Subway Breaks its Own Record for Earliest PR Crisis with “Tunagate” Lawsuit

Congratulations to the team at Subway, which managed to break its own record for earliest PR crisis. A lawsuit filed against the ubiquitous sandwich chain in mid-January alleges that the tuna it advertises is “not tuna and not even fish.”

Tim Carman at The Washington Post reports, “The star ingredient, according to the lawsuit, is ‘made from anything but tuna.’ Based on independent lab tests of ‘multiple samples’ taken from Subway locations in California, the ‘tuna is ‘a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna,’ according to the complaint.”

Subway has a long and distinguished history of PR crises, including:

‘How Alvin the Beagle Helped Usher in a Democratic Senate’

“The dog had a lot of work to do. He was co-starring in a political ad that had to showcase the candidate’s good-natured warmth. But the ad also needed to deflect an onslaught of racialized attacks without engaging them directly, and to convey to white voters in Georgia that the Black pastor who led Ebenezer Baptist Church could represent them, too,” Shane Goldmacher from The New York Times reports.

“’The entire ad screams that I am a Black candidate whom white people ought not be afraid of,’ said Hakeem Jefferson, a professor of political science at Stanford, who studies race, stigma and politics in America.”

“While there is no singular factor responsible for victories this narrow — Mr. Warnock won by less than 100,000 votes out of roughly 4.5 million and the other new Democratic senator, Jon Ossoff, won by even less — there is bipartisan agreement that the beagle played an outsized role in cutting through the clutter in two contests that broke every Senate spending record.”

‘Visit Denver’ Optimistic About the City Hosting Conventions Again in Second Half of 2021

Ed Sealover at the Denver Business Journal reports: “Visit Denver President & CEO Richard Scharf said he believes the organization can salvage most of the large conventions and meetings planned for Denver in the second half of 2021 following the state’s release of the Colorado Convention Center from serving as an alternate hospital site.”

“Event planners and hotel officials have greeted that news warmly, even if its effects aren’t expected to play out immediately. Scharf estimated that the events canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 — both those to be held in the convention center and in nearby hotels — cost the city 450,000 visitors and $800 million in economic impact.”

“But the biggest impact of the state’s decision is that Visit Denver can work with convention planners who have yet to cancel events scheduled for the facility in the summer and fall to assure them they can move forward, Scharf said in an interview Thursday. That likely means that the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market — a show that previously was estimated to generate a $57 million annual economic impact — could stay on the calendar in June and that other gatherings of large professional associations and consumer shows may move forward.”

The Apple Commercial that Ended the Company’s Super Bowl Run

Most people are familiar with Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl ad that helped launch the company. Today, however, is the anniversary of a much more ignominious event. It was 36 years ago today that the sequel to “1984” – titled “Lemmings” – premiered during the 1985 Super Bowl.

Never heard of the sequel? You are not alone. While the “1984” ad is widely considered one of the best and most effective in television history, the “Lemmimgs” ad went down in flames. A senior Macintosh executive quit on the spot after seeing the ad, and Apple was accused of exploiting the Holocaust to sell computers. The ad ended a short-lived era – it was the last time Apple aired a commercial during a Super Bowl.

Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Comms Director Resigns After 2 Weeks

Two weeks after being named communications director for Rep. Lauren Boebert, Ben Goldey has resigned. Lachlan Markay at Axios reports:

“Ben Goldey’s resignation cited last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which followed efforts by Boebert and lawmakers to block certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The Hill veteran’s departure highlights the deep divide among Republicans over President Trump’s conduct.”

“Goldey said in a statement to Axios: ‘Following the events of January 6th, I’ve decided to part ways with the office. I wish her and the people of Colorado’s Third District the best.’ … Boebert is a strident Trump supporter firmly on the right flank of the House GOP caucus. She was clear about her views during her campaign, but they have suddenly become politically toxic following last week’s attack.” …

“Goldey, by contrast, has a more establishment pedigree. He was the press secretary at the Department of Interior until this year, and previously worked for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

Great Moments in Repeating the Negative

“Saying that I have ‘contributed nothing of value to support the ideals of either the Benson Center or CU Boulder’ is preposterous …,” said John Eastman, CU Boulder’s visiting conservative scholar, to the Boulder Daily Camera.

Professor Eastman caused controversy for his remarks at the Washington, D.C., rally for President Trump prior to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. His spring classes at CU Boulder have since been cancelled due to low enrollment.

Novitas Communications Promotes Krista Crouch to VP

Denver-based Novitas Communications has promoted Krista Crouch to vice president. Crouch has more than 15 years of experience in communications, public relations and digital media, and she manages clients in a number of industries, including finance, healthcare, tourism, government, oil and gas, and associations.  

Crouch has worked with media internationally including top-tier media outlets in the U.S. such as the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, CNN, ABC News, Bloomberg, Reuters, Cheddar, and many other national and local media outlets.

Chaotic Year Undermines Trust in Businesses, Government & Media, According to Annual Edelman Report

Edelman has released its 2021 Trust Barometer report and the bottom line appears to be that the COVID-19 pandemic, among other 2020 challenges, has sent trust in government, business and media on the fun part of a rollercoaster ride.

“Trust declined across all institutions… . Only 59% of respondents said they trust businesses to do the right thing; 57% felt that way about the government and 56% about NGOs. Only half of those queried said they trust the media to do the right thing,” reports Thomas Moore at PRWeek.

Edelman CEO Richard Edelman cited three takeaways:

“The first is that business has become the most trusted institution. That is a significant change from May when we did the spring trust update and when we saw the government leading the pack for the first time. Now government has fallen off significantly.”

Second, “the data shows people distrust the information they’re being given from most sources. … You saw the result of [this] last week in the Capitol being stormed with false hopes. You also see it in vaccine hesitancy.”

“The third story here is the real fall from grace of the U.S. and China. The Chinese because of being the place where COVID-19 started but also because they kept the story under wraps and people were irritated by that. And then the United States, because we’re the worst country in the world in terms of managing the pandemic, and we’ve lost a lot of ground that way.”

CU Denver Names Marie Williams Vice Chancellor for Communications

The University of Colorado Denver named Marie Williams its new vice chancellor for communications. From the announcement:

“Williams has served in senior leadership roles at public relations agencies and within higher education, most recently as vice president of marketing and communications at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. At CU Denver, Williams will lead the 18-person University Communications team responsible for external and internal communications, media relations, marketing, brand strategy, social media, and web development.”

“Williams began her public relations career in editor roles at the University of Pennsylvania (her alma mater) and Temple University. For the next six years, she worked in the private sector, in communication and marketing positions for Pennsylvania companies, including PECO Energy and The Pep Boys. From 2007-18, Williams held leadership roles for the education practices at two New York-based public relations agencies, serving as senior managing director at RF|Binder Partners and senior vice president at Edelman. Most recently, at Saint Joseph’s, she transformed the Office of Marketing and Communications into an in-house creative and strategic consultancy that has enhanced the visibility and reputation of the university.”

NBC Hockey Analyst Quietly Dropped Following String of Insensitive Statements

Emily Kaplan at ESPN: “NHL analyst Mike Milbury is out at NBC after 14 years with the network. The news came on Monday as NBC unveiled its game and studio commentary lineup for the 2021 NHL season, and Milbury was conspicuously absent.” […]

“Milbury, the former Boston Bruins and New York Islanders coach and GM, was pulled from NBC’s Stanley Cup playoff coverage in August after his on-air comments about players not being as distracted in the league’s bubble because no women were there in the league’s bubble.” […]

“Milbury had been flagged for insensitive comments several times during his tenure at NBC, including other instances last season. In a qualifying-round game between Pittsburgh and Montreal, Milbury said playing in an empty arena was like being at a college women’s hockey game.”

Advertising Powerhouse Crispin Porter + Bogusky Latest Marketing Firm to Leave Boulder for Denver

Dan Kika at the Boulder Daily Camera: “Crispin Porter + Bogusky is in the process of moving from Gunbarrel to a 20,000-square-foot office in McGregor Square in Denver’s LoDo District, according to a statement from the company. The move is expected to end in July.” […]

“Doyle Albee, the president and CEO of Boulder-based public relations agency MAPR, said CP+B’s move isn’t a large immediate loss for Boulder because the majority of the agency’s accounts are national. … He pointed out that Denver and other cities in Boulder County can offer far lower costs of living while providing the Front Range lifestyle that companies in the region leverage for recruiting employees.”

“’I’m not worried about Boulder becoming a ghost town by any stretch … but it underscores the fact that we are facing some very serious economic and lifestyle issues here that we need to proactively address on a daily basis, or we’re going to see more of this in the long run,’ Albee said.”