Chrissy Teigen & John Legend Donate $288,000 to ACLU

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend found a unique way to celebrate President Trump’s 72nd birthday yesterday (June 14): they donated nearly $300,000 to the ACLU in the real estate mogul’s honor. The $72,000 gift in the name of each member of their family was intended as a loud and pointed protest to what Teigen said was the “inhumane” immigration policies by the Trump administration that have resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border.

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“John and I are outraged to see and hear the horror stories of immigrant families seeking asylum and refuge in America being ripped apart due to the inhumane policies of the Trump administration,” Teigen tweeted, a reference to the administration’s policy that has been separating children and parents at the southern U.S. border. “These actions are cruel, anti-family and go against everything we believe this country should represent.”

More than 1,300 children have reportedly been separated from their parents so far as part of the Trump White House’s “zero tolerance” border policy, an action that has drawn rebuke from a number of members of Congress and the religious community, and which inspired thousands of people to take to the streets in dozens of protests around the country to protest the actions in marches coordinated by Families Belong Together.

Teigen said she and Legend decided to make the sizable donation on behalf of themselves and children Luna and Miles because of the ACLU’s commitment to “defending the rights and humanity of these vulnerable families.”

 

 

The 5 Biggest Brand Fails of 2017

This year, there were many ads which had us wondering how they could have possibly made it past a team (teams!) of creatives and brand professionals, let alone out into the world? Here are the biggest brand faux pas of 2017. Relive. Relearn. Don’t emulate.

Pepsi
Pepsi’s two-and-a-half minute spot “Live for Now,” featured Kendall Jenner leaving her modeling job to join a nondescript protest. In the ad, tensions are mounting between protesters and police—that is, until Jenner magically solves everything by opening a Pepsi for a cop. The brand quickly pulled the spot, which was released in early April, and apologized. 

The lesson learned:
the biggest brand gaff Pepsi committed with this spot was putting its product in the center of social issues while simultaneously trivializing said issues. As writer, social worker and activist Feminista Jones eloquently put it earlier this year when asked about the ad, “brands should never make light of social issues related to people’s suffering; they should, instead, focus on selling their products in ways that don’t exploit the pain and suffering of marginalized people.”

Dove
In October, Dove posted a social ad on its Facebook page that featured a black woman taking off a shirt similar to her skin tone to reveal that she had turned into a white woman wearing a shirt similar to her skin tone. After receiving the much-deserved criticism, Dove pulled the ad and apologized: “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.

The lesson learned:
Dove—or any brand, for that matter—should never create an ad that could so easily be taken out of context, especially one that could read as having a racist message.

United
Things started off poorly for United this year when passengers took (and shared) video of a man being forcibly dragged off a plane by security when he was randomly selected — and declined — to forfeit his seat for airline maintenance workers. That alone was enough to cause an uproar on social media and tarnish the reputation of the brand, but things only got worse when CEO Oscar Munoz issued a cold, victim-blaming apology in which he praised his employees for following proper procedures. Proper procedure or not, delicate situations like this require warmth and understanding — and United Airlines wasn’t prepared to offer it.

The lesson learned:
There are two here: First, The customer is always right. Always. Second: If you make a mistake, admit to it. Every business is going to send out an erroneous or harmful tweet at some point. The ones that stand to recover easily are those that immediately and humbly admit to their mistakes, and try to make up for them.

Uber
It was a pretty disastrous year for Uber overall, with its company’s image enduring a huge series of hits for multiple reasons. But its marketing was no saving grace either and was in fact what kickstarted the downfall. Customer frustration with Uber first peaked back in January after the ride-sharing company appeared to try to profit off a taxi strike, deciding to eliminate surge pricing at JFK after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance went on strike to oppose President Trump’s immigration ban. Within a few hours, the hashtag #DeleteUber had gathered steam and people had started removing the app from their phones. Uber issued an apology and its ousted former CEO Travis Kalanick detailed the company’s stance on immigration. But the company didn’t take any further steps to support its position.

The lesson learned:
Today’s public wants to support companies whose beliefs align with their own—and skeletons won’t stay in the closet for long.

Facebook Is Hiring 3,000 People to Monitor Content

According to AdWeek, Facebook is hiring 3,000 more people for its community operations team, which reviews sensitive material to keep violence, hate speech and child exploitation off the platform. The move brings the division up to 7,500 employees.

In response to a string of disturbing videos that have surfaced on the social network in recent weeks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is expanding its global community operations team.

Zuckerberg said employees will be tasked with reviewing the “millions of reports” the platform receives every week. He said reviewers will help the company more quickly remove content that violates Facebook policies while working with local law enforcement to respond when needed.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen people hurting themselves and others on Facebook—either live or in video posted later,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s heartbreaking, and I’ve been reflecting on how we can do better for our community. If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner—whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.”

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Last month, it announced it’s exploring the use of machine learning to prevent offensive videos from being shared.

“No one should be in this situation in the first place,” he wrote. “But if they are, then we should build a safe community that gets them the help they need.”

Today, community activists and civic leaders in Chicago met with Facebook officials Thursday to urge more aggressive action to curb violence on Live as the social media giant faces a backlash from users traumatized by grisly images of shootings, suicides and murders on the streaming service. The meeting came in response to a call from Rev. Jesse Jackson and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin to shut down Live for 30 days following last month’s murder of Cleveland grandfather Robert Godwin Sr.

Facebook Officals

Facebook and Rainbow Push Officials Meet. Credit: USA Today. 

Giving Water

When Detroit began shutting off the water supply to thousands of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable residents who were behind on their water bills in 2014, U.N. experts called it a violation of human rights. Three years later, the same thing is still happening. On April 19, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department began another round of mass shutoffs.

One nonprofit has a simple way to help: If you donate money, they’ll use it to pay off overdue bills.

The Human Utility first launched in 2014 as the Detroit Water Project, when cofounder Tiffani Bell–a Code for America fellow at the time, based in Oakland–read about the situation in Detroit and started tweeting about it. As she dug around on the water company’s website, she found a list of delinquent accounts and began to speculate about helping pay them off. Bell worked remotely with another volunteer she met on Twitter (Kristy Tillman, now head of communication design at Slack) to quickly build a website to connect donors with people in need.

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Initially, volunteers manually matched donors with people who reached out for help. Now, all donations go into one pool, and anyone with an overdue bill fills out an application that automatically screens them for qualification; they also provide supporting documents like pay stubs.

After going through the Y Combinator program in early 2015, the organization expanded to also work in and around Baltimore, where the donations have helped some families keep their homes.

“You can lose your house over a water bill as well,” she says. “If you don’t pay it…they’ll essentially tack the bill onto your property taxes. So if you don’t pay the property taxes, you’ll lose the house in a tax sale.” Since 2015, the organization has helped around 40 families in Baltimore stay in their houses.

The Human Utility also helps people living in cities near Detroit, although not Flint–where residents pay three times the national average rate for water that still comes from lead-tainted pipes. “We don’t think people should be paying for the water there at all when you can’t drink it in the first place,” Bell says. Flint water shutoffs began in April.

United Airlines Forgets Rule #1

It’s bad enough that airline passengers have to deal with middle seats, cramped overhead bins and stale pretzels. Now they might be subjected to an ass whooping too.

On Sunday, several videos were posted to social media which showed a man being violently dragged off a United Airlines plane out of Chicago after the company said they needed his seat for its crew. The clips show the man screaming as security personnel pry him out of his chair, causing his head to bash against an armrest. He’s then dragged down the aisle on his back as horrified witnesses film on their phones and scream out in disgust.

After the flight boarded, staff announced that they needed four people to volunteer to give up seats so that United employees who needed to be in Louisville Monday could take them. The amount was increased to $800, she said, and passengers were told the plane wouldn’t leave until four people volunteered.When nobody offered, staff announced a computer would select four people. One couple cooperated and left. The man in the video was also selected.

In a statement, the airline apologized for what they initially claimed was an “overbook situation.” But then on Tuesday United reported that they were not actually overbooked, but needed the seats for crew members. The company CEO, Oscar Munoz released a statement on Twitter apologizing for having to “re-accommodate these customers.” Then he released a staff memo which blamed the victim: Munoz called the passenger “disruptive and belligerent” after they “politely” asked him to “deplane.” Ultimately, the crew was “left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight.”

Well at least we know they are loyal to their employees!

And then….

United wiped about $255 million off its market capitalization. In language we can all understand, that means rich investors such as Warren Buffett lost millions. 

Oh and celebrities dragged the airline

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Then came the competition

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And the internets….

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And FINALLY a proper apology

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It may be too late though. To add insult to injury (*smiles*) the incident also comes just two weeks after the company found itself in hot water for refusing to allow three girls to board a flight because they were wearing leggings.

Pepsi…Matters.

It didn’t take long for Pepsi’s recent attempt to heal matters of unrest via carbonated beverage to fail. In fact, it took less than a day. Unless you are living under a rock, you couldn’t have missed the release of Pepsi’s latest ad. It’s a two-and-a-half minute spot from its in-house creative team, Creators League Studio, featuring Kendall Jenner as a model who leaves work to join a protest.

The spot is part of a new campaign, “Live for Now,” which is about celebrating life’s “Live for Now” moments, according to a press release.

Reception to it has not been tragic, as many see a major corporation co-opting a political movement against the current administration, and co-opting Black Lives Matter, to sell soda.

At first, the company stood by the spot, arguing, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.”

This morning, they changed their minds.

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the brand said in a statement. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

Um…ya think?!

So, what went wrong, exactly? How could a company such as Pepsi fail so miserably in this day and age? This article explains the horror beautifully, stating, “This is what happens when you don’t have enough people in leadership that reflect the cultures that you represent,”

Um…ya think?!

The spot continues to live online. If you haven’t see it as yet, and care to be annoyed, have a looksee:

UPDATE:

Kendall is reportedly very upset that she was part of making everyone upset and SNL did an amazing job spoofing the commercial!

 

Lyft Pledges $1 Million to ACLU

Ride hailing provider Lyft has taken a strong stance against Trump’s new immigration actions and ban on Muslim refugees (which Rudy Giuliani admitted is exactly what it was intended to be on Fox News on Sunday morning). In an email sent to users, Lyft noted that it is “firmly against these actions, and will not be silent to issues that threat the value of the community.”

This is one of the strongest statements against Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders from a tech company to date, and Lyft is also putting action behind its words: The ride hailing company also announced it will be donating $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the next four years. The ACLU filed suit against Trump’s administration for the refugee ban, and succeeded in getting a temporary stay of the order from a federal judge on Saturday.

Many other Silicon Valley companies have expressed varying levels of opposition to the actions by Trump and his White House, including Google, Microsoft and Apple, but Lyft has done so with a public document (the messages from many others were shared via leaked internal employee emails) and with a clear articulation of why Trump’s actions are wrong on a moral level, not just as a potential hindrance to acquiring top level global talent, or as a threat to current employees who enjoy U.S. visa status.

Uber’s Travis Kalanick released an email to employees noting that the Lyft competitor would be working with drivers potentially affected to provide them legal assistance. He also said he’d raise the issue of the ban’s impact on “innocent people” during a meeting with Trump’s business advisory council on Friday, of which Kalanick is a member. Kalanick also acknowledged that many employees might disagree with his decision to join Trump’s administration in an advisory capacity, and said they enjoy the right to do so. Uber employees have taken to Twitter to do just that, and the company faces calls to boycott its service, and saw physical protests at its San Francisco HQ as a result of Kalanick’s involvement with Trump’s White House.

Here’s the entire letter sent by Lyft:

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Via Tech Crunch

Facebook Takes a Stand Against Fake News

Today, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said  that the company was exploring new ways to fight the spread of “misinformation” on its social platform amid criticism of its role in amplifying so-called fake news during the presidential campaign.

It is “technically and philosophically” difficult to determine what is fake and what to do about it, Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible,” he wrote.

Many observers have attacked the prevelance of made-up headlines on Facebook, arguing that they swayed votes in the election Nov. 8 and are continuing to distort reality.

Mr. Zuckerberg said new steps might include:

– Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.

– Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.

– Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.

– Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

– Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.

– Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We’re looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.

– Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.

The company earlier this week said it will stop serving ads to sites it decides are misleading or deceptive.

Let’s see how this goes. Take a look at this fake piece of ‘news’ which got over 10K shares in a matter of hours:

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Vote.

After almost a year of emails, tic-tacs, mud-slinging and shenanigans, the day has come – it’s time for us to select the next POTUS. To, um, celebrate and empower us, some brands are pulling out all the stops (or not).

Today the Uber app will feature a Google-powered search that automatically finds your polling place and orders a car to get you there. A reminder will pop up in the app encouraging users to vote and asking them to enter the address where they are registered.

Meanwhile, Zipcar is making more than 7,000 cars free on election day to help its members get to the polls. The vehicles can be reserved on the digital player’s website or mobile app. Of course, there’s a bigger part of the Boston-based company’s promotion—people who signed up for the company’s $7-a-month service before today will take advantage of the offer. Zipcar offered cars for 50 percent off on election day in 2012, and it more than doubled its reservations compared to a typical Tuesday.

And then there are those who want us to forget it all.

Encouraging viewers to “escape the election,” The Weather Channel will counter-program the final installment of the most bizarre and contentious presidential race in years.

Starting at 3 p.m ET the channel will air a marathon which will include the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, and calming weather video and scenery ever caught on tape.

“This world is a beautiful and magical place after all. So go vote America and check out election results, but if you want a break from the pundits, pontifications, predictions and politics… turn to Weather. It’s going to be huge.”

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And Hefty has wiped the web clean of smutty political ads over the past few days Hefty ads, reading “This political ad has been trashed thanks to Hefty,” have replaced all banner ads and potential political ads on a handful of websites including CNN’s homepage. Hefty also purchased ad space on Fox News, AOL and the Huffington Post’s politics page. Check it out but only after you vote:

No More BlackBerry for POTUS

There are two people left on this earth with a BlackBerry – me and President Obama. It looks like I will be the only one in a minute or two.

POTUS has used a BlackBerry since the moment he took office. However, he’s finally moving on with less than a year left in his term. The Commander-in-Chief recently told Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon that he was given a new (and currently unnamed) smartphone this year to replace his BlackBerry. The President notes that his phone is so locked down “for security reasons” that he can’t call, play music, send texts or take pictures.

Yikes.

Take a look at him discussing it below at the 2.17 mark. Oh and #foreverBlackBerry.