Ikea apologizes for Juneteenth food menu, Americans increase business travel plans, and big tech discloses renewable energy plans

Also: McCann wins PR Cannes Lions Grand Prix, Southwest’s new CEO defends culture, and Peloton eliminates free running feature.

Hello, communicators:

The annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has taken place virtually this week with prestigious Grand Prix awards being presented to the brands, agencies and campaigns that made the biggest impact over the past year.

The PR Cannes Lions Grand Prix has been awarded to McCann Worldgroup, parent company of Weber Shandwick, for its campaign “The Bread Exam” aimed at teaching women in to perform self-checks for early signs of breast cancer. The campaign was developed to explain the steps for a breast exam without mentioning or showing breasts in an attempt to respect the cultural values around modesty in the Middle East.

“This campaign is a perfect example of resilience and collaboration,” Adrian Botan, CCO of McCann Europe and global ECD, said in a press release. “First, because it was years in the making and kudos to the Paris team for hanging on and preserving the integrity of the idea; secondly, this wouldn’t have happened without the joint effort of our Paris and Dubai offices, and last but not least, this idea wouldn’t have infiltrated culture without the contribution of our partners in Weber Shandwick and McCann Health across five markets in two different regions.”

Botan’s words serve as a reminder that the best campaigns start with a strong intention rooted in integrity and shared values. Consider how your company taps into the wide breadth of perspectives from employees across its entire workforce, including remote and displaced teams, as workers in certain markets and parts of the world may have cultural perspectives that can make your communications and messaging more inclusive.

Atlanta Ikea store responds to criticism about Juneteenth menu

The Ikea location has come under criticism for introducing a limited food menu for employees and customers on Juneteenth that included fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese and collard greens. Critics say the menu showed a lack of understanding about the cultural history of food that is rooted in oppression.

CBS News reports:

“You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history—they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slavery time,” one employee said. “It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit. People weren’t coming back to work.”

Employees said 33 people called out from work, which sparked an internal email response from the store manager on Saturday. It said in part, “I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective. It was created with the best of intentions by a few of our coworkers who believed they were representing their culture and tradition with these foods of celebration.”

However, employees said the decisions behind the creation of the menu should have included voices of color first. “None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu—nobody was black,” the employee said.

Ikea shared an official statement with CBS 46 Atlanta:

“In addition to offering Juneteenth as one of our paid holidays nationally, our IKEA Atlanta store has recognized Juneteenth with our co-workers for the past four years. To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from black co-workers. We value our co-workers’ voices and changed the menu after receiving feedback that the foods that were selected are not reflective of the deeply meaningful traditional foods historically served as part of Juneteenth celebrations.  We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize. We are committed to educating ourselves and putting a process in place that will allow us to thoughtfully honor Juneteenth in the future.”

Why it matters:

Ikea’s failure to include people of color in its discussions around a Juneteenth menu highlights the need to include diverse lived experiences in your communications and marketing efforts and serves as a reminder that no culturally specific campaign or initiative should be developed without members of that culture present when making decisions. Moreover, Ikea’s crisis highlights a disconnect in messaging: If the store has recognized Juneteenth for the past four years and the company has made it a paid holiday, Ikea’s messaging should explain why employees even needed to call out from work on the Juneteenth holiday in the first place.

Take note that the connection between how your employees experience your brand living its values internally directly drives their willingness to keep working there, which in turn can affect talent retention rates and, ultimately, your bottom line.


A new study by Morning Consult has found that 58% of business travelers plan to travel this summer for work, with an even higher number (62%) planning to travel for work this fall and winter. The same study also found that 61% of business travelers and 57% of wealthier Americans said that they will go out of their way to do business with fan airline, hotel or cruise line that they trust.


Courtesy of Morning Consult

These findings have implications for communicators hoping to travel for work over the summer, as well, suggesting that making a business case for your travel can become easier if you travel with airlines and hotels that have a trusted reputation. They also serve as a reminder to continue crafting messaging that addresses your customers’ comforts and concerns.

“There are no shortcuts for travel and hospitality brands looking to earn consumers’ trust,” head of industry intelligence at Morning Consult Joanna Piacenza told PR Daily. “As consumers ease into pre-pandemic habits and activities, they’ll hold brands to a higher standard for customer service and health & safety concerns.”

Check out the full study here.


Southwest CEO Gary Kelly has announced that he is stepping down from his leadership role in February and will be replaced by longtime Southwest executive Bob Jordan. Since Kelly had a reputation for defending Southwest’s policy of not charging for checked bags, he was quick to remind customers that the airline’s culture would remain intact, to which Jordan added his support.

USA Today reports:

“I will say emphatically that we will not charge for bags,” Jordan said. “And there will be no (ticket) change fees.”

“That’s one of the beauties of this: Bob and I are very well aligned with our values, with our love for the company, with our embrace of the Southwest culture and certainly our attitudes toward customer service,” Kelly said. “It’s not like we’re changing the DNA of the company or the brand or something like that.”

Because this announcement comes after a rollercoaster week for Southwest during which the company celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first flight and experienced multiple days of flight cancelations, Kelly and Jordan are under added pressure to renew their commitment to Southwest’s longstanding reputation for outstanding customer service and company culture. The word ‘alignment’ goes a long way toward emphasizing how ideologically linked Jordan and Kelly’s leadership philosophies are. Alignment is a key component in several companies’ approach to external communications and part of a process to customer engagement: acknowledge, align, assure.


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.


Peloton has released a safety update to the software on its exercise equipment that eliminated the free running feature and requires all owners to sign up for its membership.

Gizmodo reports:

“Unfortunately, Tread Lock is not yet available without a Peloton Membership, which means Tread+ owners without a subscription cannot access Just Run at this time,” a Peloton spokesperson told Gizmodo in an email. “We waived three months of All-Access Membership for all Tread+ owners.”

“We understand that this is an inconvenience for some and are working on updates to Tread Lock that will allow us to make Tread Lock and Just Run available without a Peloton Membership,” the spokesperson went on to say.

Several users on Twitter linked the news to a recent recall of certain Peloton products after one child died in an interaction with the equipment:



Peloton’s latest gaffe serves as a reminder to not bury the lede when crafting a crisis response. By placing emphasis in its messaging on the elimination of the feature ahead of the fact that it was giving customers a premium trial and reinstating the free feature, the brand lost the ability to contextualize the announcement and invited further speculation as to how the issue was tied to its recent recall.


Ragan is delighted to add industry event and thought leadership brand Communications Week to our portfolio. You can read the full press release here.

“We are reimagining Communications Week as a year-round endeavor,” says Ragan Communications CEO Diane Schwartz. “The rollout will begin next month with thought-provoking content on the future of communications on Commsweek.com, Ragan.com and PRDaily.com, culminating with a weeklong series in November that will feature conferences, networking events, workshops, webinars and more.”


The flagship event for 2021 will take place Nov. 15-19. Stay tuned for updates on the many opportunities and offerings that will help communicators connect, learn and celebrate their achievements later this year.

Big Tech companies offers details on investment in renewable energy

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google have publicly disclosed their renewable energy purchase agreements, accounting for 30% of all renewable energy being used by corporations worldwide. While these substantial investments in clean energy tell a strong environmental story on the surface, they also heighten the need for big tech to communicate how these projects actually add renewable capacity to the power grid instead of just sucking up existing energy from others.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“It’s almost like a stampede for clean energy,” said Michael Terrell, director of energy at Google. “I think the evolution is to focus not only on the quantity but also the quality of sourcing.”

“Just because you put a clean electron on the grid doesn’t necessarily mean you’re displacing a carbon-based electron,” said Brian Janous, general manager of energy and renewables at Microsoft. Mr. Janous said Microsoft is now analyzing power grids to determine at which locations and times of day additional renewable-energy production would replace the most production from existing fossil-fuel-powered plants to determine where to invest.

Nat Sahlstrom, director of energy at Amazon Web Services, said the company looks for projects where it can be first to set up a commercial template other companies can follow to help jump-start demand. He added that Amazon only selects projects based on whether its purchasing commitments are pivotal to the projects’ viability. “If not for our investments in these projects, they would not have gone forward,” he said.

What it means:

As more companies invest in emerging sustainability solutions, the SEC has placed pressure on corporations to disclose their frameworks for measuring environmental impact. This puts companies who can not only share their metrics, but their methodologies, in a position to become thought leaders on climate and good governance. Begin discussions with your sustainability partners and leadership now around how you will communicate not only the quantitative, but the qualitative impact of your sustainability efforts.


Yesterday we asked if you have ever publicly called out a partner organization for failing to support your company in its messaging.  A resounding 82% of you said that you have not while 18% of you have in the past.

Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know by tagging your suggestions with #DailyScoop!


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