Business Stories of the Week: April 7

by April 7, 2017
Pepsi was reeling from heated public backlash this week over its controversial ad featuring reality TV star Kendall Jenner handing a cop an ice-cold soda during a Black Lives Matter-like protest, the New York Times reports. (Image "pepsi" by samantha celera via Flickr, CC license by 2.0.)

Pepsi was reeling from public backlash to an ad this week. The company yanked its video featuring Kendall Jenner, who handed a police officer a Pepsi during a street protest, the New York Times reports. (Image “pepsi” by samantha celera via Flickr, CC license by 2.0)

Pepsi offends everyone

Marketing campaigns occasionally miss the mark, sometimes painfully so. And corporate advertisers learned from Pepsi on Wednesday exactly what not to do to grab the attention of today’s 20- and 30-somethings. In a new ad, an urban protest scene seemingly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement catches the eye of model Kendall Jenner, who, inspired by the marchers, ditches her wig mid-photoshoot and approaches a police officer with an ice-cold can of Pepsi as a gesture of peace. Internet and social media echo-chambers responded in outrage, according to the New York Times, accusing Pepsi of exploiting the hard work of political activists to sell a carbonated beverage. Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and apologized, saying it was an innocent yet misguided effort to connect with today’s politically minded youth.

Trump reverses privacy rules

Internet users were months away from having more control over how advertisers and marketers could capitalize on their online activities and browsing habits. But that changed Monday night when President Trump repealed Obama-era privacy protections that the Federal Communications Commissions was set to roll out later this year, according to the Washington Post. With the path now clear of regulatory red tape, Internet providers have a window to enter the $83 billion-digital advertising market. For internet privacy activists like Evan Greer, the move benefits telecom CEOs and lobbyists “who want to rake in money by spying on all of us and selling the private details of our lives to marketing companies,” he told the Post.

Uber and Lyft drivers fail

One of the key persuasions Uber and Lyft have used when wooing local governments across the globe is passenger safety. Specifically, their practice of  fully vetting drivers through extensive background checks. Massachusetts put those claims into serious question this week for the first time. As the ride-sharing industry leaders continue working with other states and localities for legal status, Massachusetts regulators were busy rejecting more than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers from the roadways for failing newly required background checks. Through fingerprints, the checks unearthed every past transgression in the drivers’ adult lives, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Germans invest in dough

JAB Holding Company—the investment vehicle of the Reimann family in Germany, one of the richest families in the world—has been on an American buying spree, shelling out more than $40 billion since 2012 to bring Pete’s Coffee, Keurig Green Mountain, Einstein Brothers and Krispy Kreme under its corporate umbrella. On Wednesday, JAB disclosed plans to spend $7.5 billion to acquire the Panera Bread restaurant chain and take it off the public stock market. The New York Times notes that, given the nature of its U.S. investments, the JAB food-and-coffee empire may be well positioned to compete with heavyweights such as Starbucks and Nestle.

BP boss takes big pay cut

In a move prompted by shareholder revolt, the head of oil giant BP took an $8 million pay cut, reducing his 2016 compensation by 40 percent. The pay cut was revealed in BP’s annual financial report this week, according to CNN Money, which revealed that shareholders in 2015 rejected a proposed 20 percent spike in CEO Bob Dudley’s annual compensation. At the time, the company had seen a $5.2 billion loss in profits. The European Union, where BP is headquartered, has taken steps in recent years to curb excessive payouts to high-level corporate executives. President Trump, meanwhile, has been moving the U.S. in a different direction by scaling back corporate accountability rules under Dodd-Frank.

Amazon staffs up

A few months ago Amazon announced plans to add 100,000 full-time positions to its U.S. workforce over the next year and half. On Thursday, the online giant divulged its intentions to bring in an additional 30,000 part-time workers, mostly warehouse positions, on a slightly shorter one-year timeline, the Wall Street Journal reports. Amazon, the WSJ notes, hasn’t made a practice of disclosing its part-time hiring activities, but this latest move would almost double its tally of existing part-time workers. About 5,000 of the new part-time jobs are meant specifically for individuals who want or need to work from home, with full benefits for those logging at least 20 hours per week.

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