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Westlake Legal Group > Corporate Social Responsibility

What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition

Westlake Legal Group 15twitter01-facebookJumbo What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition United States Politics and Government twitter Social Media Politics and Government Political Advertising Online Advertising Dorsey, Jack Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — The Alzheimer’s Association, a health care advocacy group, recently spent $84,000 on ad campaigns on Twitter. One campaign had a singular purpose: to persuade people to ask Congress for larger investments in medical research for the disease.

Now the nonprofit is worried about whether those messages will still fly. That’s because Twitter announced last month that it would soon prohibit all political ads from its platform — and, depending on whom you ask, pushing lawmakers for money for medical research could be seen as a political cause.

The Alzheimer’s Association was so concerned that it contacted Twitter this month to express misgivings about the political ads ban. “We’re not really sure how it’s going to impact us,” said Mike Lynch, a spokesman for the group. “A lot of what we do is issue advertising, so it really depends on how they define political advertising.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is one of many nonprofits and organizations that have put pressure on Twitter over its prohibition of political ads, which is set to start next Friday. The problem is that while campaign ads from candidates are clearly political, other messages that deal with hot-button issues such as abortion, school choice and climate change may or may not cross that line.

That has set off a scramble within Twitter to define what constitutes a political ad. Twitter’s advertising executives have held meetings in Washington with public relations and free speech groups to debate the situation. And the company has fended off public criticism about the ban, including from Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is running for president. Last week, Ms. Warren said Twitter’s new ad policy would prevent climate advocacy groups from holding corporations accountable.

On Friday, after weeks of discussions, Twitter rolled out a formal definition of what it considers to be a political ad. Under the official policy, Twitter said ads that discuss elections, candidates, parties and other overtly political content would be prohibited. For ads that refer to causes generally and that are placed by organizations and not politicians or political candidates, Twitter said it would place restrictions on them but not ban them outright.

The restrictions included removing advertisers’ ability to target specific audiences, a practice known as “micro targeting.” The ads also cannot mention specific legislation, Twitter said.

“It’s a big change for us as a company but one we believe is going to make our service, and political advertising in the world, better,” Vijaya Gadde, who leads Twitter’s legal, policy, trust and safety divisions, said in a call on Friday to introduce the policy.

Twitter’s unveiling of its political ads policy did little to mollify its critics, such as conservatives who have said the barring of such ads is an attempt to suppress right-wing voices.

“Whatever they come up with, we fully expect Twitter to continue to censor, block, or to incur ‘bugs’ that will unfairly silence President Trump and conservatives,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.

Some super PACs and political groups said Twitter’s decision disrupted the political advertising strategy and budget they had already mapped out for the 2020 election.

“Changing the rules halfway through is really dangerous,” said Danielle Butterfield, the director of paid media for Priorities USA, one of the largest Democratic super PACs. “A lot of organizations are going to have to look back at their strategy and figure out how to adjust, especially in the middle of the cycle.”

She said her group had used ads on Twitter to flag stories about the economy under the Trump administration to local reporters in swing states, a key part of its in-state strategy.

Twitter finds itself in a delicate situation because its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, decided last month that the social media service would no longer host political ads. In a series of tweets on Oct. 30, Mr. Dorsey said political ads presented challenges to civic discourse and added that he believed the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

His declaration contrasted with that of Twitter’s rival, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last month that he planned to allow political ads on the social network — even if they are inaccurate or contain lies — because such ads are newsworthy and should remain for free speech reasons. Ms. Warren and others have pilloried Mr. Zuckerberg for his stance, saying he is running a “disinformation-for-profit machine.”

Mr. Dorsey, though, was immediately praised by politicians — including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York — for taking a stand against political ads.

At the time, Mr. Dorsey defined political ads as those sponsored by candidates or that discussed political issues. He said some ads, such as those promoting voter registration, would be permitted as exceptions. Mr. Dorsey, who has since been traveling in Africa, was unavailable for comment on Friday.

His pronouncements quickly kicked up a ruckus among nonprofits, lobbyists and others, who said they feared they would no longer be able to run issue-based ads on Twitter because it was unclear if their messages would be considered political.

“The policy would tilt the playing field,” said Eric Pooley, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group. “Nonprofit organizations need to be able to communicate to the public. That’s what we do.”

The American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group, said that Mr. Dorsey’s announcement had created uncertainties and that it was being unfairly swept up in Twitter’s efforts to clean up its platform. Affiliates of Planned Parenthood added that they already struggled to get ads approved on social media and worried about a ban.

“Digital advertisement is a cost-effective way for small nonprofits to reach their audience. The question becomes, where do we turn next?” said Emma Corbett, the communications director of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, which represents Planned Parenthood in New York State.

Twitter said it held discussions about the policy with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Affairs Council, a nonpartisan organization that advises companies on their lobbying and digital advocacy efforts, last week.

Nick DeSarno, the director of digital and policy communications at the Public Affairs Council, said Twitter was trying to split the difference between limiting politicians from placing ads while allowing advocacy organizations to continue raising awareness about political topics.

“While Twitter’s potential new issues ads policy is more permissive than a total ban, it’s still going to be a challenge for groups who are trying to drive political or legislative change using the platform,” he said.

Twitter’s limitations on targeted ads will prevent advertisers from sending political messages to residents of specific ZIP codes or cities; instead, they can broadcast their content only at a state level. The company said it would also prevent advertisers from targeting their messages based on political leanings or interests of users such as “conservative,” “liberal” or “political elections.”

“We very much believe that cause-based advertising has value, and can help drive public conversation around important topics,” said Del Harvey, the vice president of trust and safety at Twitter. “But we still don’t think it should be used with the sort of primary goal of driving political or judicial or legislative or regulatory outcomes.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

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The Week the C.E.O.s Got Smacked

One wanted to “elevate the world’s consciousness.”

Another aspired to “make a bigger difference around the world.”

A third, speaking of climate change, said, “We owe it to our children to find the right answers.”

This soaring rhetoric did not emanate from motivational speakers or religious leaders. It was uttered by wealthy chief executives hoping to curry favor with a public desperate to be inspired.

Ultimately, their idealism counted for little. Over the past week, the three men behind these lofty sentiments discovered that high-mindedness didn’t protect them from the harsh realities of running a business.

Adam Neumann stepped down as chief executive of WeWork after a botched attempt to take the company public. Devin Wenig left his role as chief of eBay after the company’s board grew impatient with poor performance. And Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen, was charged with stock market manipulation and misleading investors. Mr. Diess remains in his job, but all week, smartphone push alerts seemed to ping with the news of executive heads rolling.

Those three executives joined the recently departed chiefs of Juul, Nissan, comScore and HSBC as reminders that at the end of the trading day, corporate chieftains are there to make shareholders money.

That seemingly rudimentary premise — that chief executives are responsible for delivering strong financial returns — has been easy to overlook in recent years. As the business world has engaged more in social and political debates, some C.E.O.s have come to believe that it is no longer enough to simply run a profit and loss statement. Instead, they are trying to inspire employees, combat climate change and take stands on moral issues, too.

“We’re in a world where we need leaders to improve the state of the world, not just the state of the bottom line,” Marc Benioff, the co-chief executive of Salesforce, said in an interview. “Every C.E.O. has this on their mind right now.”

Mr. Benioff was at the vanguard of this shift. In 2015, Salesforce was among the most vocal of the companies protesting a proposed Indiana law that he and other opponents said would permit discrimination against gay people. Since then, brands have begun taking stands more often. Soon after President Trump took office, Google, Microsoft and others protested his immigration policies. That summer, a group of chief executives who had agreed to advise the president disbanded their councils after Mr. Trump blamed “many sides” for the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Last month, the Business Roundtable, a group of influential chief executives, sought to redefine the role of business in society. And after a series of mass shootings, Walmart stepped into the national gun debate by limiting ammunition sales and calling on Congress to increase background checks.

“Companies, and by extension their management teams and their C.E.O.s, have a moral obligation to try to be a force for good,” Dan Schulman, the chief executive of PayPal, recently said. “I don’t think there’s any way that we can shirk that responsibility, and I don’t think there’s any way to fully stand away from the culture wars around us.”

There’s a catch, of course. Before C.E.O.s can change the world, they need to satisfy investors. “You have to deliver performance in your business,” Mr. Benioff said. “That’s table stakes.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 28CEOS-neumann-articleLarge The Week the C.E.O.s Got Smacked WeWork Companies Inc Wenig, Devin N Volkswagen AG Visa Inc Peloton Neumann, Adam Juul Labs Inc Initial Public Offerings Galloway, Scott Etsy Inc Crane, David W (1959- ) Corporate Social Responsibility Boards of Directors Appointments and Executive Changes

Adam Neumann stepped down as C.E.O. of WeWork after a botched attempt to take the company public.CreditCole Wilson for The New York Times

That’s been easier to do of late. With the stock markets up sharply in recent years and venture capital flowing freely, some companies with mediocre — or even dismal — performance have been able to get by with little more than a good narrative.

But today, as the stock market wobbles and steeply valued start-ups face discerning public investors for the first time, not every company with an inspirational story is standing up to scrutiny.

Mr. Neumann found that out swiftly, when WeWork’s I.P.O. discussions with investors indicated the company might be valued at just $15 billion — a staggering erasure of value since January, when the co-working venture was said to be worth $47 billion. WeWork, known formally as the We Company, became something of a laughingstock in investing circles after issuing a prospectus that began, “We dedicate this to the energy of we — greater than any one of us, but inside all of us.”

“People’s radar for yoga babble is on high alert right now,” said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University.

And what is yoga babble? “It’s as if my yoga instructor went into investor relations,” Mr. Galloway said.

Devin Wenig left his role as chief executive of eBay after the company’s board grew impatient with poor performance.CreditJacob Kepler/Bloomberg

Another company that is testing the public market’s appetite for aspirational rhetoric and nonexistent profits is Peloton, which makes an internet-connected exercise bike and other gear.

Peloton bills itself as “an innovation company transforming the lives of people around the world.” The hope is that investors will focus more on that mission statement, and less on the fact that it lost $196 million in the last full year.

So far, it’s not working. Peloton started trading on Thursday and promptly fell 11 percent. Wall Street, it seems, is becoming less susceptible to the tech industry’s reality distortion field.

“Peloton is talking about delivering happiness and connecting people,” Mr. Galloway said. “No: You sell exercise equipment.”

But Peloton is hardly alone. Many of the most prominent technology companies today position themselves not so much as best-in-class operators in their category, but as virtual revolutions unto themselves.

Dropbox, an online storage company, says its mission is to “unleash the world’s creative energy by designing a more enlightened way of working.” Lyft, the ride-sharing app, says it aims to “improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.” Uber claims to “ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.”

Spotify says it aims to “unlock the potential of human creativity.” Not to be outdone, Snap says that its social media app will “improve the way people live and communicate.”

Since going public over the last two years, the stock in all five of those companies has plummeted.

“Companies need a mission statement that is concrete enough to describe what they will do, as well as what they won’t do,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer. “If you promise too much, you risk having something that’s meaningless.”

The fact that utopian mission statements are now so commonplace stems, at least in part, from the fact that company founders are lionized, no matter their antics.

A generation ago, many founders were regarded as brilliant if crazy savants — product geniuses who weren’t to be trusted with operating a real company. The prevailing wisdom was that once a company was mature or went public, a seasoned executive should be brought in to run the show.

That changed after the success of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon, all of which had founders who managed to turn their creations into world-eating behemoths. Now, tech-company founders are practically untouchable.

“Founders are now assigned this Christ-like association,” Mr. Galloway said. He added that this is not just a question of perception — tech founders often possess powerful voting rights that secure their control of the companies. “They’re given way too much rope to hang themselves and everyone around them.”

Witness Uber, Theranos and WeWork. Their charismatic founders raised billions of dollars and won over A-list investors before crumbling under pressure.

“We’re in a world where we need leaders to improve the state of the world, not just state of the bottom line,” Marc Benioff said.CreditEric Risberg/Associated Press

This shouldn’t have been hard to predict. Though several big tech companies have been similarly idealistic — think Google (“don’t be evil”) and Facebook (“make the world more open and connected”) — they are also wildly profitable.

When, on the other hand, aspirational rhetoric is paired with middling financial performance, there is rarely a happy ending.

The online marketplace Etsy went public in 2015. A quirky company from the outset, Etsy was helmed by Chad Dickerson, a beloved leader who prioritized generous employee benefits and earned the company B-Corp status, signifying a high level of social and environmental responsibility.

“I thought a lot about what, in addition to building shareholder value, a company can contribute to the world,” Mr. Dickerson said.

He didn’t have long to ruminate on such matters. Once Etsy was public, its stock started to fall. Soon, private equity firms were circling and activist investors were agitating for change. The Etsy board, which had been supportive of Mr. Dickerson’s agenda until then, reversed course, and he was unceremoniously fired.

“It’s not Milton Friedman’s 1970s shareholder value world anymore,” Mr. Dickerson said. “Except when it is.”

Last year, Nike made Colin Kaepernick the face of its Just Do It 30th anniversary campaign. “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” the ad read.

Mr. Kaepernick, the former N.F.L. quarterback who became a social justice icon for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, was a risky choice. Some customers called for a boycott and burned their shoes. Mr. Trump went after the company on Twitter, writing, “What was Nike thinking?” In the days after Nike unveiled its partnership with Mr. Kaepernick, the stock fell, losing $3.3 billion in market value.

For a moment, it looked like Nike had made a real sacrifice, putting its values on the line and paying for it with real money.

Yet after the initial furor died down, the stock rebounded. Online sales at Nike jumped 31 percent in the days after the Kaepernick ad debuted. Analysts upgraded the stock, which reached new highs.

It turns out Nike hadn’t sacrificed anything. One of the great marketers of the last 50 years, the company clearly knew what it was doing. Signing Mr. Kaepernick was a marketing tactic, and in the year since, it has done virtually nothing more with the star.

“There’s a great risk of this type of language being employed in a cyclical and opportunistic way,” Mr. Dickerson said. “I worry that these displays of conviction might actually be a lack of conviction, that it’s actually just based on market analytics.”

Sometimes efforts to support a higher purpose fail doubly, coming off as both opportunistic and ham-handed.

Johnson & Johnson introduced a Listerine mouthwash bottle sheathed in a rainbow flag to celebrate gay pride, drawing ridicule from the L.G.B.T.Q. community. Starbucks has clumsily waded into race relations more than once.

McDonald’s turned its golden arches logo upside down for International Women’s Day last year, “in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants.” Online critics pounced, saying that if the fast food chain valued women so much, it should give them better pay and benefits.

“All of these companies finding their woke values is not a function of their principles,” Mr. Galloway said. “It’s a function of shareholder value.”

And then there are the companies that have decided that it is better to say nothing at all.

Blackstone, the private equity firm, did not sign on to the Business Roundtable statement.

Indra Nooyi, the former chief executive of PepsiCo, said she was willing to engage in third-rail debates only if they were relevant to the company’s broader mission. “Not all companies need to speak up about everything,” she said. “If the lofty rhetoric is not linked inextricably to the core business, you should question it.”

And Visa, the credit card processor, has assiduously stayed out of the social debates roiling the business world. “Our job is not to be dividing the country,” Al Kelly, Visa’s chief executive, said recently in an interview. “Our job is not to lecture people about what to do or what to buy. And the minute you give on guns, then what about soda? What about fur coats? What about birth control pills? What about? What about? What about?”

Mr. Kelly has reason to be worried. After all, when C.E.O.s do push for real, meaningful change, the judgment can be swift and harsh.

In 2015, David Crane was chief executive of NRG, one of the country’s largest power producers — and one of its largest polluters. Mr. Crane believed that NRG had a moral and business imperative to transition to renewable sources of power generation.

His vision for a clean energy company made Mr. Crane the talk of the industry, and animated idealistic employees. But when Mr. Crane asked the board to endorse a plan for NRG to be carbon neutral by 2040, they balked. One board member took him aside and said, “Are you crazy? You can’t say that.”

That director was right. When it became clear to investors that Mr. Crane was serious about his plans, NRG stock started to fall, and Mr. Crane was out.

In the end, it didn’t matter that Mr. Crane believed he was on the right side of history, or that his staff was behind him. “The fact that employees liked it was overwhelmed by the fact that the board didn’t like it, and investors didn’t care,” he said. (Mr. Crane, though, may have simply been ahead of his time. Since he lost his job, the cost of renewable energy has continued to decline, and several large utilities have pledged to become carbon neutral.)

Mr. Dickerson can relate. For all his efforts building Etsy’s culture and advancing environmental causes, his investors just weren’t that interested.

“At the end of the day, it’s still mostly about stock price if you’re a public company C.E.O.,” Mr. Dickerson said. “When the rubber meets the road and you’re sitting in the room with investors, they are looking at spreadsheets and asking you about what the numbers are going to look like.”

It is a lesson that many start-ups are just starting to learn. WeWork, Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Snap and Dropbox all had high hopes of becoming public market darlings. Instead, they’ve become dogs.

To some, the weak public appetite for idealistic, money-losing companies is a failure of imagination. Even on his way out, Mr. Neumann, who will keep a position as nonexecutive chairman, said his belief in the transformative power of WeWork had never been more intense.

“We have an opportunity to expand our global business to more people than ever before,” he said. “I have never believed in our business, our people and our future more.”

For others, however, the tepid response from public investors is a refreshing sign of good judgment.

“The market is prone to fits of sanity,” Mr. Galloway said. “We’re having that right now.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Simply Unacceptable’: 145 Executives Demand Senate Action on Gun Violence

In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of 145 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times.

The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.

The debate and the decision to sign — or not sign — are a case study in how chief executives must weigh their own views and the political risks to their businesses.

“To a certain extent, these C.E.O.s are putting their businesses on the line here, given how politically charged this is,” said Chip Bergh, chief executive of Levi Strauss, a company whose denim jeans have long been a symbol of America. Mr. Bergh spent the last several days trying to cajole his peers into joining him and gun control advocates like Everytown, which is funded in part by Michael Bloomberg. “Business leaders are not afraid to get engaged now,” he added. “C.E.O.s are wired to take action on things that are going to impact their business and gun violence is impacting everybody’s business now.”

Mr. Bergh said he was encouraged by the conversations. “The tide is turning,” he said, citing a spate of recent polls that show a majority of Americans in both parties support background checks and red flag laws. “People were starting to be much more open-minded,” he said, even when the discussion didn’t conclude with a signature.

Yet he is also bracing for a backlash. “This has been spun by the N.R.A. as we’re trying to repeal the Second Amendment,” Mr. Bergh said. “Nothing is further from the truth.”

The movement has gained momentum since last month, when a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso killed 22 people. A day later, nine people were shot and killed in Dayton, Ohio.

“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the business leaders wrote. “We need our lawmakers to support common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these.”

In addition to the expanded background checks, they are pressing the government to let federal courts issue temporary orders keeping guns out of the hands of people considered at risk of violence, under what is known as a red-flag law.

A week ago, Walmart, the largest retailer and employer in the country, wrote its own letter to Congress, pushing for a debate over reauthorizing an assault weapons ban. It also announced that it was removing certain ammunition and guns from its shelves and would discourage “open carry” in its stores. Other retailers followed suit by changing their open-carry policies, including Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and the Wegmans grocery chain.

Read more from Andrew Ross Sorkin on the gun debate
Walmart’s C.E.O. Steps Into the Gun Debate. Other C.E.O.s Should Follow.

Sept. 3, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_138861399_eb31fe7d-2756-4d09-a85d-b147d7d9f84e-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘Simply Unacceptable’: 145 Executives Demand Senate Action on Gun Violence United States Politics and Government Uber Technologies Inc Salesforce.com Inc mass shootings Law and Legislation gun control Google Inc firearms Facebook Inc Debates (Political) Corporate Social Responsibility Bergh, Charles V
Dear Walmart C.E.O.: You Have the Power to Curb Gun Violence. Do It.

Aug. 5, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 05db-sorkin-guns2-threeByTwoSmallAt2X ‘Simply Unacceptable’: 145 Executives Demand Senate Action on Gun Violence United States Politics and Government Uber Technologies Inc Salesforce.com Inc mass shootings Law and Legislation gun control Google Inc firearms Facebook Inc Debates (Political) Corporate Social Responsibility Bergh, Charles V

The letter signers on Thursday include the leaders of Airbnb, the Gap, Pinterest, Lyft, the Brookfield Property Group and Royal Caribbean.

Missing from the list, however, are some of America’s biggest financial and technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, some of which debated internally whether to sign the letter.

Two companies that signed may raise eyebrows in Washington: Thrive Capital, whose founder, Joshua Kushner, is the brother of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, and Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah.

The letter is the latest example of the business community’s stepping into a sensitive political area — sometimes reluctantly — during the Trump presidency. Business leaders have criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration policy and his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. On guns, the president has on several occasions offered support for stronger firearms policies before stepping away.

Some of the letter signers plan to lobby lawmakers in Washington, but it is unclear how much money, if any, the companies may devote to this issue.

Some executives signed on without hesitation. Others mulled it, often creating a raucous debate inside their offices and among their boards of directors, only to decide that the political risk was too high. More than a half-dozen executives spoke about their deliberations on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of conversations.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook did not sign, although he told colleagues and peers that he agreed with stricter background checks, two people involved in the conversation said. With Facebook under federal scrutiny — and contending with a drumbeat of criticism from Republicans who contend that the company’s platform silences conservative voices — Mr. Zuckerberg has decided that activism on this issue would only intensify the spotlight on the company, these people said. Others inside Facebook made the case that it was a moral responsibility to press for more responsible gun sales laws.

Similar concerns were raised by the leadership at Google, whose YouTube unit was the site of a shooting last year. Google recently announced an internal policy that would make it hard for the company to consider signing the letter. That policy includes this line: “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, signed. His company’s policy bans guns from its vehicles, either for drivers or passengers. Once he signed, Lyft, Uber’s main rival, signed as well.

Several executives said one of the biggest practical worries was whether taking such a stance would lead to in-store confrontations with angry customers carrying guns. Would they be putting their employees in danger or even just in an uncomfortable discussion about a divisive issue?

Even banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, which both publicly distanced themselves from gunmakers this year by ending lending and banking relationships with manufacturers, declined to sign the letter. After they made their positions public this year, the banks were rebuked by Republican lawmakers. Louisiana passed a law preventing the banks from working on bond offerings for the state.

“I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens,” the state’s treasurer, John Schroder, said at the time. “No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights.”

For better or worse, business leaders are increasingly carving out positions on social issues. It’s not new — and the Hobby Lobby fight against the contraceptive provision of the Affordable Care Act shows us that such positioning does not confine itself to progressive causes — but it is growing.

In some cases, those maneuvers have happened out of necessity, as when top executives could not count on a strong response from Washington after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That touched off a flurry of calls between some of the country’s top finance executives about how to handle a conference being hosted by Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince had been implicated in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But over the last three years, businesses have become engaged on social issues like immigration, climate change and race in a way that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. On Thursday, businesses turned to the problem of gun violence.

The letter suggested that background checks on all gun sales were a “common-sense solution with overwhelming public support.” A number of polls have put backing for such policies above 90 percent.

The market is demanding action — and businesses are listening.

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145 Business Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Gun Violence

Westlake Legal Group 12DB-SORKIN-01-facebookJumbo 145 Business Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Gun Violence United States Politics and Government Uber Technologies Inc Salesforce.com Inc mass shootings Law and Legislation gun control Google Inc firearms Facebook Inc Debates (Political) Corporate Social Responsibility Bergh, Charles V

In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of 145 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times.

The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.

The debate and the decision to sign — or not sign — are a case study in how chief executives must weigh their own views and the political risks to their businesses.

“To a certain extent, these C.E.O.s are putting their businesses on the line here, given how politically charged this is,” said Chip Bergh, chief executive of Levi Strauss, a company whose denim jeans have long been a symbol of America. Mr. Bergh spent the last several days trying to cajole his peers into joining him and gun control advocates like Everytown, which is funded in part by Michael Bloomberg. “Business leaders are not afraid to get engaged now,” he added. “C.E.O.s are wired to take action on things that are going to impact their business and gun violence is impacting everybody’s business now.”

Mr. Bergh said he was encouraged by the conversations. “The tide is turning,” he said, citing a spate of recent polls that show a majority of Americans in both parties support background checks and red flag laws. “People were starting to be much more open-minded,” he said, even when the discussion didn’t conclude with a signature.

Yet he is also bracing for a backlash. “This has been spun by the N.R.A. as we’re trying to repeal the Second Amendment,” Mr. Bergh said. “Nothing is further from the truth.”

The movement has gained momentum since last month, when a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso killed 22 people. A day later, nine people were shot and killed in Dayton, Ohio.

“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the business leaders wrote. “We need our lawmakers to support common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these.”

In addition to the expanded background checks, they are pressing the government to let federal courts issue temporary orders keeping guns out of the hands of people considered at risk of violence, under what is known as a red-flag law.

A week ago, Walmart, the largest retailer and employer in the country, wrote its own letter to Congress, pushing for a debate over reauthorizing an assault weapons ban. It also announced that it was removing certain ammunition and guns from its shelves and would discourage “open carry” in its stores. Other retailers followed suit by changing their open-carry policies, including Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and the Wegmans grocery chain.

The letter signers on Thursday include the leaders of Airbnb, the Gap, Pinterest, Lyft, the Brookfield Property Group and Royal Caribbean.

Missing from the list, however, are some of America’s biggest financial and technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, some of which debated internally whether to sign the letter.

Two companies that signed may raise eyebrows in Washington: Thrive Capital, whose founder, Joshua Kushner, is the brother of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, and Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah.

The letter is the latest example of the business community’s stepping into a sensitive political area — sometimes reluctantly — during the Trump presidency. Business leaders have criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration policy and his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. On guns, the president has on several occasions offered support for stronger firearms policies before stepping away.

Some of the letter signers plan to lobby lawmakers in Washington, but it is unclear how much money, if any, the companies may devote to this issue.

Some executives signed on without hesitation. Others mulled it, often creating a raucous debate inside their offices and among their boards of directors, only to decide that the political risk was too high. More than a half-dozen executives spoke about their deliberations on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of conversations.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook did not sign, although he told colleagues and peers that he agreed with stricter background checks, two people involved in the conversation said. With Facebook under federal scrutiny — and contending with a drumbeat of criticism from Republicans who contend that the company’s platform silences conservative voices — Mr. Zuckerberg has decided that activism on this issue would only intensify the spotlight on the company, these people said. Others inside Facebook made the case that it was a moral responsibility to press for more responsible gun sales laws.

Similar concerns were raised by the leadership at Google, whose YouTube unit was the site of a shooting last year. Google recently announced an internal policy that would make it hard for the company to consider signing the letter. That policy includes this line: “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, signed. His company’s policy bans guns from its vehicles, either for drivers or passengers. Once he signed, Lyft, Uber’s main rival, signed as well.

Several executives said one of the biggest practical worries was whether taking such a stance would lead to in-store confrontations with angry customers carrying guns. Would they be putting their employees in danger or even just in an uncomfortable discussion about a divisive issue?

Even banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, which both publicly distanced themselves from gunmakers this year by ending lending and banking relationships with manufacturers, declined to sign the letter. After they made their positions public this year, the banks were rebuked by Republican lawmakers. Louisiana passed a law preventing the banks from working on bond offerings for the state.

“I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens,” the state’s treasurer, John Schroder, said at the time. “No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights.”

For better or worse, business leaders are increasingly carving out positions on social issues. It’s not new — and the Hobby Lobby fight against the contraceptive provision of the Affordable Care Act shows us that such positioning does not confine itself to progressive causes — but it is growing.

In some cases, those maneuvers have happened out of necessity, as when top executives could not count on a strong response from Washington after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That touched off a flurry of calls between some of the country’s top finance executives about how to handle a conference being hosted by Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince had been implicated in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But over the last three years, businesses have become engaged on social issues like immigration, climate change and race in a way that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. On Thursday, businesses turned to the problem of gun violence.

The letter suggested that background checks on all gun sales were a “common-sense solution with overwhelming public support.” A number of polls have put backing for such policies above 90 percent.

The market is demanding action — and businesses are listening.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

145 Business Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Gun Violence

Westlake Legal Group 12DB-SORKIN-01-facebookJumbo 145 Business Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Gun Violence United States Politics and Government Uber Technologies Inc Salesforce.com Inc mass shootings Law and Legislation gun control Google Inc firearms Facebook Inc Debates (Political) Corporate Social Responsibility Bergh, Charles V

In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of 145 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times.

The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.

The debate and the decision to sign — or not sign — are a case study in how chief executives must weigh their own views and the political risks to their businesses.

“To a certain extent, these C.E.O.s are putting their businesses on the line here, given how politically charged this is,” said Chip Bergh, chief executive of Levi Strauss, a company whose denim jeans have long been a symbol of America. Mr. Bergh spent the last several days trying to cajole his peers into joining him and gun control advocates like Everytown, which is funded in part by Michael Bloomberg. “Business leaders are not afraid to get engaged now,” he added. “C.E.O.s are wired to take action on things that are going to impact their business and gun violence is impacting everybody’s business now.”

Mr. Bergh said he was encouraged by the conversations. “The tide is turning,” he said, citing a spate of recent polls that show a majority of Americans in both parties support background checks and red flag laws. “People were starting to be much more open-minded,” he said, even when the discussion didn’t conclude with a signature.

Yet he is also bracing for a backlash. “This has been spun by the N.R.A. as we’re trying to repeal the Second Amendment,” Mr. Bergh said. “Nothing is further from the truth.”

The movement has gained momentum since last month, when a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso killed 22 people. A day later, nine people were shot and killed in Dayton, Ohio.

“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the business leaders wrote. “We need our lawmakers to support common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these.”

In addition to the expanded background checks, they are pressing the government to let federal courts issue temporary orders keeping guns out of the hands of people considered at risk of violence, under what is known as a red-flag law.

A week ago, Walmart, the largest retailer and employer in the country, wrote its own letter to Congress, pushing for a debate over reauthorizing an assault weapons ban. It also announced that it was removing certain ammunition and guns from its shelves and would discourage “open carry” in its stores. Other retailers followed suit by changing their open-carry policies, including Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and the Wegmans grocery chain.

The letter signers on Thursday include the leaders of Airbnb, the Gap, Pinterest, Lyft, the Brookfield Property Group and Royal Caribbean.

Missing from the list, however, are some of America’s biggest financial and technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, some of which debated internally whether to sign the letter.

Two companies that signed may raise eyebrows in Washington: Thrive Capital, whose founder, Joshua Kushner, is the brother of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, and Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah.

The letter is the latest example of the business community’s stepping into a sensitive political area — sometimes reluctantly — during the Trump presidency. Business leaders have criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration policy and his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. On guns, the president has on several occasions offered support for stronger firearms policies before stepping away.

Some of the letter signers plan to lobby lawmakers in Washington, but it is unclear how much money, if any, the companies may devote to this issue.

Some executives signed on without hesitation. Others mulled it, often creating a raucous debate inside their offices and among their boards of directors, only to decide that the political risk was too high. More than a half-dozen executives spoke about their deliberations on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of conversations.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook did not sign, although he told colleagues and peers that he agreed with stricter background checks, two people involved in the conversation said. With Facebook under federal scrutiny — and contending with a drumbeat of criticism from Republicans who contend that the company’s platform silences conservative voices — Mr. Zuckerberg has decided that activism on this issue would only intensify the spotlight on the company, these people said. Others inside Facebook made the case that it was a moral responsibility to press for more responsible gun sales laws.

Similar concerns were raised by the leadership at Google, whose YouTube unit was the site of a shooting last year. Google recently announced an internal policy that would make it hard for the company to consider signing the letter. That policy includes this line: “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, signed. His company’s policy bans guns from its vehicles, either for drivers or passengers. Once he signed, Lyft, Uber’s main rival, signed as well.

Several executives said one of the biggest practical worries was whether taking such a stance would lead to in-store confrontations with angry customers carrying guns. Would they be putting their employees in danger or even just in an uncomfortable discussion about a divisive issue?

Even banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, which both publicly distanced themselves from gunmakers this year by ending lending and banking relationships with manufacturers, declined to sign the letter. After they made their positions public this year, the banks were rebuked by Republican lawmakers. Louisiana passed a law preventing the banks from working on bond offerings for the state.

“I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens,” the state’s treasurer, John Schroder, said at the time. “No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights.”

For better or worse, business leaders are increasingly carving out positions on social issues. It’s not new — and the Hobby Lobby fight against the contraceptive provision of the Affordable Care Act shows us that such positioning does not confine itself to progressive causes — but it is growing.

In some cases, those maneuvers have happened out of necessity, as when top executives could not count on a strong response from Washington after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That touched off a flurry of calls between some of the country’s top finance executives about how to handle a conference being hosted by Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince had been implicated in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But over the last three years, businesses have become engaged on social issues like immigration, climate change and race in a way that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. On Thursday, businesses turned to the problem of gun violence.

The letter suggested that background checks on all gun sales were a “common-sense solution with overwhelming public support.” A number of polls have put backing for such policies above 90 percent.

The market is demanding action — and businesses are listening.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Business Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Gun Violence

Westlake Legal Group 12DB-SORKIN-01-facebookJumbo Business Leaders Call on Congress to Act on Gun Violence United States Politics and Government Uber Technologies Inc Salesforce.com Inc mass shootings Law and Legislation gun control Google Inc firearms Facebook Inc Debates (Political) Corporate Social Responsibility Bergh, Charles V

In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of 145 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times.

The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.

The debate and the decision to sign — or not sign — are a case study in how chief executives must weigh their own views and the political risks to their businesses.

“To a certain extent, these C.E.O.s are putting their businesses on the line here, given how politically charged this is,” said Chip Bergh, chief executive of Levi Strauss, a company whose denim jeans have long been a symbol of America. Mr. Bergh spent the last several days trying to cajole his peers into joining him and gun control advocates like Everytown, which is funded in part by Michael Bloomberg. “Business leaders are not afraid to get engaged now,” he added. “C.E.O.s are wired to take action on things that are going to impact their business and gun violence is impacting everybody’s business now.”

Mr. Bergh said he was encouraged by the conversations. “The tide is turning,” he said, citing a spate of recent polls that show a majority of Americans in both parties support background checks and red flag laws. “People were starting to be much more open-minded,” he said, even when the discussion didn’t conclude with a signature.

Yet he is also bracing for a backlash. “This has been spun by the N.R.A. as we’re trying to repeal the Second Amendment,” Mr. Bergh said. “Nothing is further from the truth.”

The movement has gained momentum since last month, when a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso killed 22 people. A day later, nine people were shot and killed in Dayton, Ohio.

“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the business leaders wrote. “We need our lawmakers to support common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these.”

In addition to the expanded background checks, they are pressing the government to let federal courts issue temporary orders keeping guns out of the hands of people considered at risk of violence, under what is known as a red-flag law.

A week ago, Walmart, the largest retailer and employer in the country, wrote its own letter to Congress, pushing for a debate over reauthorizing an assault weapons ban. It also announced that it was removing certain ammunition and guns from its shelves and would discourage “open carry” in its stores. Other retailers followed suit by changing their open-carry policies, including Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and the Wegmans grocery chain.

The letter signers on Thursday include the leaders of Airbnb, the Gap, Pinterest, Lyft, the Brookfield Property Group and Royal Caribbean.

Missing from the list, however, are some of America’s biggest financial and technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, some of which debated internally whether to sign the letter.

Two companies that signed may raise eyebrows in Washington: Thrive Capital, whose founder, Joshua Kushner, is the brother of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, and Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah.

The letter is the latest example of the business community’s stepping into a sensitive political area — sometimes reluctantly — during the Trump presidency. Business leaders have criticized Mr. Trump’s immigration policy and his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. On guns, the president has on several occasions offered support for stronger firearms policies before stepping away.

Some of the letter signers plan to lobby lawmakers in Washington, but it is unclear how much money, if any, the companies may devote to this issue.

Some executives signed on without hesitation. Others mulled it, often creating a raucous debate inside their offices and among their boards of directors, only to decide that the political risk was too high. More than a half-dozen executives spoke about their deliberations on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of conversations.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook did not sign, although he told colleagues and peers that he agreed with stricter background checks, two people involved in the conversation said. With Facebook under federal scrutiny — and contending with a drumbeat of criticism from Republicans who contend that the company’s platform silences conservative voices — Mr. Zuckerberg has decided that activism on this issue would only intensify the spotlight on the company, these people said. Others inside Facebook made the case that it was a moral responsibility to press for more responsible gun sales laws.

Similar concerns were raised by the leadership at Google, whose YouTube unit was the site of a shooting last year. Google recently announced an internal policy that would make it hard for the company to consider signing the letter. That policy includes this line: “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, signed. His company’s policy bans guns from its vehicles, either for drivers or passengers. Once he signed, Lyft, Uber’s main rival, signed as well.

Several executives said one of the biggest practical worries was whether taking such a stance would lead to in-store confrontations with angry customers carrying guns. Would they be putting their employees in danger or even just in an uncomfortable discussion about a divisive issue?

Even banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, which both publicly distanced themselves from gunmakers this year by ending lending and banking relationships with manufacturers, declined to sign the letter. After they made their positions public this year, the banks were rebuked by Republican lawmakers. Louisiana passed a law preventing the banks from working on bond offerings for the state.

“I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens,” the state’s treasurer, John Schroder, said at the time. “No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights.”

For better or worse, business leaders are increasingly carving out positions on social issues. It’s not new — and the Hobby Lobby fight against the contraceptive provision of the Affordable Care Act shows us that such positioning does not confine itself to progressive causes — but it is growing.

In some cases, those maneuvers have happened out of necessity, as when top executives could not count on a strong response from Washington after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That touched off a flurry of calls between some of the country’s top finance executives about how to handle a conference being hosted by Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince had been implicated in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But over the last three years, businesses have become engaged on social issues like immigration, climate change and race in a way that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. On Thursday, businesses turned to the problem of gun violence.

The letter suggested that background checks on all gun sales were a “common-sense solution with overwhelming public support.” A number of polls have put backing for such policies above 90 percent.

The market is demanding action — and businesses are listening.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Shareholder Value Is No Longer Everything, Top C.E.O.s Say

Westlake Legal Group merlin_153331899_54c43208-c075-4034-95c8-dc0197821696-facebookJumbo Shareholder Value Is No Longer Everything, Top C.E.O.s Say Corporate Social Responsibility Business Roundtable

For major corporations, shareholders used to be everything. No more.

A coalition of executives representing some of America’s largest companies issued a statement on Monday that redefines “the purpose of a corporation.” No longer should the primary job of a corporation be to advance the interests of shareholders, the coalition, known as the Business Roundtable, said in a statement. Now, companies must also invest in employees, deliver value to customers and deal fairly and ethically with suppliers.

The statement was signed by nearly 200 chief executives, including the leaders of Apple, American Airlines, Accenture, AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing and BlackRock.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” the statement said. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”

This article will be updated.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Nike and Kaepernick Back in Culture Wars After ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker Furor

Nike planned to celebrate the Fourth of July with a new sneaker, a special edition of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike featuring that most patriotic of symbols: an American flag.

But rather than including a flag with 50 stars as part of its design, the sneaker’s heel featured the 13-star model, a design associated with the Revolutionary War, the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross and, for some people, a painful history of oppression and racism.

On Tuesday, Nike canceled the release of the sneaker, again plunging headlong into the nation’s culture wars.

The abrupt cancellation came after Colin Kaepernick, the former National Football League quarterback and social justice activist, privately criticized the design to Nike, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction.

Mr. Kaepernick, who signed a lucrative deal to serve as a Nike brand ambassador last year, expressed the concern to the company that the Betsy Ross flag had been co-opted by groups espousing racist ideologies, the person said.

Sandra Carreon-John, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement on Tuesday that Nike had made the decision to “halt distribution” of the sneaker “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.” The company’s initial acknowledgment of the recall hours earlier did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

While people all across the political spectrum debated the issue on social media, Gov. Doug Ducey, Republican of Arizona, announced on Twitter that he would pull back state support for a Nike facility that would have employed more than 500 people. Nike had proposed to open the $184 million plant in Goodyear, Ariz.

“Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision,” Mr. Ducey said in a series of tweets, adding that Nike “has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”

The governor, who had previously called the factory “an exciting project,” also said: “Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”

Susan Marie, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Commerce Authority, said the economic development agency was withdrawing the offer of a grant to Nike, worth up to $1 million, “at the governor’s discretion.”

In a statement Tuesday, the City of Goodyear called the furor “a difficult situation” but said its offer of financial incentives to Nike still stood, as elected officials from New Mexico sought to capitalize on the uncertainty and lure the plant across the state line.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the cancellation of the sneaker and Mr. Kaepernick’s involvement.

Betsy Ross is widely credited with creating the first American flag at George Washington’s behest, though most scholars dispute that story as legend, according to the Library of Congress.

To many, the flag is merely a relic, a design that shows up at historical sites like Colonial Williamsburg and on government insignia, like the seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“People just see it as a symbol of early America and the founding of our nation,” said Lisa Moulder, the director of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, which draws more than 1,000 visitors a day. “In Betsy’s time, the flag was strictly utilitarian, a military tool.”

But the flag has, at least in recent years, cropped up in association with racist ideologies. When the Ku Klux Klan tried to recruit new followers in upstate New York last year, its fliers featured a Klansman flanked by the Confederate flag and the Betsy Ross flag. Similar imagery was reportedly included in a letter sent by the Klan to a college newspaper in Washington in 2017.

In 2016, a school superintendent in Michigan apologized after students waved the 13-star flag alongside a Trump political banner at a football game, writing in a letter to parents that the flag had come “to some symbolizes exclusion and hate.” And according to a 2013 investigation by The Albany Herald in Georgia, at least some local Klan units were required to use either that flag or the Confederate flag at ritualistic meetings.

Prominent conservatives argued that Nike’s cancellation of the shoe was unpatriotic.

“It’s a good thing Nike only wants to sell sneakers to people who hate the American flag,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.

Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Just so you know how this works now: Nothing can happen in America anymore if Colin Kaepernick doesn’t like it.”

Mr. Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, became a face of the social justice movement in 2016 after he began kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest police violence against black people and racial inequality in the United States.

His acts of protest inspired similar demonstrations from other professional athletes, but they came under fire from politicians including President Trump, who argued that they were disrespecting the country and the military, and some fans boycotted the N.F.L.

After receiving no offers to join with a team after the 2016 season, Mr. Kaepernick accused the N.F.L. of trying to keep him and a former teammate, Eric Reid, out of the league. In February, the two reached a surprise settlement with the N.F.L. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 02xp-nike-articleLarge Nike and Kaepernick Back in Culture Wars After ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker Furor United States National Anthem Protests (2016- ) United States Social Media Sneakers NIKE Inc National Football League Kaepernick, Colin football Flags, Emblems and Insignia Ducey, Doug (1964- ) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Corporate Social Responsibility Arizona

A Nike billboard in Manhattan featuring Colin Kaepernick. The company made Mr. Kaepernick the face of its “Just Do It” campaign last year.CreditAlba Vigaray/EPA, via Shutterstock

As part of his lucrative endorsement arrangement with Nike, Mr. Kaepernick appeared prominently in an advertising campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan. In the wake of the ad, some consumers called for a boycott of Nike, while others destroyed their Nike products.

But analysts said that Nike had not suffered financially from its association with an athlete who had become a symbol of the so-called Resistance movement.

“Pretty much every metric you can look at was positive for Nike — their social media mentions went up, their sales rose the week after, and they won a bunch of awards for the ad campaign,” said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for the NPD Group. “They are clearly aligned with their core customer base — the millennial and the Gen Z consumer — and if they have alienated others, those are not the folks who buy a lot of Nikes.”

The decision to cancel the special Air Max shoe is a sign of Mr. Kaepernick’s power at Nike, said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Nike is signaling that they’re going to go all-in on this road, whatever the consequences are, even if it’s going to get some consumers to burn their shoes on Twitter,” he said.

But it can be risky for corporations to ally themselves with divisive brand ambassadors.

“When you get into the game of commodifying social issues in a time of ultra-volatile global political sensitivity, you better create a department in your organization that does nothing all day and night but monitors and understands that state of play,” David A. Hollander, an assistant dean and associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport, said in an email.

Companies have reacted quickly to brand gaffes in the past. H & M apologized last year for using a black child to model a hoodie that said “coolest monkey in the jungle” and removed the sweatshirt from its stores. The year before, Zara withdrew a miniskirt featuring a cartoon that resembled Pepe the Frog, a character designated as an alt-right hate symbol.

Those examples were more obviously offensive than the commemorative Nikes, several branding experts said. But Mr. Reed, of the Wharton School, said that, for many consumers, the 18th-century flag was representative less of the fight for freedom from British rule than of a period of race-based oppression.

“For lots of people, it’s quite similar to, say, the Confederate flag,” Mr. Reed said. “The revolution now is one of diversity, of all kinds of dimensions that go beyond just white males — women, people of color, people of different sexual orientations. It’s a different world, and it’s a different flag.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Nike Drops ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker After Kaepernick Criticizes It

Nike planned to celebrate the Fourth of July with a new sneaker, a special edition of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike featuring that most patriotic of symbols: an American flag.

But rather than including a flag with 50 stars as part of its design, the sneaker’s heel featured the 13-star model, a design associated with the Revolutionary War, the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross and, for some people, a painful history of oppression and racism.

On Tuesday, Nike canceled the release of the sneaker, again plunging headlong into the nation’s culture wars.

The abrupt cancellation came after Colin Kaepernick, the former National Football League quarterback and social justice activist, privately criticized the design to Nike, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction.

Mr. Kaepernick, who signed a lucrative deal to serve as a Nike brand ambassador last year, expressed the concern to the company that the Betsy Ross flag had been co-opted by groups espousing racist ideologies, the person said.

Sandra Carreon-John, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement on Tuesday that Nike had made the decision to “halt distribution” of the sneaker “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.” The company’s initial acknowledgment of the recall hours earlier did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

While people all across the political spectrum debated the issue on social media, Gov. Doug Ducey, Republican of Arizona, announced on Twitter that he would pull back state support for a Nike facility that would have employed more than 500 people. Nike had proposed to open the $184 million plant in Goodyear, Ariz.

“Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision,” Mr. Ducey said in a series of tweets, adding that Nike “has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”

The governor, who had previously called the factory “an exciting project,” also said: “Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”

Susan Marie, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Commerce Authority, said the economic development agency was withdrawing the offer of a grant to Nike, worth up to $1 million, “at the governor’s discretion.”

In a statement Tuesday, the City of Goodyear called the furor “a difficult situation” but said its offer of financial incentives to Nike still stood, as elected officials from New Mexico sought to capitalize on the uncertainty and lure the plant across the state line.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the cancellation of the sneaker and Mr. Kaepernick’s involvement.

Betsy Ross is widely credited with creating the first American flag at George Washington’s behest, though most scholars dispute that story as legend, according to the Library of Congress.

To many, the flag is merely a relic, a design that shows up at historical sites like Colonial Williamsburg and on government insignia, like the seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“People just see it as a symbol of early America and the founding of our nation,” said Lisa Moulder, the director of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, which draws more than 1,000 visitors a day. “In Betsy’s time, the flag was strictly utilitarian, a military tool.”

But the flag has, at least in recent years, cropped up in association with racist ideologies. When the Ku Klux Klan tried to recruit new followers in upstate New York last year, its fliers featured a Klansman flanked by the Confederate flag and the Betsy Ross flag. Similar imagery was reportedly included in a letter sent by the Klan to a college newspaper in Washington in 2017.

In 2016, a school superintendent in Michigan apologized after students waved the 13-star flag alongside a Trump political banner at a football game, writing in a letter to parents that the flag had come “to some symbolizes exclusion and hate.” And according to a 2013 investigation by The Albany Herald in Georgia, at least some local Klan units were required to use either that flag or the Confederate flag at ritualistic meetings.

Prominent conservatives argued that Nike’s cancellation of the shoe was unpatriotic.

“It’s a good thing Nike only wants to sell sneakers to people who hate the American flag,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.

Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Just so you know how this works now: Nothing can happen in America anymore if Colin Kaepernick doesn’t like it.”

Mr. Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, became a face of the social justice movement in 2016 after he began kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest police violence against black people and racial inequality in the United States.

His acts of protest inspired similar demonstrations from other professional athletes, but they came under fire from politicians including President Trump, who argued that they were disrespecting the country and the military, and some fans boycotted the N.F.L.

After receiving no offers to join with a team after the 2016 season, Mr. Kaepernick accused the N.F.L. of trying to keep him and a former teammate, Eric Reid, out of the league. In February, the two reached a surprise settlement with the N.F.L. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 02xp-nike-articleLarge Nike Drops ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker After Kaepernick Criticizes It United States National Anthem Protests (2016- ) United States Social Media Sneakers Ross, Betsy NIKE Inc Kaepernick, Colin Independence Day (US) (July 4) football Flags, Emblems and Insignia Ducey, Doug (1964- ) discrimination Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Corporate Social Responsibility Blacks Arizona

A Nike billboard in Manhattan featuring Colin Kaepernick. The company made Mr. Kaepernick the face of its “Just Do It” campaign last year.CreditAlba Vigaray/EPA, via Shutterstock

As part of his lucrative endorsement arrangement with Nike, Mr. Kaepernick appeared prominently in an advertising campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan. In the wake of the ad, some consumers called for a boycott of Nike, while others destroyed their Nike products.

But analysts said that Nike had not suffered financially from its association with an athlete who had become a symbol of the so-called Resistance movement.

“Pretty much every metric you can look at was positive for Nike — their social media mentions went up, their sales rose the week after, and they won a bunch of awards for the ad campaign,” said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for the NPD Group. “They are clearly aligned with their core customer base — the millennial and the Gen Z consumer — and if they have alienated others, those are not the folks who buy a lot of Nikes.”

The decision to cancel the special Air Max shoe is a sign of Mr. Kaepernick’s power at Nike, said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Nike is signaling that they’re going to go all-in on this road, whatever the consequences are, even if it’s going to get some consumers to burn their shoes on Twitter,” he said.

But it can be risky for corporations to ally themselves with divisive brand ambassadors.

“When you get into the game of commodifying social issues in a time of ultra-volatile global political sensitivity, you better create a department in your organization that does nothing all day and night but monitors and understands that state of play,” David A. Hollander, an assistant dean and associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport, said in an email.

Companies have reacted quickly to brand gaffes in the past. H & M apologized last year for using a black child to model a hoodie that said “coolest monkey in the jungle” and removed the sweatshirt from its stores. The year before, Zara withdrew a miniskirt featuring a cartoon that resembled Pepe the Frog, a character designated as an alt-right hate symbol.

Those examples were more obviously offensive than the commemorative Nikes, several branding experts said. But Mr. Reed, of the Wharton School, said that, for many consumers, the 18th-century flag was representative less of the fight for freedom from British rule than of a period of race-based oppression.

“For lots of people, it’s quite similar to, say, the Confederate flag,” Mr. Reed said. “The revolution now is one of diversity, of all kinds of dimensions that go beyond just white males — women, people of color, people of different sexual orientations. It’s a different world, and it’s a different flag.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Nike and Kaepernick Back in Culture Wars After ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker Backlash

Nike planned to celebrate the Fourth of July with a new sneaker, a special edition of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike featuring that most patriotic of symbols: an American flag.

But rather than including a flag with 50 stars as part of its design, the sneaker’s heel featured the 13-star model, a design associated with the Revolutionary War, the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross and, for some people, a painful history of oppression and racism.

On Tuesday, Nike canceled the release of the sneaker, again plunging headlong into the nation’s culture wars.

The abrupt cancellation came after Colin Kaepernick, the former National Football League quarterback and social justice activist, privately criticized the design to Nike, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction.

Mr. Kaepernick, who signed a lucrative deal to serve as a Nike brand ambassador last year, expressed the concern to the company that the Betsy Ross flag had been co-opted by groups espousing racist ideologies, the person said.

Sandra Carreon-John, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement on Tuesday that Nike had made the decision to “halt distribution” of the sneaker “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.” The company’s initial acknowledgment of the recall hours earlier did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

While people all across the political spectrum debated the issue on social media, Gov. Doug Ducey, Republican of Arizona, announced on Twitter that he would pull back state support for a Nike facility that would have employed more than 500 people. Nike had proposed to open the $184 million plant in Goodyear, Ariz.

“Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision,” Mr. Ducey said in a series of tweets, adding that Nike “has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”

The governor, who had previously called the factory “an exciting project,” also said: “Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”

Susan Marie, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Commerce Authority, said the economic development agency was withdrawing the offer of a grant to Nike, worth up to $1 million, “at the governor’s discretion.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the cancellation of the sneaker and Mr. Kaepernick’s involvement.

Betsy Ross is widely credited with creating the first American flag at George Washington’s behest, though most scholars dispute that story as legend, according to the Library of Congress.

To many, the flag is merely a relic, a design that shows up at historical sites like Colonial Williamsburg and on government insignia, like the seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“People just see it as a symbol of early America and the founding of our nation,” said Lisa Moulder, the director of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, which draws more than 1,000 visitors a day. “In Betsy’s time, the flag was strictly utilitarian, a military tool.”

But the flag has, at least in recent years, cropped up in association with racist ideologies. When the Ku Klux Klan tried to recruit new followers in upstate New York last year, its fliers featured a Klansman flanked by the Confederate flag and the Betsy Ross flag. Similar imagery was reportedly included in a letter sent by the Klan to a college newspaper in Washington in 2017.

In 2016, a school superintendent in Michigan apologized after students waved the 13-star flag alongside a Trump political banner at a football game, writing in a letter to parents that the flag had come “to some symbolizes exclusion and hate.” And according to a 2013 investigation by The Albany Herald in Georgia, at least some local Klan units were required to use either that flag or the Confederate flag at ritualistic meetings.

Prominent conservatives argued that Nike’s cancellation of the shoe was unpatriotic.

“It’s a good thing Nike only wants to sell sneakers to people who hate the American flag,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.

Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted, “Just so you know how this works now: Nothing can happen in America anymore if Colin Kaepernick doesn’t like it.”

Mr. Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, became a face of the social justice movement in 2016 after he began kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest police violence against black people and racial inequality in the United States.

His acts of protest inspired similar demonstrations from other professional athletes, but they came under fire from politicians including President Trump, who argued that they were disrespecting the country and the military, and some fans boycotted the N.F.L.

After receiving no offers to join with a team after the 2016 season, Mr. Kaepernick accused the N.F.L. of trying to keep him and a former teammate, Eric Reid, out of the league. In February, the two reached a surprise settlement with the N.F.L. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 02xp-nike-articleLarge Nike and Kaepernick Back in Culture Wars After ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker Backlash United States National Anthem Protests (2016- ) United States Social Media Sneakers NIKE Inc National Football League Kaepernick, Colin football Flags, Emblems and Insignia Ducey, Doug (1964- ) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Corporate Social Responsibility Arizona

A Nike billboard in Manhattan featuring Colin Kaepernick. The company made Mr. Kaepernick the face of its “Just Do It” campaign last year.CreditAlba Vigaray/EPA, via Shutterstock

As part of his lucrative endorsement arrangement with Nike, Mr. Kaepernick appeared prominently in an advertising campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan. In the wake of the ad, some consumers called for a boycott of Nike, while others destroyed their Nike products.

But analysts said that Nike had not suffered financially from its association with an athlete who had become a symbol of the so-called Resistance movement.

“Pretty much every metric you can look at was positive for Nike — their social media mentions went up, their sales rose the week after, and they won a bunch of awards for the ad campaign,” said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for the NPD Group. “They are clearly aligned with their core customer base — the millennial and the Gen Z consumer — and if they have alienated others, those are not the folks who buy a lot of Nikes.”

The decision to cancel the special Air Max shoe is a sign of Mr. Kaepernick’s power at Nike, said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Nike is signaling that they’re going to go all-in on this road, whatever the consequences are, even if it’s going to get some consumers to burn their shoes on Twitter,” he said.

But it can be risky for corporations to ally themselves with divisive brand ambassadors.

“When you get into the game of commodifying social issues in a time of ultra-volatile global political sensitivity, you better create a department in your organization that does nothing all day and night but monitors and understands that state of play,” David A. Hollander, an assistant dean and associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport, said in an email.

Companies have reacted quickly to brand gaffes in the past. H & M apologized last year for using a black child to model a hoodie that said “coolest monkey in the jungle” and removed the sweatshirt from its stores. The year before, Zara withdrew a miniskirt featuring a cartoon that resembled Pepe the Frog, a character designated as an alt-right hate symbol.

Those examples were more obviously offensive than the commemorative Nikes, several branding experts said. But Mr. Reed, of the Wharton School, said that, for many consumers, the 18th-century flag was representative less of the fight for freedom from British rule than of a period of race-based oppression.

“For lots of people, it’s quite similar to, say, the Confederate flag,” Mr. Reed said. “The revolution now is one of diversity, of all kinds of dimensions that go beyond just white males — women, people of color, people of different sexual orientations. It’s a different world, and it’s a different flag.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com