Tag Archives: social responsibility

Peloton Recalls Treadmills

Peloton has been riding high for the past year as gyms closed and people took their fitness routines into their homes. Peloton stock and sales are at an all-time high. To be clear though, high sales volume has given the company problems with supply chain and manufacturing during this time period. It even has a recall due to problems with broken pedals on its bikes which caused injuries.

However, a more recent and critical problem for Peloton has been a number of cases of injury to adults, children, or pets being pulled underneath the rear of the treadmill. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been at least 72 reports of adults, children, and pets being pulled under the treadmill, including 29 reports of injuries to children and one death of a six-year-old child. Serious issues indeed.

The recall notice was issued by Peloton, but only after an urgent warning from the CPSC that forced the company to change its initial stance about the problems. Peloton is now offering a full refund for owners of the treadmill.

What should companies due about hazards to consumers?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the components of public relations and crisis communications.
  2. Show video about the problem: https://youtu.be/RiAjg4RXLMQ
  3. View Peloton’s statement on its website: https://www.onepeloton.com/press/articles/tread-and-tread-recall
  4. Show the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice for Peloton: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/peloton-recalls-tread-plus-treadmills-after-one-child-died-and-more-than-70-incidents
  5. Show additional recall notice for a separate Peloton recall: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/peloton-recalls-tread-treadmills-due-to-risk-of-injury
  6. What are the basic components and steps to handle crisis communications?
  7. How did Peloton initially handle the problems? What did they later do?
  8. Divide students into teams and have each team select a company/product. Then, have teams determine the steps to take during a crisis for that company.

Source: CBS; CNBC; New York Times; other news sources

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Brands Embrace Earth Day 2021

The world’s first Earth Day events started in 1970; it was the 51st anniversary this year on April 22nd. Supporting environmental protection activities, Earth Day includes numerous events held around the globe. Last year more than 100 million people participated in what has been called one of the largest mass mobilizations ever! The climate demands our attention.

Many companies are using creative ways to get our focus on Mother Earth this year. Restaurant Panera is recognizing the growing use of biking during the pandemic and how Panera fits in by copying its signature bread bowl shape into a bicycle basket. The bike is olive green and the basket is bread-brown, making it easy to cart around foods and goods. Panera was the first chain to label its food to show carbon footprint as well as nutrition and calorie counts. According to the company “if every Panera customer ordered a Cool Food item on April 22 it would – compared to the average American diet – reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 1,100 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.”

Another Earth Day event was burger chain Carl’s Jr. teaming up with Beyond Meat at one of Carl’s Jr. Los Angeles restaurant. It gave away free plant-based burgers and offered faux meat sandwiches for $5 via an email promotion. Carl’s Jr. already carries a Beyond Meat burger patty and has sold more than 12 million Beyond Meat burgers. The event was intended to draw in younger, flexitarian-diet customers. According to a University of Michigan research study, Beyond Meats “products need 46% less energy, generate 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than a standard beef patty, and have 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use.”

How will you embrace the environment?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Quiz students on their knowledge of Earth Day: https://www.earthday.org/
  2. View video from the first Earth Day from CBS News: https://youtu.be/WbwC281uzUs
  3. Additional videos on YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkWeBkq4KGaN7N8PMWgfOLw
  4. Discuss the promotions being done by companies such as Panera and Carl’s Jr.,
  5. Panera video: https://youtu.be/uqcWXh2WqOc
  6. Beyond Meat’s site: https://www.beyondmeat.com/whats-new/go-beyond-this-earth-day/
  7. Students could also quickly research Earth Day news stories on their laptops and phones.
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop an Earth Day advertisement for a product of their choice.
  9. What are the key messages?

Source:  Ad Week

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More Branding Needs to be Changed

All marketers know that branding is hard to do, and expensive to change. Thus, many brands are reluctant to revise their logos, names, and images. After all, if it’s worked for decades; why go through the trouble and expense to change it now?

The short answer to that question is that society and the world changes (sometimes drastically) and therefore companies have a responsibility to respond to and recognize those events and make changes in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.

A recent topic is that of the use of the name “Jeep Cherokee.” The Chief of the Cherokee Nation has strongly stated that it is wrong of the company to use the Cherokee name to sell cars, and has asked Jeep to discontinue the name.  The Cherokee name belongs to a nation of peoples and they contend that using it for peddling products diminishes it. Jeep has sold the Cherokee vehicle since 1974 and retired it in the early 2000s, then reviving it in 2014. It is a popular model and sold more than 200,000 units last year.

This topic brings to mind the issue of the (former) Washington Redskins NFL team. The team has agreed to drop the name and logo after years of protest, as have MLB team Cleveland Indians. Similar protests last year were made against brands including Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s. Land O’Lakes already dropped its image of a Native American woman from its packaging.

Brands matter.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This is a tough topic, but discuss racism in business with students. Ask them their views.
  2. Poll students: What products, services, and brands use racist stereotypes?
  3. Discuss the issue of the Jeep Cherokee and show video: https://youtu.be/D6ZrRbS-yxs
  4. Show Jeep Cherokee site: https://www.jeep.com/cherokee.html
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team reimagine a new name and message for the company.
  6. How would they overhaul the image if they were in charge of marketing at the company?
  7. Show all the student solutions and debrief the exercise.

Source: Associated Press; CNN News; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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