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New York Times opinion editor resigns and Reebok cuts ties with CrossFit: Monday Wake-Up Call
This weekend has seen further dramatic repercussions following the death of George Floyd at police hands two week ago in Minneapolis. While marches against racial injustice continued in the U.S. and around the world, with protestors even toppling a statue of a slave trader in the U.K. city of Bristol, senior figures in the media and sports worlds also took a battering.
New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet resigned yesterday following public fury over the paper’s decision to publish an op-ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton under the headline “Send in the Troops.” A.G. Sulzberger, the Times publisher, told staff in a message: “Last week we saw a significant breakdown in our editing processes, not the first we’ve experienced in recent years.”
Bennet’s deputy, James Dao, will also resign from the paper’s masthead and be reassigned to the newsroom, after the paper concluded that the op-ed didn’t meet its standards after a review on Thursday. Senator Cotton said on Fox News yesterday that he was disappointed at the Times’ reversal of decision, and President Trump also weighed in, tweeting that Bennet “quit over the excellent Op-Ed penned by our great Senator.”
Racial injustice arguments also reverberated through the sports world this weekend. On Sunday, Reebok announced that it will end its relationship with the gym network CrossFit by the end of the year, following an insensitive tweet about George Floyd by its CEO, Greg Glassman.
As Forbes reports, the move came after Glassman's response on Saturday to a June 4 tweet by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The IHME tweet read: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response, wherever they occur. #BlackLivesMatter.” Glassman tweeted “It’s FLOYD-19.”
The tweet sparked outrage on Twitter and Reebok subsequently told Footwear News it would discontinue its sponsorship of the CrossFit Games after 2020. While Glassman has since apologized for his comments, he’s also been criticized heavily by others in the world of sport, including some of CrossFit's own affiliated gyms and athletes. The row comes as sports leaders come under pressure from their athletes to take a stand against racism, and some, such as the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, have already done so (see below).
Late on Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared in a video in which he admitted the NFL was “wrong” in the way it originally responded to players' protests against police brutality.
As Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz writes, the statement “now raises a number of questions, like whether it will be now OK for players to kneel during the national anthem and if Colin Kaepernick, who became the prominent face of Nike's 'Dream Crazy' campaign for taking a stand, will now have a chance to return to the NFL.”
Schultz also points out that the development came after a Thursday video post by Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and several other NFL players, demanding that the league issue a more-detailed response to racial injustice. “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” the players stated in the film, posted to their social media channels. “How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players? What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?” See the video here.
Throughout the pandemic, Ad Age has been developing new ways to connect with our readers, and today sees the debut of a new digital version of our publication. With no postal delivery necessary, the Ad Age Digital Edition incorporates stories as well as links to multimedia content including podcasts, videos and ads. It also offers a distillation of what is currently trending, along with the events, news and issues to keep an eye on in the coming week.
This week’s edition includes an interview with Translation founder Steve Stoute that calls out marketers for empty gestures rather than action on racial inequality in the wake of the George Floyd murder. We also look at the potential legal liabilities in resuming commercial shoots and report on a new crop of agencies being formed to challenge the existing agency model.
It’s the first of a number of Ad Age Digital Editions planned for this summer to supplement our online coverage. After this initial issue, which you can download here, distribution will be limited to subscribers. To receive the Digital Edition, sign up here.
Blackout bonanza: More than 950 brands participated in “Blackout Tuesday” on Instagram last week, according to new data shared exclusively with Ad Age Datacenter by CreatorIQ, the influencer marketing platform. Read more here.
Resigning in protest: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the company's board on Friday as a form of protest, reports Ad Age’s Garett Sloane, calling for a black leader to take his place. “I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now,” Ohanian wrote.
'Clogged': Ikea’s slow embrace of e-commerce before the pandemic has left customers across the U.S. struggling to track and receive their orders, according to the Wall Street Journal. Deliveries “now take more than a month to arrive and the company’s phone lines are clogged,” claims the article.
Pride efforts postponed: Brands are delaying or reworking Pride campaigns in the light of the George Floyd protests, reports Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing. Truly, Bubly and Jack Daniel’s are among those brands postponing their campaigns until later in the month. Meanwhile, L.A. Pride, which had canceled its annual in-person Pride parade due to the pandemic, announced its intention to lead a peaceful protest in solidarity with the black community in its place.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
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