines“, vending machines that function as soda-dispensing communication portals. In an experiment aimed at promoting mutual understanding and camaraderie between citizens of India and Pakistan, two countries engaged in long-standing religious and political disputes, one machine was placed in Lahore, Pakistan and another in New Delhi, India. The machines allowed people to see and interact with each other, and, perhaps most importantly, complete shared tasks. Once the tasks were successfully completed, the machines rewarded people’s amicable teamwork by dispensing a Coke.
Jackie Jantos, global creative director at Coca Cola, said that the idea of creating stories around shared experiences goes back to the roots of Coke as a brand that started at a soda fountain, which is in itself a communal experience. Coke’s website says: “In 1971, Coca-Cola taught the world to sing through its iconic ‘Hilltop’ ad. More than 40 years later, the brand invited the people of India and Pakistan – two groups used to living with conflict – to share a simple moment of connection and joy with the help of technology.”
We know change is often difficult, but it is also an unavoidable, necessary and indispensable catalyst to the very concept of improvement. In many respects, the PR industry is about handling change: how to predict it, identify it and proactively leverage it as an asset instead of ignoring it and turning it into a certain liability. To the Augusta National Golf Club, which today broke an 80-year-old practice of not allowing women to join its ranks, we can only say: It’s about time.
For Americans, the notion of democracy is in our DNA; we’re raised on it, breathe it, sing about it and integrate it into our identities. We know that our differences make us stronger, not weaker, as a society, so of course we’re skeptical of exclusivity–especially when exercised through a long-standing policy based on gender, race or creed. Today, everyone even remotely associated with the Augusta National Golf Club, the Masters Tournament and the sport of golf is almost certainly breathing a huge PR sigh of relief.
Anyone remember that episode of the Chappelle Show about a blind African American white supremacist? Apparently, the idea wasn’t so far-fetched. Take the story of Csanad Szegedi, a (now former) leader of Hungary’s Jobbik Party–an organization that sprinkles its campaign materials with overtly anti-Semitic messages. In his heyday, Szegedi railed passionately against the “Jewishness” of the political class, and his party’s presidential candidate reportedly referred to Israeli Jews as “lice-infested, dirty murderers.” Have you guessed the punchline yet? That’s right, Szegedi recently discovered that his mother was Jewish, which officially makes him a Jew–or, in the eyes of his party’s current presidential candidate, fifty percent dirty murderer.
Turns out that his grandmother survived Auschwitz and his grandfather spent time at several labor camps (!). Read more
As we previously reported, anti-gay marriage comments made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy have polarized fast-food lovers everywhere. On Wednesday, Chick-fil-A supporters converged in droves upon its restaurant locations all over the nation for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”, resulting in “record setting” sales, according to ABC News. But today, those on the other side of the argument plan to have their say.
“National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A”, which takes place today in protest of Cathy’s comments, encourages same-sex couples to take a photo or video of themselves kissing at their local Chick-fil-A. It has yet to be seen how many will turn out for the kiss-in, but the Facebook event page, which has over 13,000 confirmed participants, states the following:
“In honor of their support for love, equality, and the real definition of family, we’re holding a NATIONAL Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick Fil A’s around the country. So grab a friend (or 20) and head out to your nearest Chick Fil A! And don’t forget to post photos/videos of it here! For all the world to see!
We would also like to clarify that this event was NOT created as a response to Mike Huckabee’s appreciation day, this event was created on July 19, several days before Mike Huckabee announced his plans for Wednesday August 1.”
As we reported earlier this week, fast food chain Chick-fil-A won’t be opening a franchise in Boston anytime soon, thanks to the anti-gay marriage comments recently made by the company’s president, Dan Cathy. Well, we can now add Chicago to the list of cities in which Chick-fil-A is unwelcome.
While Chick-fil-A already has one location in Chicago, Proco “Joe” Moreno, a member of the City Council, told the Chicago Tribune that he plans to prevent the franchise from building its second restaurant in his ward, saying, “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the 1st Ward…Because of this man’s ignorance, I will now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the 1stWard.” He also said that Cathy’s comments were “bigoted, homophobic.”
Also, according to the Los Angeles Times, Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the Windy City, released a statement that said, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”
As we reported last week, there has been an outpouring of both support and outrage in response to comments made by Dan Cathy, President of Chick-fil-A, about his anti-gay marriage stance. Despite Chick-fil-A releasing a statement meant to calm things down (the statement failed to actually denounce or apologize for Cathy’s comments), the controversy has continued to pick up steam, and is now not only costing the company some of its customers, but also its partnership with the Jim Henson Company and a potential Boston franchise.
And if movies and TV have taught us anything, we know that there are two people you really don’t want to tick off — a Bostonian, and Miss Piggy.
The Jim Henson company, which had been providing the “Creature Shop” toys in Chick-fil-A “Kids meals,” has severed its business ties with the fast food chain, saying in a statement:
“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD.”
Between the Boy Scouts reconfirming their stance on excluding gays, and controversy over Target‘s refusal to sell Frank Ocean’s album, it’s been an uproarious week in the debate over gay rights. The latest firestorm of conflicting public opinions on the subject was sparked by anti-gay marriage comments made by Dan Cathy, President of Chick-fil-A. The fast food company famous for inventing the chicken sandwich is now scrambling to invent a way out of the political spotlight.
According to CNN, when asked on Monday about his company’s opposition to gay marriage and support of the traditional family unit, Cathy told the Baptist Press that he and his company were “guilty as charged.” He went on to say that he and his company are “very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Both an outpouring of support and a wildfire of outrage followed, with Chick-fil-A’s Facebook and Twitter accounts being flooded with arguments on both sides, causing Chick-fil-A to become a top trending subject on Google on Thursday. In an apparent attempt to douse the flames, the company posted the following statement on their Facebook page: