Nike… Are They Doing It?

Nike spends more than 20 million dollars promoting Nike’s golf division to Tiger Woods, LeBron James gets paid $13 million dollars just to play basketball wearing Nike’s Basketball shoes, and in 2010 spent over $476 million dollars to endorse various athletes.

So if Nike has all this money for endorsements why is it that gets the majority of its products are made in third world countries such as Indonesia, China, and Vietnam where the average salary in Vietnam is about $37 a month in US dollars? This was a major scandal during the late 90’s and has since been fixed and they did a good job of cleaning up their image. Recently t there was a commercial that caused a good amount of controversy concerning Nike.

Tiger Woods is one of most endorsed athletes in the world and when the scandal broke out of him being unfaithful to his wife most of his sponsors dropped him. All except for Nike who made this commercial with his father’s voice stating: “Tiger, I am prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. Did you learn anything?”

My question is was this Nike’s attempt to save one of their star athletes, was it just Nike trying to capitalize on Wood’s misfortunate exposure, or was it just made to be talked about and consequently cause more exposure for Nike?

-Ari Nateman

Crisis Averted? A Quick Lesson in Crisis Communication from Toyota

2010 has not been the best of years for Japanese automaker, Toyota. Once known for its reliability and safety, Toyota’s brand image has taken a major hit due to several recalls over the past year. At the beginning of 2010 the car manufacturer was forced to recall millions of vehicles due to a sticking accelerator pedal that led to accidents, and even deaths in severe cases. Just last week, Toyota announced another recall on over 1 million Toyota and Lexus models due to faulty brake master cylinder seals and fuel pumps. The defective seals could cause break fluid to leak onto the break pads, causing them to deteriorate and become spongy, thus making them less effective and even dangerous.

First, their cars accelerated on their own, now their cars can’t stop? Yikes! These two major recalls don’t exactly speak to Toyota’s image of being reliable and safe. Because of this, the automaker has had to step up and do some major crisis communication. Luckily, Toyota gained some valuable experience with their first major recall, making last week’s recall seem minor in comparison.

Unlike the first recall of the year, where Toyota supposedly knew about the flawed accelerator long before they decided to alert the public, this time the company quickly addressed the defective seals and issued a voluntary recall. In any crisis it is important for a company to make the public aware of the issue before it is leaked to the media. If this is done properly, the company can save face. If they try to hide the issue it may appear as if they do not care about the safety of consumers, which has the potential to create even bigger problems.

The way the crisis is addressed by the company also has a major impact on how well it is received by the public. Toyota’s January recall is a prime example of what not to do when handling a crisis. Their lackluster crisis communication left a lot to be desired, but with October’s recall the company has done a much better job. Recall information is readily available on Toyota’s website, however, what is more noticeable are Toyota’s “Safety First” advertisements at the top of the recall page. Because of all of the issues plaguing the Japanese carmaker, their crisis communication team has gone in to overdrive in attempt to repair the brand’s tarnished image, hence the reason all of the Toyota commercials you see today are centered around safety and reliability.

All in all, Toyota has done a much better job handling its second major recall of the year, but issuing two major recalls does not do wonders for the brand’s image. Thanks to some help from their crisis communication team, we have seen the company recover a little, but it is still going to feel the effects from the issues it has faced this year. We’ll have to wait and see how good their PR is in the upcoming months to see if they can regain their position as one of the top auto brands in America.

Sarah McIntosh, Sean O’Connell, Eliza Wadson, Jocelyn Walson

It Takes Two to Tango

Crisis communication is one aspect of the corporate and professional world that is regarded with hesitation and stress. Just as in everyday life, most people prefer to avoid conflict at all cost. However, when faced with conflict or crisis it is those who handle the situations in the most effective and fair manner that exemplify great corporate communication and leadership skills.

An example of crisis and conflict in the corporate world was the tire recall and conflict between Ford Motor Company and Firestone tires. After expressing concerns that Firestone had manufactured defective tires, which had been used on Fords Explorer model vehicles, John Lampe CEO of Firestone tires caused business relationships to quickly end between the two companies. The next day Ford announced that it would have to recall over 13 million tires that had not been previously included in the 6.5 million tire recall. Discrepancies on the safety of the Explorer tires generated heated debates between Firestone and Ford. Though Firestone admitted the tires were unsafe in its first 6.5 million recalls, it denied any knowledge that the alleged 13 million defective tires Ford was recalling, were not safe. Ford’s boss, Jacques Nasser, stated “We simply do not have enough confidence in the future performance of these tires keeping our customers safe.” The companies began the blame game, accusing each other for the defective tires and as injuries and fatalities increased, the conflict and arguments intensified.

As the conflict continued between Ford and Firestone, the incident was being called the most deadly auto crisis in America. By October 16, 2000, over 119 deaths had occurred from the defective tires. In the end, over 250 deaths were reported and attributed to this crisis and over 3,000 serious injuries. While the companies were blaming each other, their consumers were being hurt, and in this case, not figuratively but literally.

The importance of handling crisis communication in an effective and timely manner is essential to corporate business. If the Ford/Firestone conflict had been resolved quickly, with both parties recognizing that it takes “two to tango” and that both parties were responsible for the defective tires, then they could have protected their profit losses, their own employees, reputations, and ultimately ensured the safety of their consumers and thus branding their companies as trustworthy and reliable. Instead, both parties chose to blame the other instead of focusing on a solution and the best possible resolution and thus exemplified very, very poor crisis communication skills which the consumer ultimately paid for, both out of pocket and even their lives.

Breanna Alexander
Lauren Dehart
Lauren Smith
Kelly Wiley

Syringe? Wooden Screw? Pepsi?

PepsiCo has always been a leader in the beverage industry and in 1993, proved this to be true with how they handled their almost-crisis. Earl and Mary Triplett of Tacoma, Washington made the Seattle news when they reportedly found a syringe in a can of Diet Pepsi. Once news of this disturbing incident hit, reports from all over the United States poured in. Within one week, people from 23 states came forward claiming that objects such as a bullet, broken sewing needle, wooden screw and cracked vial were found in their Diet Pepsi cans.

With such serious reports, you would think PepsiCo immediately recalled their product. However, PepsiCo didn’t believe in the reports. After all, with manufacturing facilities in many different locations the likelihood of such a crisis on a national level is slim to none. Instead of throwing in the towel and losing millions of dollars, PepsiCo decided to work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find the root cause of the crisis. In deciding that PepsiCo wasn’t going to recall, they knew they had to explain to the public that this decision is the right choice. How do you communicate this? By using the first ever video news release (VNR).

 In having 4 VNRs, PepsiCo was able to reach 265 million viewers. These VNRs allowed the public to hear and see the facts; that the whole scare was a cruel scam. With exclusive B-roll of Pepsi’s bottling process and surveillance camera footage from Colorado of a suspect tampering with a Pepsi can, PepsiCo was able to keep their brand name clean. At the end of all this madness, the crisis resulted in 20 arrests, each facing five years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines for their false claims.

On June 21, “Pepsi is pleased to announce…nothing” became the headline of PepsiCo’s full page advertisement, placed in 12 national newspapers and hundreds of publications. PepsiCo had already planned on a summer promotion and by using their recent crisis; the company took advantage of their media coverage and tweaked their advertisement accordingly.

What is most important to take away from this crisis was PepsiCo’s ability to invite the media in, letting them know the facts allowed for the truth to come forward and stifled speculation. Media can be a powerful tool, as we have seen through PepsiCo’s crisis scare.

Meghan French and Gracie Anderson

Pain Relief Recall

Last Monday, October 18, Johnson & Johnson announced their sixth recall of the year for Tylenol products.  This recall was due to a musty odor found in Tylenol 8-Hour packaging.  Historically, Tylenol has a reputation consisting of recall after recall ranging from unpleasant odors to fatal issues.  This being said, Tylenol is still a top brand and has remained at the top despite these crisis situations.

How are they able to maintain such a successful image and business if their name is continually in the news for negative reasons?  Tylenol does a phenomenal job of informing their publics through immediate press releases and publicity about current issues as well as issuing recalls in order to protect their consumers.  For example, the company’s website quickly updated information with numbers to call to gain additional information, instructions on how to go about obtaining a refund, and specific details of the reasons for the recall and reasons for the odor.  This use of corporate communication is what solidifies their customers’ trust and loyalty.

Although Tylenol has experienced a more than usual amount of crisis situations where they could have potentially lost customers, their quick actions through their strong corporate communication have continued to make them a stable and reliable company.

-Haley Williams


Corporate Communication in the Real World

If you go to any store you will see multiple products that are essentially the same.  There are several websites that serve the same purpose, but we don’t use all of them.  So, how do we choose or distinguish between the products?  The answer lies within the company’s corporate communication.  A company creates its own brand and identity through their images, logos, and slogans.

One company that has done a good job of creating a distinct identity is SocialCast.  It is a company that my cousin founded to serve as a social media network for businesses.  In order to create a brand that is different from the other social media networks, SocialCast hired a team to specifically handle their corporate communications.  They use Twitter, Facebook, his company’s website and other blogging sites to manage the company’s visual and corporate identity. This creates exposure for the company and engages with its consumers. By doing this, they can manage the company’s identity to fit the changing needs of the marketplace and the needs of the consumers.

The corporate communication team is constantly revamping their logo and website to keep up with the current trends of society and to engage more with their consumers to better suit their needs, wants, and values.  They engage with their stakeholders through their blog, twitter account and website, which gives them ideas to communicate better with the public.

The example below shows one of the ways in which SocialCast has modernized their corporate identity. By changing the logo and making it more up-to-date, the company is keeping up current trends to attract more recognition.

Old Company Logo


New Company Logo

SocialCast is only one example of how corporate communication applies to companies and careers, but there are many other options and career paths for people interested in this field.

- Megan Regele

Branding, It’s Not Just For The Cows!

When we think of branding, yes we can think of cows that are marked to receive their distinction, but in the business world it’s a company’s trademark. In communication, we typically think of the term in regards to businesses. Branding is a necessity for businesses, but it’s also important for professional individuals. Our theme this week is careers in corporate communication. Now that the end of the semester is in close sight and many are looking at graduating, we thought self-branding would be a good topic to discuss.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, people change careers approximately 3-6 times during a lifetime for various reasons. Our world is constantly changing and evolving and a career-oriented professional has to keep up with the times. Generations before us found a job after college and it was considered the norm for a person to stay with the same company and in the same field until they retired. Not many people do that now. This is one reason why it is important for us to brand ourselves. As most of us begin to carve out a career path over the next few months, there has been a lot of talk about what we want to do with our lives. The main focus is what we are passionate about and where are strengths lie. An interesting article points out that self-branding is the difference between “just a job” and a career. It can make you employable in a profession you are passionate about and open doors you never thought existed.

There are many steps to self-branding and the first step for the college graduate is to discover what you are passionate about and where your strengths are within that passion. This brings to mind a chapter in one of our textbooks entitled, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. He finds that the great companies follow the Hedgehog Concept. In short, the Hedgehog Concept is about aligning

1) What you are deeply passionate about?
2) What can you be the best at?
3) What drives your economic engine?

As you see, self-branding sets us apart from the rest of the cattle out there. Let’s go make it happen!

Sarah McIntosh, Sean O’Connell, Eliza Wadson, Jocelyn Walson