Category Archives: Marketing and Advertising

The Miami Marlins Are Selling Fake Memories

 Through June 3, 2017, there have been 296 no-hitters officially recognized by Major League Baseball, 252 of them in the modern era starting in 1901. Seeing one in person is a joy and a treat for any baseball fan, and even the close-but-no cigar games are memorable, as every out, every great play and every batter creates excitement, anticipation, and dread. No sport has anything like no-hitters. 

On that June 3 date, four days ago, Edinson Volquez tossed the first no-no ( as they are colloquially called) this season, and the sixth no-hitter in Miami Marlins history,  defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was an unusual version of the breed because Volquez, a journeyman starter, had two baserunners who reached on walks and saw them erased by double plays. He needed only 98 pitches  to complete the masterpiece.

This comes at a good time for the sad-sack Marlins, who have attendance problems, trust issues (the team twice dismantled a championship team to save money), bad luck (rising superstar pitching ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident at the end of last season), hero problems (Fernandez was driving the boat,  he was drunk and on coke, and he killed two of his friends) and ownership uncertainty, for the team is for sale.

A friend living in Florida writes,

“The Miami Marlins selling tickets to a game that’s already been played? I suppose so you can frame them and claim you were at the no-hitter a Marlins’ pitcher threw on June 3rd. From the email they sent me, since I live in Florida and do attend three or four Marlins games a season:

“For those of you who missed attending the game but want to own a souvenir piece of history, unsold tickets from the game are still available by clicking here. Online purchases will be printed and mailed. Fans can also purchase tickets in-person at the Marlins Park Ticket Office.”

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Marketing and Advertising, Sports

Unethical Website Of The Month: Redbubble [UPDATED]

Just because we have free speech and any company can peddle uncivil, hateful and divisive political stickers, decals and T-shirts doesn’t mean doing so is right, responsible, or good citizenship. [NOTE: In the original post, I represented that Redbubble made or designed this merchandise. That was mistaken (thanks to Alexander Cheezem for the correction.]

Above is a sample of what this site sells to encourage juvenile, inarticulate and boorish Americans to breach manners and standards of appropriate political speech, so they can  make our neighborhoods as ugly, angry and divided as possible. There is a lot more.

People like those running Redbubble (and the creators of the merchandise, of course) are the political equivalent of professional arsonists. They profit from making the country and the culture worse.

Is “I’m just giving people what they want” on the Rationalizations List yet? I don’t think so.

I better fix that.

__________________________

Pointer: Zoltar Speaks

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Rights, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Ethics Quiz: The Boston Red Sox And “Hate Speech”

SHHHHHHHH!

I don’t know why it is that the Boston Red Sox are leading all of baseball in ethics controversies, but here’s the story:

The Red Sox have been playing the Orioles the last four days, in a series marked by rancor arising from an incident last week that has metastasized into an exchange of words, accusations and attempted beanballs.  After the first game in this series,  Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones claimed that he had heard racial epithets from the stands, and a bag of peanuts had been thrown at him.  Boston  and the Red Sox in particular have a dubious racial history (the team was the last in baseball ito have a black player), so this immediately became a big story, with the Sox, MLB, the city, and even the governor expressing horror, regret, and outrage. No fan or Orioles player has stepped  forward to substantiate Jones’ accusations. I don’t doubt him, but that is relevant, because in the entire episode as it unfolded, conclusive evidence has been deemed unnecessary. Accusations alone confer guilt. In the next game, Fenway gave Jones a long standing ovation on his first trip to the plate, saying, in essence, “We’re sorry you were treated this way, and we reject that disgusting conduct.” Good. That is the Fenway Park I know.

Then it was reported that another fan who was in the crowd at Fenway  the next night has been banned for life by the Red Sox. Team president Sam Kennedy said that the fan received the lifetime ban for using a racial slur to to describe a Kenyan woman who sang the National Anthem before the game, in a conversation with another fan.

Calvin Hennick, a Boston resident bringing his son to his first Red Sox game as a present for his sixth birthday, wrote on Facebook and confirmed to the Associated Press  that a  fan sitting near him used “nigger” when referring to the National  Anthem singer that night. Hennick asked the man to repeat what he had said, and when he did,Hennick summoned security. The Fenway security ejected the offending fan, who denied using a racial slur….you know, like Giles Corey denied being a witch.

Kennedy thanked Hennick, who is white, for coming forward. Says NBC baseball writer Craig Calcaterra, who once was a lawyer and presumably understood basic principles of justice, process, and fairness, “Kudos to the Red Sox for acting so swiftly.”

The Red Sox acted swiftly, all right.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this...

Is it fair, proportionate, reasonable and just to ban a baseball spectator for life under these circumstances?

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Ethics Hero, Corporate Division: Merck

Sometimes, though their implacable foes would refuse to acknowledge it, big corporations do the right thing even without a metaphorical gun at their heads. This week’s Economist magazine relates an amazing example that the public needs to know about, especially since it challenges popular stereotypes about Big Pharma.

The Economist begins by horrifying us with a deadly aspect of life in third world countries that are hot and wet: “neglected tropical diseases,” or NTDs. These are neglected because the populations that suffer from them are poor and far away, but they affect more than a billion people. Among the scourges, all parasitic, are Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, guinea-worm disease, leishmaniasis, river blindness, trachoma and yaws. There are 18 pernicious maladies currently listed as NTSs.

In the 1970s, mega-pharmaceutical firm Merck developed the drug ivermectin after tests on animals with parasitic infections. William Campbell, one of the firm’s parasitologists,told company executives that the new drug might be effective against the parasite that caused onchocerciasis, or river blindness, which  afflicts populations in in parts of Africa, Latin America, and  Yemen.  He was given the green light to find out.

The first human trial of ivermectin as treatment for river blindness took place in Senegal in 1981, on patients who had the early stages of the disease—itching, rashes— but no damage to their eyes yet. The results were encouraging,  indicating that ivermectin was safe for humans and highly effective at stopping the disease before it blinded its victims.  Merck, however, now faced the problem that has impeded cures for all the neglected tropical diseases: those who needed ivermectin were too poor to buy it, and so were the nations where they lived. Big corporations are not charities; they have investors, stockholders and a bottom line. They are not accustomed or programmed to give away their products.

Yet Merck made a corporate decision that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say is impossible. Starting in 1987, it made an open-ended commitment to distribute as much ivermectin as was needed to eradicate the river blindness worldwide. In the next ten years, it swallowed the cost of 100 million doses. Continue reading

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Incompetence Saturday’s Grand Finale: The Most Incompetent Story Ever Told!

The promise (L) and the reality (R)

I have now read about ten articles about the collapse of the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, and I still find it hard to comprehend.

The Fyre Festival was conceived by rapper Ja Rule and associate Billy McFarland in the Bahamas, and promoted by pop celebrities (I barely, just barely, know these people) Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin and Bella Hadid, In a promo video posted January, the Fyre Festival promised..

“The best in food, art, music and adventure…on the boundaries of the impossible, Fyre is an experience and festival…A quest to push beyond those boundaries!”

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

“You’ll be flown roundtrip on a custom, VIP configured Boeing 737 aircraft between Miami International Airport and Exuma International Airport on Great Exuma,” said the festival’s website. “Guests will be staying in modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes. … Unplug from the everyday and ignite your flame in the Exumas!” Among theacts scheduled to perform were Major Lazer and Blink-182, as well as a DJ “who specializes in producing ’70s and ’80s rock remixes for clients that include Middle Eastern and European royalty.”.

Celebrities with ties to the organizers  tweeted and Instagrammed, building buzz about Fyre.  Ja Rule tweeted just a month ago, “This is where the cool kids will be April 27-30 May 5-8!!! #fyrefestival #fyre.”

Ticket packages to experience the self-proclaimed “cultural event of the decade” included accommodations and chartered flights from Miami, with a low price of $900 and a luxury tag of $399,995 for access to the performers.  Days before the festival was to begin, @fyrefestival  was still ginning up anticipation.

Then the festival-goers arrived on the first day to find…nothing. Well, worse than nothing: chaos. Those who had  paid $500 apiece for what the festival’s promotion described as “villas” found that the only shelter provided were FEMA-style refugee tents. There was no food, except some hastily packaged cheese sandwiches. All of the scheduled performers canceled.

The festivalgoers who hadn’t arrived by private yachts found themselves confused and stranded, with luggage but nowhere to sleep for the night. Some paid festival employees $100 to return them to the airport in a flatbed truck, but when they arrived at the airport gate, they were told that they couldn’t access the airport, requiring more bribes to get to a plane, if they were lucky. The stampede of shocked glitterati desperately trying to flee backed up the local airports, stranding many attendees in deplorable conditions, like understaffed kitchen tents with  pots of uncooked food.

And where were the organizers during all this? Nowhere near the “festival,” in Ja Rule’s case. (McFarland was  either partying on a yacht the first night of the festival, or he actually showed his face and tried to assist the victims of his ineptitude. I tend to the first account, because if he did show up, I would assume that he would be chum by now.)  Ja Rule was performing… in Chicago. He later issued a ridiculous statement, saying in part,

“I’m heartbroken at this moment. My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event, it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded … I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”

Comments:

1. If you organize and promote an event and it turns out like this one, it IS your fault. You idiot.

2.  If it was a scam, at least the results could be explained as something other than someone persuading many people to trust and rely on him when he had no idea what the hell he was doing.

3. Inconvenienced? INCONVENIENCED? Selling tickets to an event in the Exumas that requires people to fly there and be met with a total fiasco is a lot more than an inconvenience.

His partner, Billy McFarland, had equally jaw-dropping comments, which included these gems..

We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that’s when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit. 

The Exumas didn’t have a really great infrastructure – there wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on. We thought we were ready and built two different festival sites….The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realized, “Wow, we can’t do this.” We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems….We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.

KABOOM!

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Incompetence Saturday Begins: That Annoying “Ten Concerts, One’s A Lie” Facebook Game

It’s a relief to know that I occasionally pay attention to what I teach.

When so many of my Facebook friends started rushing like lemmings to play the viral “Name ten concerts you attended, with one phony one” game yesterday, I hesitated, and not just because listing Al Jolson, Enrico Caruso and  Jenny Lind would reveal my true age. I had just been explaining to a group of Pennsylvania lawyers that they probably weren’t as competent in using technology and social media as they thought they were, and that if there was one thing of value to extract from the last Presidential campaign, it was a searing lesson in the consequences of being naive, lazy and gullible while using the internet. (Yes, I’m looking at you, John Podesta!)

By purest coincidence, yesterday also marked my four hour efforts, involving four phone calls, three phones, two websites, three passwords and a consultant (my son), to switch my e-mail address from Verizon to AOL, since AOL has purchased Verizon’s e-mail business. As I neared the finish line of this ordeal, I encountered AOL’s list of “Secret Security Questions.” One of them was “What was the first concert you attended?

Hmmmm… Continue reading

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Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part I)

As you probably know by now, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc ended its relationship with Bill O’Reilly at Fox News following what are being called allegations of sexual harassment, the revelation of them in the news media despite Fox’s pay-out of over $13,000,000 to the women who were involved, and a subsequent wide-spread boycott of his high-rated show “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Ethics Observations:

1. Good. Long, long overdue, but good. Fox News should have fired O’Reilly after the first sexual harassment episode which was years ago; it is a firing offense in ethical organizations for most employees, and the fact that Fox allowed its most influential and most profitable star to skirt accountability and survive to harass again was a classic example of the rationalization known as The King’s Pass, or The Star Syndrome.

2. The fact that Fox News creator, leader, and boss Roger Ailes was also jettisoned after a sexual harassment scandal showed at the time that the organization had developed an unethical culture that was hostile to women….as Ethics Alarms pointed out last July. (“There seems to be a culture of sexual harassment at Fox, coming down from the rotting fish head in charge, Roger Ailes.”)  This was the other shoe dropping.

3. O’Reilly issued a carefully crafted statement composed with the assistance of a “crisis consultant”:

“Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television,” O’Reilly said in a statement. “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”

I would say the Bill is lying through his teeth with the “unfounded” part, but sexual harassers often don’t think they have done anything wrong. They think they were just being “nice,” or they think their advances were misunderstood, or they believe that the harassment accusations are a cover for something else. Ailes also denies that he did anything wrong. This is typical. It would have been a wonderful thing if O’Reilly could admit that his conduct was wrong and apologize to the victims while sincerely promising to change, but like most harassers, he couldn’t mount the character and the acknowledgement of hard reality to do it.

4. What is more damaging, perhaps, is that so many of O’Reilly’s fans and followers will believe his self-delusion because they also don’t “get” sexual harassment, and think the whole issue is manufactured feminist nonsense and political correctness. Boys will be boys! Everybody does it! 

5. If there is anyone who is informed and intelligent and still followed Bill O’Reilly without constant cognitive dissonance, they should be ashamed of themselves. If one was alert, Bill constantly revealed himself as a blowhard who was convinced he was smarter than he was, or perhaps more accurately, knew he was faking it and adopted a assertive, intimidating and self-righteous persona as cover for his own insecurities.  Continue reading

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