Walmart KOs violent-video displays but keeps guns, Uber spins bad financials, and blackface at Belgium’s Africa Museum draws ire

Also: Farmer Boys’ social media sweepstakes win, apps’ value for consumers, PR pros’ stand on profanity in messages, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Belgium’s Africa Museum apologized after hosting an Africa-themed event organized by events company Thé Dansant. Several attendees showed up in racist attire—including blackface—and backlash erupted as the images made the rounds online.

Africa Museum brass quickly distanced itself from the event in its mea culpa—quite a feat, considering it happened on museum grounds:

View this post on Instagram

IMPORTANT MESSAGE | Last Sunday, Thé Dansant organized an ‘Afrohouse’-themed event in Tervuren park. As we indicated in a previous post, AfricaMuseum was not the event organizer. We agreed to provide access to the site based on the recommendation of the municipality of Tervuren. When the event was announced on Facebook, we noticed that the dress code suggested by Thé Dansant would likely encourage highly clichéd and stereotypical representations of people of African origin. The museum immediately contacted Thé Dansant to point out the potential consequences of this approach, and to ask the organizers to change the dress code. This measure turned out to be insufficient as some of the participants still chose to wear stereotypical outfits. A number of hurtful and humiliating photos taken during the event are now circulating online. The AfricaMuseum misjudged this situation and should have played a greater role in imposing clear requirements and/or conditions in advance. We take this incident seriously, and want to apologize for mishandling the situation in such a way that this took place. We take responsibility for this lapse in judgment, and are working on an ethical action plan for upcoming events so that this will not happen in the future.

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The events company’s apology was far less humble, insisting that attendees wearing racist costumes didn’t “represent the whole event.” In its response, it also lowercased “african.”

CNN Style reported:

Thé Dansant told CNN in a statement: “We’re sorry for some people that were absent and took the dress code in a negative way. As an organization we neither stand behind the one person that painted his face black. But this person does not represent the whole event.”

But the company insisted that “all the visitors from african (sic) origin were PROUD on Sunday.” They said that “everyone interprets the dress code in his/her own way” and added: “50% of the djs were from african origin.”

They later added: “There were lots of africans who all felt very positive about the event.”

If your name is attached to a product, article or event, make sure that affiliated element aligns with your organization’s values and brand image. If you’re not careful about those you partner with and their actions, your brand image can quickly be tarnished.

Take this nod from a passage in the museum’s apology: “The Africa Museum misjudged this situation and should have played a greater role in imposing clear requirements and/or conditions in advance.”

Here are today’s top stories:

Walmart removes violent video game displays

Following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio in which 31 people were killed, Walmart sent employees a memo that instructed them to turn off hunting season videos and films depicting violence, remove signs that reference violent games or movies, and cancel events for combat-style and third-person-shooter video games.

The memo circulated across social media platforms, sparking headlines.

USA Today reported:

“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment,” said Tara House, a Walmart spokeswoman, in a statement.

Why you should care: Consider the current social and political climate when you craft your messages, especially after a natural disaster or a tragedy such as a mass shooting. Walmart’s decision to quash video game images while still selling firearms and ammunition won’t go over well with some consumers.

Walmart hopes to win over skeptics by being “thoughtful and deliberate” in its statements.

USA Today reported:

“We are a learning organization, and, as you can imagine, we will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence,” McMillon said. “We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

How much would you pay for access to your favorite app?

A new study from Mcguffin reveals the true value that users place on the most popular social media platforms. Topping the list: YouTube.

Are you surprised by some apps’ popularity? Share your thoughts with us with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Farmer Boys scores on social media with ‘bacon intern’ search

The restaurant chain captured social media users’ hearts with its “Bacon Intern” position, which will pay one applicant $1,000 for an eight-hour day of bacon tasting:

The contest has garnered tons of engagement under its hashtag #farmerboysbaconintern and can serve as inspiration for its spin on crowdsourcing content. Who knows? Farmer Boys might also find its talent recruitment efforts revitalized amid all the excitement.

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Why I Should Be Chosen By @farmerboysfood To Be Their #BaconIntern For a Day… By: Jocelyn Uy. In this essay I will prove what a ginormous fan of #bacon I am and why I am the ONLY choice to be THE Bacon Intern. 🥓🥓🥓 I have self-identified as the #baconlady for several years now. I have participated in various events, including a couple food festivals (#bigbitebaconfest #labaconfest) and a few bacon 5K’s (#run4bacon). The @presstelegram actually caught me in a candid non-bacon pose while I was in between bites of bacon during one of the food festivals (#coffeegoeswithbacon). 🥓☕️ This summer I was able to “party” on the #imdboat during @sandiegocomicconinternational during their #Baconfest, which was basically an awesome party celebrating bacon on an amazing yacht in San Diego! (Thanks @imdb!) Bacon boat party? That’s pretty much heaven….. on a boat. 🥓🛥 I tend to showcase my love of bacon by wearing paraphernalia that represents bacon! The one time I was able to meet my idols, @epicmealtime, I showed them my OG #baconstrips T-shirt I bought from their website when they were just starting out on YouTube. Their work….. their ART …. inspired me to not be afraid to let people know what I love. I love bacon. 🥓🥓🥓 In conclusion, choose me to be the Bacon Intern for #farmerboys and I certainly won’t let you down. I will never give you up …. either. 😏 Thanks for coming to my bacon TED talk. Please vote for Jocey. 😜🥓🥓🥓 This post is #baconladyapproved #farmerboysbaconintern 🥓🥓🥓

A post shared by Jocelyn Uy (@j0ceyj0ce) on

How can you take a contest or sweepstakes campaign and make it more engaging (and interesting to journalists)?

Related reading:


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Frontier airlines is offering a free round-trip flight to passengers bearing either surname:

https://twitter.com/FlyFrontier/status/1159075524628623360

To get the freebie, you must reach eligibility requirements and book a flight that departs on Aug. 13 and returns by Aug. 20.

The marketing stunt is part of an entire campaign filled with giveaways and messages promoting its sustainability efforts, but the “fly free” schtick made headlines and social media buzz, proving once more that the fastest way to consumers’ hearts is through their wallets.

CNN Travel reported:

The airline says customer response has been positive.

“We’re very excited to share our green message with everyone,” said Zach Kramer, a Frontier Airline spokesman, adding that many people are tagging friends with those names. “I was surprised how many people have the last name Green.”

Uber posts mind-boggling $5.2B loss in Q2

The ride-hailing startup lost $5.2 billion during this year’s second quarter—which, besides Kraft Heinz, General Electric and Newell Brands—is more than the remaining S&P 500 companies lost within their entire 2018 financial year reporting.

Why it matters: Uber has had to gloss over a lot of bad news in the last several years, including allegations of a toxic culture along with unsavory PR and marketing tactics, as well as a chief executive who caused additional crises. Now, it’s painting a positive face on hideous numbers.

CNBC reported:

Uber shares traded roughly 8% lower in premarket trading on Friday.

“We think that 2019 will be our peak investment year and we think that 2020, 2021, you’ll see losses come down,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC.

When it’s time to share quarterly financial data, make sure you educate consumers about the reasons behind your ups and downs. If you’ve lost the respect of consumers, it might be hard to get the benefit of the doubt.

Related reading:


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked you whether the use of profanity is OK to include in your messaging. Most of you believe foul language should be handled very carefully.

However, the winning option is that it depends on the situation, revealing that many communicators don’t believe that profanity is immediately disqualifying. Instead, you caution that this kind of language should be treated with extreme care.

PR Daily editor Ted Kitterman offers further insight into this topic in his piece, looking at Beto O’Rourke’s outburst and what PR pros can take from it.


SOUNDING BOARD

Business analyst and aspiring PR pro Woody Bass III said profanity can be “wildly different” depending on whom you ask—which is another reason to consider your audiences when you craft messages:

Aside from the four-letter words that most can agree are distasteful in certain company, what words or phrases would you not dare to say to particular audiences or the public at large?

Share your thoughts in the comments or online with the hashtag #MorningScoop.


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