Southwest Airlines was founded 52 years ago with the idea of democratizing air travel. It combined high reliability, low fares and a kitschy attitude to become the nation’s favorite airline. With taglines like, “You are now free to move about the country,” and its unique open seating model, Southwest projected a sense that it was different, that it had cracked the code on how to run an airline that was both fun and competent.
Boulder closed its main library after it found meth residue in its bathrooms. Officials conducted the testing because employees had exhibited “symptoms consistent with a potential exposure to meth residue or fumes.”
Boulder office building owner W.W. Reynolds Cos. says Twitter owes it nearly $200,000 in back rent. Under new owner Elon Musk, Twitter has been in cash-saving mode by not paying rents for some of its offices across the country.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3.7 billion to settle allegations that it charged illegal fees and interest on auto loans and mortgages, among other illegal actions.
Cherry Creek High School head football coach and KOA NewsRadio Denver Broncos announcer Dave Loganwon his fourth straight 5A state championship, giving him his 11th state title. That makes him the most accomplished high school football coach in Colorado history.
Empower Field is getting a $100 million renovation that includes a jumbo-tron that is 70% larger than the current one. That will allow fans in the stadium to see replays of all the Russell Wilson sacks with far greater clarity.
Pandemics may come and go, but there is one thing we can all count on year after year: dumb decisions that result in PR disasters.
Usually, we have to count on bureaucratic corporations to lead the way, but this year we had a number of individuals rise up to show us how to truly ruin reputations. Kanye West looked at Uber and said, “Not so fast.” Elon Musk told Facebook to hold his beer. And Will Smith, well, few corporations ever managed to ruin 35 years’ worth of hard work in five, globally televised seconds.
So, who had the biggest PR disasters in 2022?
UVALDE POLICE DEPARTMENT/TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY/U.S. BORDER PATROL The response to the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs reminded us of the life-saving impact one or two heroic people can have. That makes the situation at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, that much more heart-wrenching. In Uvalde, 376 Uvalde Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Border Patrol officers descended on the school, and for 76 minutes not one of them did a damn thing to put an end to a shooting spree that killed 19 elementary school kids and two teachers.
ELON MUSK Riding a string of successful companies including PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk was considered one of the world’s smartest business executives. Then his ego tricked him into buying Twitter for $44 billion, a price he later acknowledged was far too high. Once backed into that corner, you’d expect him to slash headcount and try to improve profitability at Twitter for a few quarters and then flip it.
Well, he did half of that. Musk cut headcount but then he took about every step he could to alienate advertisers – who provide about 90% of Twitter’s revenue – by eliminating the verified “blue-check” program and offering amnesty to hate-speech purveyors. Musk may have offered the best perspective on his Twitter strategy when he Tweeted, “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start with a large one.”
FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 The FIFA Men’s World Cup is the largest, most-watched sporting event in the world, and the month-long tournament will deliver an estimated $7.5 billion in revenue to FIFA. It is a juggernaut, and you might expect that it would be run by savvy executives. Alas, the 2022 World Cup has been known more for self-inflicted wounds than any of the action on the pitch.
ALTITUDE SPORTS It has now been 40 months since Comcast– and DISH-subscribing fans could watch the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche in our local market. Someone needs to tell Stan Kroenke and Altitude Sports to stop the madness.
DENVER BRONCOS The 2022 Denver Broncos were a slow-motion trainwreck, and a reminder of the power of setting expectations. With a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive system and a new quarterback, the Broncos could have easily tried to get people excited about the progress they would make in year two. Instead, they raised fans’ hopes for year one and saw the backlash start at about minute 59 of their first game (an inexplicable 64-yard field goal attempt that missed).
No one carried the weight of the miserable season more than QB Russell Wilson, head coach Nathaniel Hackett and GM George Paton. Wilson has always been an odd duck, but that personality trait gets amplified (and mocked) when you are losing. Whether it was an oddly timed “Let’s Ride” or bragging about working out on the plane ride to London, 2022 was the year that Wilson was exposed as an average quarterback and a below-average teammate.
As bad as Wilson’s year was, it was worse for Nathaniel Hackett. The first-year head coach made so many unforced errors in his NFL debut that he may never be able to recover. Conventional wisdom quickly became that he was in over his head and rumors swirled that he would be the fifth NFL coach in history to be fired midway through his first season. Even former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl wanted him gone.
And as bad as Hackett’s season was, the Bronco who had the worst year was GM George Paton. He was the man who hired Hackett and not only traded two first round and two second round draft picks to acquire Wilson, but then signed him to a five-year, $245 million extension before he had even thrown a pass for the Broncos. That decision looks worse and worse each week.
FRANK AZAR Slip-and-fall attorney Frank Azar had quite the year. In January, he sued an accountant that he hired to correct tax returns created by a different accountant whom he had also sued. He alleged negligence in both cases. In March, Azar sued an Alabama-based law firm alleging it was stealing clients through a deceptive Google ads campaign.
DANIEL SNYDER/WASHINGTON COMMANDERS Dumpster fires would take offense at being compared to the NFL’s Washington Commanders. Since owner Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, it has endured losing season after losing season, but it has been a recent string of allegations related to workplace harassment, financial improprieties and targeting his fellow owners that have kept the team in the headlines.
Snyder was forced to relinquish operational control of team after a Washington Post investigation included allegations from 40 women who had been harassed or discriminated against by Snyder or other male executives. Other headlines focused on allegations that he had cheated the NFL and the IRS by underreporting ticket sales so he could keep a larger portion of the team’s money.
It was an ESPN report in October, though, that sent the future of Snyder’s ownership into a tailspin. That report said that Snyder had used private investigators to dig up dirt on his fellow owners to use against them if they tried to force him to sell the team. Confident the scheme would protect him, he reportedly told a colleague, “They can’t f— with me.”
WILL SMITH Legendary investor Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” and no one proved that adage correct more than actor Will Smith. Smith spent a career building a reputation as a charming, likeable actor who could deliver audiences to anything he starred in. Like Tom Hanks, Smith recalled the era of Jimmy Stewart, a beloved actor who had a way of playing everyman characters in compelling ways. And then the 2022 Oscars happened.
In the slap heard ‘round the world, Smith inexplicably climbed on-stage and struck host Chris Rock. It was a surreal moment that instantly redefined Smith’s image, undoing 35 years’ worth of reputation-building. Smith immediately had two projects tabled, “Fast & Loose” and “Bad Boys 4,” and the summer release of his already-completed film “Emancipation” was delayed. Meanwhile, Smith’s Q Score, – an industry metric of likeability among the general public – dropped from 39 to 24, a nearly 40% decline.
CNN+ CNN invested $300 million to launch CNN+, a subscriber-based streaming news service? Thirty-five days later, they shut it down.
BILL MURRAY Rumors of the actor’sbullying and harassing behavior have circulated for years, but it hit a tipping point in 2022 when production of the film “Being Mortal” was suspended following reports of Murray’s sexual assault against a female production assistant. That news opened a floodgate, and actors including Geena Davis, Seth Green, Lucy Liu, Anjelica Huston, Richard Dreyfuss and Sean Young all shared stories of Murray’s bullying behavior. His troubled personality hasn’t done much to slow his film career to this point, but his legacy ultimately may not be exclusively what he put on film.
BRETT FAVRE Given that Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre’s NFL playing career ended with a “d— pic” scandal, it’s hardly surprising that he’d find himself in a tough spot again. And, unfortunately for Favre, he violated Crisis Communications 101, which is to get all the bad news out at once as quickly as possible.
FTX/SAM BANKMAN-FRIED Crypto-bro and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was a late addition to the list, but he definitely earned his spot by losing more than $8 billion in customer funds, tanking his personal net worth from an estimated $20 billion last year to $100,000, and finally being arrested for fraud. Bankman-Fried claimed the company was the victim of changing economic conditions, but FTX’s interim CEO told lawmakers that the company collapsed because of “old fashioned embezzlement.” Either way, everyone can agree on Bankman-Fried’s general assessment: “I f—— up.“
ABC News suspended morning show “GMA3” anchors Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes after the two disclosed a romantic relationship. The pair are married to other people and the relationship is rumored to significantly predate their disclosure.
Pandemic service cuts and increasing violence has caused a 21% drop in customer satisfaction with RTD. The drop means RTD CEO Debra Johnson will receive no performance raise this year.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spent $428,000 to relocate 205 prairie chickens from Kansas to Colorado in an attempt to prevent extinction, and it is not working.
Ryan Montoya, the meth-addled driver who hit and killed cyclist Gwen Inglis, was ordered to pay $353 million to Inglis’ family. The family acknowledges they will see little, if anything, of that verdict, but said they appreciate that the publicity could serve a a deterrent to other drivers.
ABC has pulled the plug on its “Christmas with the Backstreet Boys” TV special after member Nick Carter was accused of sexual battery.
Jill Petersen, the National MS Society’s Director of Employee Engagement & Communications, has joined the board of SafeHouse Denver. She joins GroundFloor Media | CenterTable’sLauren Noser, who also recently joined the board.
Residents of Craig, Alaska are grabbing free Yeti coolers that are washing up along the town’s shores. A container ship traveling from South Korea to Canada dropped 1,600 of them recently during bad weather.
CNN has begun the process of notifying hundreds of employees that they are being laid off, the result of a confluence of economic issues, including cord-cutting, a weakening global economic forecast and the network’s recent merger with Discovery.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is playing defense after The Washington Post published a photo from 1957 that shows a then-15-year-old Jones standing behind a group of white students threatening and blocking six Black students from entering his public high school.