Popeyes’ sandwich sells out, Forever 21 ponders bankruptcy, and Marriott to discontinue tiny toiletries

Also: Olive Garden pushes back on fake news, pharma companies seek to settle after J&J ruling, consumers’ satisfaction on social media and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

The recent $527 million ruling against Johnson & Johnson for its role in Oklahoma’s opioid crisis has begun a domino effect among other pharmaceutical companies.

NPR reported:

Confronted with a torrent of lawsuits across the U.S., several major drug companies are in discussions with authorities to resolve thousands of opioid-related suits filed against them. A government source close to the negotiations tells NPR that Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo International and Allergan are looking to cut deals.

… Purdue Pharma has confirmed to NPR that global settlement talks are underway that would resolve all claims against the company. Published reports suggest the deal could involve payments of up to $12 billion and a bankruptcy process that would force the Sackler family to give up ownership of the company.

How do you see additional lawsuits and settlements affecting marketing policies and regulations? Share your thoughts under the #MorningScoop hashtag.

Here are today’s top stories:

Report: Forever 21 eyeing bankruptcy

The retail clothing chain is looking to cut its losses with a potential bankruptcy filing, according to a published report.

Bloomberg reported that negotiations with potential lenders haven’t panned out, and Forever 21 is now focusing on a debtor-in-possession loan instead of additional financing.

USA Today said:

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection often involves some store closures as retailers look to break leases on money-losing stores and slash loans. The goal is typically to create a reorganized, often-smaller company that can get a new start.

“With 815 stores, many in undesirable malls, a bankruptcy filing gives Forever 21 the leverage to either renegotiate rents, which landlords are more than willing to do in this retail environment, or reject leases and free itself of liability for unprofitable stores,” said [Eric Snyder, a partner at New York-based law firm Wilk Auslander].

A bankruptcy filing would add Forever 21 to a growing list of retailers folding their organizations, including Payless Shoe Source, Toys R Us, Barneys, Shopko and Charming Charlie’s.

 Why you should care: You don’t have to be a retailer in danger of shuttering its doors to heed the adage, “Adapt or die.” Incorporate current best practices into your PR, marketing and social media strategies, including storytelling, targeted pitches playing on current trends and news, and interactive content that stands out from the competition.

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

Are consumers satisfied with their experience on social media?

That’s what ACSI asked when it put together its ASCI E-Business Report for 2018-2019. Overall satisfaction held steady, but the report shows many consumers losing their love of Facebook.

Platforms that made gains in the past year include YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.

How can your organization respond and ensure your content is on the platform your audience prefers and avoids being irksome? It might be time to think beyond Facebook’s News Feed and offer video content and educational programming on another platform.

Marriott International bids adieu to single-use toiletries

The world’s largest hotel chain announced that it’s getting rid of the tiny bottles of shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in its hotels around the world by December 2020.

Yahoo reported:

“Our guests are looking to us to make changes that will create a meaningful difference for the environment while not sacrificing the quality service and experience they expect from our hotels,” said Arne Sorenson, the group’s president and CEO.

The chain estimates the move will prevent about 500 million tiny bottles from going to landfills, a 30 percent annual reduction from current amenity plastic usage.

Marriott’s announcement is in addition to its removal of plastic straws and stirrers from all its hotels, which it launched in 2018. Several others in the hospitality industry are making similar decisions.

Associated Press reported:

The move follows a similar announcement last month by IHG, which owns Holiday Inn, Kimpton and other brands. IHG said it will eliminate about 200 million tiny bottles each year by 2021. Last year, Walt Disney Co. said it would replace small plastic shampoo bottles at its resorts and on its cruise ships. Many smaller companies, like the five Soneva Resorts in Thailand and the Maldives, have also ditched plastic bottles.

Why it matters: Creating sustainable strategies for your organization can net you positive PR as more consumers become conscious of the social and environmental impacts that organizations have. Embracing sustainability can also help you avoid operational and PR problems in the future, because many cities, states and countries are drafting laws to ban plastic items and cut down on other environmentally unfriendly practices.

Related reading:


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Popeyes Chicken’s new sandwich went so viral that the menu item is sold out in all locations.

NBC News reported:

“The demand for the new chicken sandwich in the first few weeks following launch far exceeded our very optimistic expectations. In fact, Popeyes aggressively forecasted demand through the end of September and has already sold through that inventory,” the chain said in a prepared statement.

The menu sensation and its grassroots popularity are a marketer’s dream—and employees’ worst nightmare.

Vox reported:

It’s all fun, right? Well, not for employees. They can’t take breaks. Food items run out. Customers freak out. And workers deal with it all while earning unlivable wages.

Wanda Lavender, a 38-year-old Popeyes manager, told me she doesn’t get paid enough to deal with all the customers who lined up for sandwiches this past week. She earns $10 an hour managing a Popeyes in Milwaukee. She told me her legs are still numb from standing for 10 to 12 hours a day — she had to spend her birthday making chicken sandwiches instead of taking the day off. One of her employees quit. An angry customer even threatened to shoot her staff.

“It was out of control,” she said Wednesday before her shift. Restaurant Brands International, which owns the Popeyes chain, did not respond to a request for comment as of publication time.

Olive Garden turns to Twitter to quash fake news

 A tweet claiming that Olive Garden and other restaurant and fast-food chains support President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has gone viral:

Delish reported:

The original tweet boasted 240,000 retweets, including one from Chrissy Teigen, adding, “I’m about to get skinny as [f***].” The reports sent other fans into a tizzy, too. …The hashtag #BoycottOliveGarden has also gone viral.

The main issue with the tweet—and subsequent Twitter user ire—is that the allegation is false. However, the conversation continues as Olive Garden’s social media team has been busy replying to those sharing the misinformation:

Snopes.com reported:

… For the previous election cycle, as Open Secrets observed, “all contributions to candidates from Darden Restaurants came from individuals,” and contributions to Donald Trump from those individuals totaled a paltry $886 in 2016 and $250 in 2018, hardly enough to merit a claim that the company was “funding” Trump’s election or re-election. (Hillary Clinton received nearly ten times as much in Darden-related campaign contributions in 2016 than Donald Trump did.)

Why it matters: Your organization doesn’t have to misstep to be the target of a social media firestorm. Online platforms can quickly spread information regardless of how accurate it is, so continually monitor both brand mentions and overall online conversations to spot potential crises early on.

Olive Garden’s decision to deny the fake news instead of ignoring it has prompted new headlines, as news media outlets report on its response. However, the reports are including correct information, which could be Olive Garden’s ultimate objective.

Related reading


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked you what strategies will receive more of your precious budget dollars next year. Content/brand journalism was the frontrunner, with 39% of you planning to spend more to boost your content games. Social media wasn’t far behind, with 35% planning to bolster your online presences:


SOUNDING BOARD

Why should PR and publicity be considered separate functions—or should they?

Weigh in on Twitter under the #MorningScoop hashtag, and check out Ted Kitterman’s piece on the differences between the two.


 

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