Ben & Jerry’s stops ice cream sales in West Bank, digital newsroom employment dwarfs newspapers, and Toyota holds back on Tokyo Olympics

Also: McCormick searches for taco influencer, Nike supports employees during supply chain shortage and how one retail real estate trade association is rebranding.

Hello, communicators:

Spice brand McCormick is looking for its first-ever director of taco relations, a new hire it says “everyone will be taco-ing about.”

Candidates were asked to submit a video showcasing their personality and passion for tacos, including unique taco recipes, taco-themed trivia and any additional qualifications. The winner will work with the McCormick brand team to develop new taco recipes using the brand’s taco seasoning mix, connect with fellow taco aficionados, travel across the country to visit famous taco purveyors and even take a “taco immersion course.”

“While taco trends continue to change and evolve, our seasoning has remained the first choice for countless families across the country,” McCormick CMO Jill Pratt said in a press release. In fact, over the past year, we have seen our taco seasoning fly off grocery store shelves, at a rate of over 200 packets a minute.  McCormick’s Director of Taco Relations will ultimately honor and support the millions of Americans that rely on our taco seasoning everyday while keeping McCormick at the forefront of the tacos of tomorrow.”

Putting jokes about McCormick’s search for a “seasoned” taco enthusiast aside, the brand’s decision to hire someone for this influencer role is the latest example of a trend that also includes Triller’s search for a resident DJ and Hasbro’s search for a chief Nerf TikTok officer.

Ben & Jerry’s halts ice cream sales in West Bank and Gaza Strip

Ben & Jerry’s has announced that it will stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, regions that are on the forefront of disputes between Israel and Palestinian authorities. Ben & Jerry’s called the areas “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” land which Israel has held in control since 1967.

According to its press release:

We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.

We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.

Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.

The Vermont brand, known for expressing its progressive politics in media statements, has come under fire in the recent months for staying silent about selling its ice cream in the West Bank and Gaza amid renewed conflict in the region. Twitter users even started a hashtag to call out the brand’s silence and pressure them to divest from Israel:

What it means:

Though supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS) seem mostly pleased with the ice cream brand’s decision, steadfast supporters of Israel are now accusing the ice cream makers (both of whom are Jewish) of anti-Semitism, a reminder of why the brand stayed so uncharacteristically silent in the first place.

Even though Ben & Jerry’s won’t make everyone happy, its statement follows best practices, starting with a renewed emphasis on its values and an explanation of the steps it has taken to cease selling its ice cream in Gaza and the West Bank. After stating its values and outlining its decisions, the brand’s statement explains next steps and sets an expectation for sharing an update with all the information it has available in the moment.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

A new study by Pew Research reveals that U.S. newspaper newsroom employment fell 57% between 2008 and 2020 while the number of digital-native newsroom employees rose 144%.

Courtesy of Pew Research

These numbers serve as a reminder that your media relations strategies and outreach efforts should be realistic with respect to the current news landscape and consider how much harder each reporter is working to churn out the same amount of content with a smaller staff.

While you might target newspaper publishers as top tier outlets for securing coverage, your pitch to these publishers should be brief, personalized and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the reporter’s work to stand out in their inbox while making it easy for them to process and respond to your outreach while juggling the rest of their workload.

Read the full study here.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

The International Council of Shopping Centers [ICSC], the largest trade association for the global retail real estate industry, has announced that it is rebranding to address changing trends in brick-and-mortar retail that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. ICSC will now stand for “Innovating Commerce Serving Communities.”

CNBC reports:

“The terminology ‘shopping centers’ or ‘retail real estate’ are still clearly an important part of our membership,” ICSC President and CEO Tom McGee said in an interview. “But they’re somewhat descriptive to the historical nature of who our membership was, from a demographic standpoint … the property type that it was. As opposed to the impact that the industry has upon communities.”

Today, McGee said, ICSC’s membership base is expanding to include other businesses such as technology start-ups and real estate service providers. “This is not just a rebranding,” he said. “To me, it’s reflective of what’s happening in the industry as a whole, and within our membership. And we’re evolving with the industry.”

ICSC’s framing of its rebrand as a larger sea change in the industry demonstrates that even a legacy organization must sometimes be willing to change its direction and messaging approach in accordance with shifting industry demographics.


TAKE OUR SURVEY

The Institute for Public Relations, Ragan Communications, and the University of Florida are conducting a follow-up survey to their 2020 report, “The Career Path of a Social Media Professional.”

This year’s survey investigates and illuminates the career path potential of social media professionals, shedding light on how social media is being managed, viewed and evaluated within organizations. Here are some highlights from our 2020 report.

We invite you to take this survey whether you’re in charge of social media for your company or are involved in some aspect of social media for a client. The survey should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete, and all responses will remain confidential.

As thanks for taking the survey, you’ll get an opportunity to enter a drawing for three $50 gift cards and will receive a copy of the full report, which promises to be chock-full of valuable data for benchmarking and budgeting purposes. The report will be presented on Sept. 9, 2021 at Ragan’s Social Media Conference in Orlando, Florida and published through IPR and PR Daily.

Take the survey today!


CRISIS COMMUNICATONS

Nike has responded to a news analysis from Panjiva, the supply chain research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, which warned that the sneaker manufacturer could run out of Vietnamese-made shoes following a production halt at three plants in Vietnam due to rising COVID-19 infection rates. Panjiva says that Vietnamese-made sneakers account for approximately 49% of Nike’s seaborne imports to the U.S.

Yahoo! Money reports:

A statement from Nike given to Yahoo Finance says that the sportswear giant is committed to the wellbeing of its employees and that the company believes that it can maneuver around the current supply chain challenges.

“The health and safety of our teammates, as well as that of our suppliers, remains our top priority. We continue to work with our suppliers to support their efforts in response to the dynamic and unprecedented nature of COVID-19,” the statement said.

“As we continue to navigate these circumstances, we expect our suppliers to prioritize the health and livelihoods of their employees and continue to comply with legal requirements and the Nike Code of Conduct on the provision of wages, benefits, and severance. We are confident in Nike’s ability to navigate these near-term dynamics, and we remain prudent in our planning,” the statement continued.

While Nike’s response to Panjiva’s report neither affirms nor denies the numbers, it takes the opportunity to regain control of the narrative by renewing the brand’s commitment to how it treats its global workforce and pushes back on accusations of Nike’s sweatshop practices that have dogged the brand for decades.


RAGAN’S 2021 BENCHMARK REPORT

Ragan has released its annual Communications Benchmark Report, an exclusive study from Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council that analyzes the major trends in the profession over the last year.

During that time, comms pros have been called on to develop and distribute messages on new policies that affect internal and external stakeholders alike. Their role has become more essential as they helped keep their organizations focused and moving forward. They’ve seen their access to the C-suite increase throughout 2020, and they forged important new alliances with peers in other departments, including HR, finance and workplace wellness.

Culled from more than 750 respondents, the 32-page report is available in its entirety exclusively to members of the Communications Leadership Council.

Download your copy of the exclusive Benchmark Survey Executive Summary today and get a crucial competitive advantage that will fuel your success for 2021 and beyond.

Toyota explains decision to scale back on Olympics involvement

Toyota has announced that it will not run Olympics ads in Japan and that its CEO Akio Toyoda will not be attending the Olympics opening ceremony this Friday.

CNN reports:

The representative, Hideaki Honma, emphasized Monday that the company was not “canceling” any Olympics-related commercials, saying that none were planned in the first place.

Honma also confirmed to CNN Business that Toyota (TM) CEO Akio Toyoda would not be attending the Olympics opening ceremony. “We wanted to refrain from attending while people who were looking forward to the event cannot go now,” Honma said, noting the recent decision by organizers to not allow any spectators, because of public health concerns.

Asked about Toyota’s decision during a press conference Monday, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said he “wasn’t aware” of the news. But he acknowledged that Olympic sponsors “must have been struggling to support” the Games this year, particularly amid “mixed public sentiment.”

“In that respect, there must be a decision by each company in terms of … how they should be able to convey their messages to public audiences from [their] own corporate [perspectives],” he told reporters.

The New York Times reports:

“Various aspects of this Olympics aren’t accepted by the public,” said the [Toyota] spokesman, Jun Nagata, according to the business daily Yomiuri Shimbun.

The ads will still be shown in other markets, Toyota Motor North America said in a statement. “In the U.S., the campaign has already been shown nationally and will continue to be shown as planned with our media partners during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the statement said.

Why it matters:

As the most high-profile sponsor to pull out from the Tokyo Olympics, Toyota’s decision sends quite a message over the Japanese auto brand’s stance on the games proceeding this year. By not airing Japanese ads and commenting on the optics of having CEO Toyoda attend the opening ceremony, Toyota demonstrates a compassion and consideration for its stakeholders and the people of Japan.

By airing Olympics ads in America, however, Toyota’s approach serves as a reminder that your global communication strategy should be flexible to the distinct cultural sensitivities of different regional markets.


SOUNDING BOARD

Have you ever convinced your organization to end a sponsorship or other financial partnership in a region due to bad optics?

Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know using the hashtag #DailyScoop!

COMMENT

4 Responses to “Ben & Jerry’s stops ice cream sales in West Bank, digital newsroom employment dwarfs newspapers, and Toyota holds back on Tokyo Olympics”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    This is encouraging news for those of us, because it can make us feel not alone, who’ve ever felt “how could I have made such a dumb decision?”

    Ben & Jerry’s has had the good sense and good fortune to retain the firm of Carol Cone, a top expert on “purpose-driven communications” (which in plain words means doing corporate good deeds to both make the world a better place and boost corporate reputation). But the Cone people are MUCH too smart to figure that reputation can be gained by doing what millions of Americans may consider disgusting.

    Cone is so good that after one top PR firm bought her company, another
    top PR firm HIRED her! (Or to conform with a restrictive covenant probably brought her in as “a consultant.”) Millions of people are today alive or living better–and many companies are safer and more profitable–thanks to the corporate good deeds Carol Cone’s people taught clients to do.

    So why in the world would a Cone-counseled company do what millions could consider an attack on Israel? Go figure. Sometimes when PR helps a company to become hugely successful, it goes to management’s head and they figure they’ve become PR experts.

    An increasingly valuable benefit of having a great PR firm is their ability not just to get positive results but to convincingly tell a client’s CEO “no, don’t do that and here’s why.” One of the best at this is Edelman because when Richard Edelman takes a client to lunch at the Harvard Club, there’s an almost magical majesty about the counselor and the site. Clients may be more easily persuaded. Omnicom has two of the world’s best “purpose driven communications” execs and they recently did a brilliant article for PR Daily.

    But alas, now that no one persuaded Ben & Jerry’s to be more moderate,
    their profits, unlike their ice cream, may be much less sweet.

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Notice how Toyota missed an opportunity to do what the Omnicom “purpose driven” PR superstars might have counseled: look at the TRUTH and how Toyota could help with that truth so as to benefit the public and add importantly to Toyota’s corporate reputation.

    The TRUTH is that Covid is a terrible problem that is hurting Japan’s health and reputation. The PR truth is that Toyota could help both health and reputation by not standing aloof but by providing FREE TRANSPORTATION in the coming weeks to Japan’s health community people who are working to protect the Olympic athletes and the Japanese public.

    Also, this would further associate the Toyota name with the ideas of health and safety. Plus Toyota’s example could lead other companies to also help protect the athletes and the public.

    This would make the world a better place and earn for Toyota a better reputation. Cost would be very moderate. But the cost of inaction if it annoys the Japanese public could be substantial. That’s an important reality about purpose-driven PR: you can not only benefit from doing the PR but lose out if you don’t do it.

    Ronald N Levy says:

    American consumers who favor NOT defunding our police and NOT helping Ben & Jerry’s work against America’s ally Israel, may want to NOT shop at stores that sell Ben & Jerry’s.

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