Tokyo Olympics’ president apologizes for sexist remarks, CMT, others cut ties with Morgan Wallen, and Merck’s chief to step down

Also: American and United Airlines warn employees of upcoming furloughs, 37% of online shoppers visit retailers’ websites before purchasing, and more.

Hello, communicators:  

Merck & Co.’s chief executive , Kenneth Frazier, is stepping down at the end of June. He will transition to the company’s executive chairman and will be replaced by its current chief financial officer, Robert Davis.

Yahoo Finance reported:

“His shoes won’t be easy to fill in so many ways, both within Merck but also including his many principled and valuable contributions to important issues facing society today,” Davis said on a post-earnings conference call.

Frazier is “one of only a handful of Black executives leading major U.S. companies,” Yahoo reported, so communicators should expect additional scrutiny of organization’s DE&I initiatives, especially hiring practices and the C-suite makeup.

Here are today’s top stories:

Tokyo Olympics president apologizes for sexist remarks

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee, issued a mea culpa after backlash over his remarks that increasing the number of female board members would cause meetings to run over.

The New York Times reported:

“On boards with a lot of women, the board meetings take so much time,” Mr. Mori, 83, said to laughter, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun, one of the country’s largest daily newspapers. “Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others probably think, I need to say something too. That’s why everyone speaks.”

Mr. Mori, a former prime minister, was responding to a question asking him to comment on the Olympic committee’s plan to increase the number of women board members to more than 40 percent of the total.

The Guardian reported:

[Mori] added: “If I say too much, the newspapers are going to write that I said bad things, but I heard somebody say that if we are to increase the number of female board members, we have to regulate speaking time to some extent, or else we’ll never be able to finish. I am not going to say who said that.”

“We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”

Backlash was swift, and the hashtag #Moriresign trended on Twitter following the president’s remarks. He later issued a lukewarm apology, during which Mori was adamant that he wouldn’t resign.

The Times reported:

At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. Mori said he had no intention of resigning. “I recognize the remark was against the spirit of Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I deeply regret what I said.” Mr. Mori said he wanted to retract his remarks, and he apologized “to those who felt uncomfortable.”

Why it’s important: Saying you wish to retract offensive statements, including racist or sexist comments, won’t erase them from existence. Issuing an apology that includes phrases such as “if you were offended” or “to those who felt uncomfortable” also weakens your apology, as it attempts to minimize the impact of your behavior. Accepting responsibility is the first step in a meaningful an apoligy, so if you’re not going to be accountable for your actions, don’t expect your crisis response to elict positive media coverage or audience feedback.


American Airlines announced that it’s sending furlough notices to roughly 13,000 employees this week, due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis and with the airline’s second round of federal aid funds expiring in March.

CNBC reported:

“The vaccine is not being distributed as quickly as any of us believed, and new restrictions on international travel that require customers to have a negative COVID-19 test have dampened demand,” American’s CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote in a note to staff.

Rival United Airlines last Friday sent similar furlough warnings to 14,000 staff members.

Especially when communicating furloughs, layoffs and realignments, do so as quickly and compassionately as possible. Your employees deserve to hear the news from your organization’s leaders, not news headlines.


An infographic by Kantar and Catalyst Digital underlines key takeaways for e-commerce strategies in 2021, revealing that 54% of consumers who are exposed to ads say it helps remind them of something they need—or inspires an idea for what they want to purchase.

It’s not all about ads and SEO, either. Thirty-seven percent of all online shippers visit retailer websites or organizations’ apps before purchasing, providing opportunities for communicators to provide value and strengthen brand loyalty:


Image courtesy of Catalyst Digital.

You can also view the infographic here.


Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?


Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Network to connect and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.

CMT and other brands cut ties with Morgan Wallen

After TMZ published a video of the country singer using a racial slur, condemnation for Wallen spread online—and Wallen’s label, Big Loud Records, along with CMT, Entercom and iHeartMedia, swiftly severed ties.

Big Loud Records tweeted that it was dropping Wallen from its label:

CMT said it’s removing his appearances from all platforms:

The Academy of Country Music tweeted a statement barring Wallen from receiving any awards this year:

CNN reported:

Entercom said in a statement that it would be pulling Wallen’s music from their network of more than 200 radio stations.

“In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent use of a racial slur, we’ve discussed the incident with our Country brand leadership team and together have made the decision to remove Morgan’s music from Entercom’s playlists,” a spokesperson told CNN.

iHeartMedia also announced it would not play Wallen’s music.

“In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately,” a rep told CNN on Wednesday in a statement.

People reported:

After the video of Wallen hurling the slur surfaced, he apologized in a statement to PEOPLE.

“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever,” he said. “I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”

Why it matters: Vet the influencers, celebrities and content creators with whom you partner, and be prepared to make quick decisions when a crisis hits. In some circumstances, you might decide to work with the influencer partner to make amends, such as Citi is doing with golf pro Justin Thomas. However, under most circumstances, brand managers should cut ties and step away as quickly as possible, while denouncing the offensive comments or behavior and reaffirming your organization’s values.


The start of a new year brings more opportunities for communicators across roles, organizations and industries to develop effective strategies and efforts that can strengthen their brands amid continuing crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council has created The 2021 Communications Benchmark Survey, and wants to know your challenges, successes and needs as you navigate the rapidly shifting communications landscape and respond to unprecedented crises as well as new opportunities.


Please share your insights with us. As a thank you for your time and insights, you’ll receive an Executive Summary of the report, packed with proprietary research that can help you better shape communications strategies in 2021. You’ll also be entered to win one of five $100 Visa gift cards.

Take our survey here.


We asked which content format is the biggest focus for 2021, and more than 56% of you are embracing images and infographics, with nearly 19% turning to blog posts or press releases, and almost 19% focusing on live or produced videos:

Is there question you’d like to see asked? Please let us know under the #DailyScoop hashtag!


If your day-to-day PR efforts had a soundtrack, which song(s) would it include?

Weigh in below and on Twitter under the hashtag #DailyScoop, and we’ll share in tomorrow’s roundup.



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