Thirsty for knowledge? Get a taste of the juiciest marketing news with The Squeeze! We deliver industry highlights straight to your inbox to get your creative juices flowing. From the latest developments stinking up Tesla to whether or not CEOs should get political, here is the recap for what happened in February.
When someone tells you to pull their finger…
Okay, pump the brakes. Tesla wants to blow us all away with their new fart mode application for emissions testing. Drivers can choose from a selection of flatulence sounds that include: Short Shorts Ripper, Neurastink and the wildcard setting I’m so random. Looks like the future of smart cars is dumb antics.
In other news stinking up Tesla, CEO Elon Musk has landed himself on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) naughty list for a recent tweet. This isn’t the first time the two have butted heads because of Musk’s reckless Twitter habits.
This most recent offense involved Musk tweeting about Tesla’s projected production numbers. The tweet was not only an inaccurate report but was also published without approval from the company or its other board members.
In response, the SEC asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt, writing: “Musk did not seek or receive pre-approval prior to publishing this tweet, which was inaccurate and disseminated to over 24 million people.”
The development comes in the wake of major turnovers, dropping share value and wary investors. Even with the company’s imminent Model Y SUV unveiling, 2019 may be a bumpy road for Tesla’s leadership, and they’ll need a lot more than fart mode to blow off their steam.
Should CEOs get political?
We’ve discussed whether brands should take a stance on sociopolitical issues over and over and over again, but this new trend takes it a step further.
In the world of corporate communication, CEO activism is red hot right now. Even public relations firms are building entire practices around it. Recent years have seen a huge surge in CEOs speaking out on controversial topics like racial discrimination, LGBTQ rights, climate change, immigration and even President Trump.
Researchers Aaron K. Chatterji and Michael W. Toffel cite a few different reasons for this trend: First, CEOs feel obligated to speak out or act on issues that directly pertain to their corporate values. For example, when President Trump defunded national parks, outdoors company Patagonia sued him. CEO Rose Marcario cited several reasons for the company’s action, one of which was:
Patagonia’s business relies directly on public lands, like Indian Creek in Bears Ears, which hosts world-class climbing. Powered by national monuments, national parks and other special public lands that draw millions of visitors a year, outdoor recreation is America’s fourth-largest industry — driving $887 billion in annual consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
Second, corporate actions may stem from personal convictions, like when Hobby Lobby’s CEO David Green denounced the Obamacare mandate that employers must cover birth control in employee healthcare plans, due to his religious beliefs.
Third, millennials value corporate responsibility and CEO activism more than any other age group when it comes to their purchasing decisions and when choosing an employer. Other research corroborates this point. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that over half of consumers have “no respect for CEOs who remain silent on important issues.”
CEO activism may very well be a necessity for corporations to build trust and remain relevant, but business leaders should be wary. There is a time and a place for making bold statements.