Tag Archives: crisis communication

Naomi Osaka and Celebrity Endorsements

There is no doubt that celebrities make powerful brand ambassadors. In particular, professional athletes command a great deal of attention in the media and with consumers.  People tend to idolize these athletes and emulate them to the extent of buying products from the brands that they endorse (hey, if I thought Naomi Osaka’s brand of racquet would help my tennis game – I’d buy it!). The problem is that if an athlete fails to keep public goodwill, the brands might falter. Therefore, there are behavior contracts that guide and govern athletes with respect to brands.

One professional athlete recently in the news is Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka. At the French Open, Osaka won her match but declined to take part in a mandatory post-match news conference, thereby incurring an automatic $15,000 fine. Fines for athletes are not uncommon. At most major sports events players are contractually obligated to face the press following play. Osaka declined to meet with press and stated that she was willing to pay any fines. She cited caring for her mental health and depression as her reasons for not holding press conferences, stating that she “often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health.”

But, the Roland-Garros tournament officials took it a step further than a fine and threatened Osaka with increased penalties plus possible suspension from tennis if she failed to comply. Osaka subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Osaka’s celebrity status has served her well in tennis. She has more than 2.2 million Twitter followers, and has earned more than $60 million in prize money and endorsements, including brands Nike, Nissan, GoDaddy, Levi’s, and more. She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and the highest-paid female athlete ever. Osaka is also an activist who has taken high-profile stands on BLM and other causes. All of these factors make her a valuable endorser to brands.

Among the questions following Osaka’s withdrawal are how to respect and support athletes’ mental wellness, and how should brands respond? (To date, all of Osaka’s sponsors are staying with her.)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, media, decoding, and receiver.
  2. Discuss the importance of celebrities in brand endorsements.
  3. Poll students: How are purchases influenced by athletes and celebrities?
  4. What is their opinion of Naomi Osaka’s move at the French Open?
  5. What are brands responsibilities to endorsers? To consumers?
  6. Have students list all of the celebrities/brands pairings they can remember.
  7. What makes these pairings successful? Unsuccessful?
  8. Divide students into team. Have each team select a product or brand and then find a celebrity who could successfully endorse the brand.
  9. Debrief: Poll students about their opinions about the suggested pairings. Why were the celebrities selected?

Source: CNBC; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Why Can’t Ketchup, well… Catchup?

It’s happened again – one minute consumers are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times, and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Everything changes.

But this time, instead of earlier toilet paper shortages, the product causing big problems is ketchup! Especially those small packets that are loved by fast-food customers everywhere.

The culprit, once again, causing this supply chain saga is Covid-19. Yes, the pandemic appears to have influenced every facet of consumer behavior. The main shift was caused by closed restaurants that drove consumers to the fast-food drive-in restaurants and home cooking, rather than dine-in restaurant options. It also turned many former dine-in restaurants into takeout places, making ketchup a commodity included in more food orders.

Ketchup packet prices have risen 13% since last January and the market share of packets (sachets) has eclipsed that of tabletop bottles. Ketchup is the most consumed sauce at U.S. restaurants, and even more is eaten at home. The pandemic has increased overall retail ketchup sales in the U.S. by 15% to more than $1 billion. Kraft Heinz leads the market with nearly 70% of the total U.S. market.

Kraft is responding to the shortage and plans to open two new manufacturing lines and increase production by about 25%. It has also innovated a no-touch ketchup dispenser to use at restaurants to help meet safety concerns caused by Covid.

Pass the ketchup please.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
  2. Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
  3. Show a news video about the shortage: https://youtu.be/4A7ObtFfYrE
  4. Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
  5.  What can be done to better produce and manage products?
  6. Poll students: What are their predictions for the next shortage?

Source: New York Times; Reuters News; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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What does Gen Z Want from Brands Right Now?

“May you live in interesting times.” Is this a blessing or a curse? On the one hand, “interesting times” are full of action and movement (fun!), and of course some drama (not fun). On the other hand, “interesting times” means that we are not bored with a daily routine and our eyes are opened to different situations (fun and not fun).

This year is certainly a year of interesting times with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc in the world. Businesses closed, schools closed, no graduations, proms, or commencement ceremonies, and the daily worry about contracting Covid-19. Now add the social upheaval about policing, riots, and confronting racism, and our stress levels ratchets up to a very high level!

What do consumers want to hear from companies and brands right now? And, specifically, what does Generation Z want to hear? A recent survey of younger consumers aged 13 – 25 revealed that these young people want to see brands make a difference and explain how they are protecting employees, as well as protecting consumers. Here are some of the findings about the type of communications and contents that Gen Z wants:

  • 88% – Brands should be communicating about Covid-19.
  • 59% – Want information about how brands are keeping employees safe and financially protected.
  • 47% – Want positive and uplifting stories.
  • 55% – Want information about how brands are helping local communities.
  • 48% – Want resources to help consumers like accessing mental and health support.
  • 59% – Brands should donate profits from consumer purchases to relief efforts.

Basically, Gen Z wants to see authentic and sincere statements. Gen Z wants to see that the brands they buy are working to give back to local communities.

What messages are important to you?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about a brand’s responsibility to the consumers in today’s environment?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team identify three messages that they would like to see from a brand. Consider giving each team a different brand to focus on for the messages.
  3. Put the messages together and compare the results of each group.
  4. Show the research infographic: https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/infographic-what-gen-z-wants-to-see-from-brands-during-a-pandemic/?utm_content=adoftheday&utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=FirstThingsFirst_Newsletter_200615054639&lyt_id=194931
  5. How closely does this match the students’ concerns?

Source: Ad Week

 

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