Tag Archives: social responsibility

Stereotypes and Sports: Chief Wahoo to be Eliminated

Names and brands represent a significant investment for all organizations, no matter if they are corporations, private organizations, higher education, or athletics. Brands and logos are often loved and worn proudly by consumers. However, just as often a logo can be seen as offensive to individuals and groups.

Case in point: The Cleveland Indians recently announced that it will stop using the Chief Wahoo logo beginning in 2019. Major League Baseball’s position is that the logo is no longer appropriate. Some team supporters view the logo as traditional (Chief Wahoo has been used since 1948), while opposition characterizes the name as offensive to Native Americans.

Cleveland is not the only athletic team that has been criticized for its logo. A few years ago the University of North Dakota officially dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname in favor of the Fighting Hawks. However, other teams, such as the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Braves (with the “Tomahawk chop” motion), have resisted pressure to change.

Some team supporters view the logo as traditional (Chief Wahoo has been used since 1948), while opposition characterizes the name as offensive to Native Americans. Regardless, logos have the power to motivate consumers, or to repel them.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show a video about the issue faced by the Cleveland Indians: https://nyti.ms/2Guw0H2
  2. What are the essential elements of this issue?
  3. What have been the experiences of other athletic teams in similar situations?
  4. Have students research the number of athletic teams with nicknames that could be detrimental to a race or ethnical group.
  5. What is the impact of a new logo on sales of apparel?
  6. How important is brand to athletic teams?

Source: Waldstein, D. (29, January, 2018). Cleveland Indians will abandon Chief Wahoo logo next year. New York Times.

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Net Neutrality and the Whopper

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the net neutrality rules that guided businesses providing Internet access. The revised ruling potentially allows Internet Service Providers (ISP) to charge different rates for different Internet speeds and services. In essence, ISPs can charge customers more to get faster Internet speeds. And, customers who pay less would receive slower Internet speeds.

Unfortunately, net neutrality can be complicated to explain and is not always fully understood by many consumers. Enter: Burger King, using a Whopper to help explain how net neutrality works.

Whoppers? Those aren’t very technical. No, but they are a product that consumers expect to receive quickly (no matter what the price is). What would happen if a customer had to pay more to get a Whopper quickly? Or, as Burger King explains, what is the mpbs* for the service, and how much is a customer willing to pay for it (*Making Burgers per Second)?

Burger King set up a hidden camera at a restaurant location and watched how real customers reacted to having to wait longer for their burgers as employees deliberately slowed down their services. Customers could choose from slow mbps ($4.99/Whopper), fast mbps ($12.99), or hyper-fast mbps ($25.99). The results were hysterical, and revealing.

How much are you willing to pay for your Whopper (and Internet access)? The video clearly hit home with customers and went viral, racking up nearly 16 million views in less than a week!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by asking students to define net neutrality.
  2. Ask them about the recent FCC decision on net neutrality?
  3. What are student opinions about it? For or against, and why?
  4. Show the Burger King video:


  1. After viewing the video, did anyone change their opinion?
  2. In teams, have students determine other topics that are difficult to explain and comprehend. (Ex: tariffs, quotas, etc.)
  3. Have each team develop an explanation using metaphors (such as Burger King did) to help consumers understand the implications of these complicated topics.

Source:  Nudd, T. (24 Jan., 2018). Burger King deviously explains net neutrality by making people wait longer for their Whoppers. Ad Week.

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My Special Aflac Duck Helps Kids with Cancer

Aflac’s cute mascot, the talking duck, does more than just try to sell insurance. The company has been committed to caring and treating children with cancer for more than 22 years; donating $120 million over that period. In its latest effort, Aflac worked with digital design and story-telling firm Sproutel to create My Special Aflac Duck, giving a stuffed toy the robotic treatment to help the duck comfort children’s cancer patients and make a positive change in the lives of children with childhood cancer.

There are more than 11,000 cases of childhood cancer annually in the U.S., and on average, children go through 1,000 days of treatment. More than most patients, children need emotional support to go through treatments, to communicate their feelings to caregivers, and not feel helpless in the face of cancer.

My Special Aflac Duck integrates social robotics into the field of medicine. With four patents pending (and a design award from 2018 CES), My Special Aflac Duck gives kids with cancer the chance to find joy by playing with it; helps kids engage by playing soothing sounds and calming heartbeats; and helps kids connect by being able to treat Duck just like they are being treated with IV and medicine. A special backpack provided with Duck includes an IV and emoji badges that help communicate feelings.

Duck has five touch sensors that help it connect with children through its facial expressions, sounds, and movements. It also has a special app that lets kids design special places to go to virtually where they can find comfort and joy.

Quack in support of helping children with cancer!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss how companies can be socially responsible in their communities.
  2. Show The Verge’s video story about the Duck: https://youtu.be/LQy-qn_JMoM
  3. Show Aflac’s Web site for Duck: https://aflacchildhoodcancer.org/
  4. Sproutel’s Web site contains additional information on Jerry the Bear (diabetes care for children): https://www.sproutel.com/
  5. In teams, have students select an illness that affects youths. What could they develop to help these young patients cope with their illnesses?
  6. What companies could partner with them on the initiative. Why?
  7. Finally, as an option, there is a 10-minute TED Talk by the founder of Sproutel about how play can help children to deal with illness: https://www.ted.com/watch/ted-institute/ted-ibm/aaron-horowitz-can-a-teddybear-change-how-children-relate-to-their-own-disease

Source:  Hutchinson, M. (8 Jan. 2018) Robotic duck aims to help kids cope with cancer. Associated Press.

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