Newspapers ban ‘Dilbert,’ sports drink becomes teen status symbol and more
Plus: U.S. consumers want to buy from companies that share their values.
Many newspapers have announced they will stop running the “Dilbert” comic strip after cartoonist Scott Adams went on a racist tirade in a video, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Adams espoused a variety of overtly racist views, including that white people should stay away from Black people and called Black people a hate group.
Immediately, newspapers across the country announced they would drop the long-running strip. These included the USA TODAY Network, which publishes more than 200 papers.
At @Gannett, we lead with inclusion and strive to maintain a respectful and equitable environment for the diverse communities we serve nationwide. #TeamGannett pic.twitter.com/GvHR1w9ae3
— USA TODAY NETWORK PR (@USATODAY_PR) February 24, 2023
Other newspapers which will drop the strip include the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times, which said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal, “The comics pages should be a place where our readers can engage with societal issues, reflect on the human condition, and enjoy a few laughs. We intend to maintain that tradition in a way that is welcoming to all readers.”
Why it matters: Because Adams’ comments are indefensible, continuing to give him money and share his cartoon creates an inherent conflict for organizations which claim to uphold the values of DE&I. By moving quickly and decisively, these newspapers can contain the damage and move on.
Will there be backlash from people calling this “cancel culture”? Of course. But Adams had the right to speak. Now the newspapers are having their turn.
A year in, most U.S. businesses kept Russia promises
As we mark one year since Russia’s unprovoked attempted invasion of Ukraine, NBC News looked at how American businesses have upheld their promises intended to isolate and punish Russia.
Most have kept their word, the network found. In a review of the 30 companies that were part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 24 were in business with Russia before the war. Eighteen of those have either paused operations in Russia or left the country altogether, while the remaining six have reduced their involvement. When contacted by NBC News for an update, none who responded planned to roll back those changes.
“Never before in history have we seen so many companies exit from a country overnight,” Steven Tian, a research director with Yale University’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, told NBC News.
Why it matters: Consumers want businesses that lead with purpose and say what they’re going to do. While exiting Russia may have been easier than cutting ties with a country like China, it still had an impact on businesses and bottom lines. By following through on their promises, these organizations show that they value something above pure profit.
A sports drink is the hottest status symbol for teens
The outside of the bottles are colorful, with PRIME stamped in bold letters. Their contents are … well, they’re basically Gatorade, with a bit of coconut water and maybe some caffeine.
The retail price is $2.40 each. But in some areas, their resale value can hit an eye-popping $100, the Washington Post reported.
“It actually has zero to do with the product,” Amanda Russell, a professor and director of the Global Center for Influence at University of Texas, told the Post. “It’s about the community and the cult that they’ve built.”
That cult is built by controversial influencers Logan Paul and KSI, who achieved fame via YouTube and have parlayed it into boxing as well as the Prime energy drinks.
As the Post reported:
Prime has become a way for their devoted followers to show loyalty, and its immense popularity illustrates how influential and widespread marketing from online personalities has become. Experts believe this trend will only continue to grow.
“In the next 10 years, all the biggest brands will be made by creators,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO and founder of influencer marketing firm Obviously. “They understand the medium. They understand what their customers want.”
Why it matters: Influencers are increasingly no longer content merely to sell other companies’ products — they’re now launching their own. Whether it’s makeup, candy bars or energy drinks, influencers are realizing the power they hold.
This trend could make it harder for some organizations to get top-tier influencer talent, as they increasingly focus on selling their own wares. Or it could be an opportunity to partner to create white-labeled products for influencers.
Take a note out of marketing’s playbook and look for partnership opportunities that generate hype and clout when it’s a fit for your brand—not just around products, but around services and campaigns, too.
Trust in business slips in the U.S. but consumers still want businesses with purpose
The quarterly Morning Consult Global Corporate Purpose Tracker has been updated, revealing that trust in business leaders has slipped 4% since the last survey in late October.
“Negative economic expectations are potentially to blame, as consumers brace for a tough year of possibly tighter monetary policy and more layoffs,” Morning Consult wrote.
Even as trust dips, consumers still want to buy from businesses who share their values. Sixty percent of American consumers said they prefer to buy from businesses that share their values. That number actually puts the country on the low end of the surveyed countries — 75% of Chinese consumers and 73% of Italians want to buy from companies who share their values.
When asked the No. 1 values-driven factor that could drive Americans away from a company, respondents said that using forced labor was the biggest dealbreaker.
Why it matters: Have you noticed the theme in today’s Scoop? Your company’s values matter. It matters that you follow through on your word and that you stand for something. Silence is no longer enough. You must take a stand on major issues and make sure your customers know what that stand is.
Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.
People “prefer to buy from businesses that share their values” but don’t always tell. Don’t only “stand for something” but try to stand for what will maximize your public popularity.
Washington leaders can’t always do it but know that a way to maximize popularity is to favor all appropriation bills and oppose all proposals for taxes.
It’s safe to say controversial issues like abortion “merit scrutiny” but it would be crazy to come out for or against. Even an executive speech praising motherhood and apple pie can bring grief if what you write can be interpreted as favoring motherhood now rather than birth control.
“Who may be mad at us?” That’s often crucially important. Consider what issues to take a stand on because of their importance, but not which stands to take because it’s important to stay employed. If your CEO one day asks “what stupid bastard got us into this,” better that the answer should not be you.
A good relatively safe idea can be allowing cause groups to use company meeting rooms in the evening, especially if you generously throw in free coffee and cake or even sandwiches. This may win a lot of goodwill from low-budget cause groups grateful that “these people CARE about us.” And care you should.
Maybe do it just one night a week so you are not swamped.
Be sure you do at least a minimum in donations for groups opposed to disease and for causes you can gladly support. If you gently ask, those you support may say something nice about your company in their internal publications.
Inquire cautiously about what causes your top executives support. You can’t say not to, but you can point out that quiet support may reduce the peril of loud opposition from activists who march with signs and who shout curses.