Comcast uses E.T. to stoke nostalgia, Amazon gets backlash over concentration camp ornaments, and Starbucks apologizes to PD in Oklahoma

Also: More Black Friday consumers purchased online than ever before, Facebook adds ‘fake news’ notice after pressure from Singapore, what ‘business acumen’ really means, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Comcast is striking a nostalgic chord to prompt consumers to reconnect with loved ones (using its services, it hopes).

Its new Xfinity commercial is a short sequel to “E.T., the Extra Terrestrial”:

Though ZDNet called the move “extraterrestrial desperation,” Xfinity’s YouTube video has racked up nearly 11 million views, with its tweet capturing more than 14,500 retweets and nearly 33,000 “likes.” Comcast also grabbed kudos from consumers touched by the ad.

What do you think of the play on an old film favorite? Share your thoughts under the #MorningScoop hashtag.

Here are today’s top stories:

Amazon garners backlash for Auschwitz ornaments

The e-commerce company scrambled to remove Christmas products that bore images of the Nazi concentration camp after the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial tweeted pictures:

A few Twitter users who responded in the growing backlash said the ornaments’ images seemed to be computer-generated, with the third-party vendor not realizing nor checking what was being used:

However, most of the ire online was aimed directly at Amazon, even though the company didn’t make the products:

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial tweeted an update after the items’ removal:

Why it matters: Though Amazon didn’t create the offensive products nor was it aware of them until online backlash grew, the crisis highlights an issue for organizations that work with third-party vendors, influencers and other partners. A partner’s mistake can quickly mar your brand image and leave you struggling to rebuild consumer trust. It’s also a cautionary tale on the dangers of automation. When you run those systems unchecked or have only a reactive crisis plan in place (instead of a proactive strategy), you could be dealing with additional PR crises.

The New York Times reported:

Chris McCabe, a former Amazon employee and founder of ecommerceChris, a firm that consults with marketplace sellers, said repeat issues with offensive content partly reflected Amazon’s “reactive” approach to enforcing its policies.

… The sheer volume of items being sold on Amazon through third-party sellers makes it challenging to identify and remove all offensive items before they are found by the public, Mr. McCabe said. The volume, he added, also makes it impossible for humans to review all items before they are posted. More than half of the products sold on Amazon.com are from third-party sellers.


FROM THE EXPERTS

PR pros have probably heard the phrase “business acumen” thrown around, but what does it mean to have business skills and savvy within the communications industry? PR Daily editor Ted Kitterman recently published an overview of a study in the Institute of Public Relations’ Public Relations Journal that can get you up to speed. Check it out here.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

This year’s Black Friday was the biggest in U.S. history, according to data published by Salesforce. Along with record-breaking revenue, more consumers purchased online than ever before—with half of the digital traffic coming from mobile devices.

Black Friday e-commerce revenue amounted to $7.2 billion in the United States alone—an increase of 14% from 2018’s sales. Salesforce also shared that e-commerce traffic stayed steady throughout Black Friday:

How does the rise of e-commerce affect your PR and marketing tack?

 Starbucks apologizes and partners with PD to ‘promote greater civility’

 On Thanksgiving, a Starbucks barista in Oklahoma wrote “PIG” on cups meant for the Kiefer Police Department. The barista was fired, and Starbucks issued an apology that read, in part:

This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are deeply sorry to the law enforcement officer who experienced this. We have also apologized directly to him and connected with the Chief of the Kiefer Police Department as well to express our remorse.

… This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.

Starbucks also teamed up with Kiefer P.D. to co-host a “Coffee with a Cop” event to “discuss the critical role dispatchers and police [officers] play in keeping our communities safe.”

 Why you should care: Your employees’ actions reflect strongly on your organization’s reputation, along with your response to those actions. Starbucks has grappled with educating partners and baristas and instilling in them its corporate mission. When faced with a crisis deriving from an employee’s actions, you must act swiftly. However, don’t forget to include additional steps for remedying the problem and ensuring it won’t happen again. (In Starbucks’ case, it hopes to do so through the community conversation.)


SOCIAL BUZZ

Following pressure from the Singapore government, Facebook added a correction notice to a post by States Time Review that accused the country’s government of election-rigging and arresting a whistleblower.

Though Facebook did not remove the post, it added a note at the bottom, which read:

Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.

The notice can be seen only by Facebook users in Singapore. It’s another incident in a list of battles involving Facebook over fake news and misinformation, especially regarding government and political information.

The BBC reported:

The company – which has its Asia headquarters in the city-state – said it hoped assurances that the law would not impact on free expression “will lead to a measured and transparent approach to implementation”.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked how you were planning to use video content in your 2020 campaigns. The short answer is that most of you are planning to use every format available:

Worried about how to use some of these video tools? We’ve got you covered. Find tips about better livestreaming and advice from our video consultants, or discover our catalogue of webinars to help your video efforts soar.


SOUNDING BOARD

What is the biggest obstacle you face in creating high-quality video content for 2020?

Share your thoughts about the roadblocks communicators face with our hashtag #MorningScoop.

 

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