Let's Talk: Is It OK for Skechers to Sweep the Greyhound Issue Under the Rug?
Yesterday I learned of two major companies that, in my opinion, blew it in the public relations department.
The first isn't dog-related, but it's so incredibly bad that I have to mention it here. Carnival Cruise Lines reportedly offered 30 percent off a future cruise to survivors of the deadly Concordia cruise ship accident off the coast of Italy Jan. 13. At least 15 people lost their lives in the harrowing incident, and dozens more were injured.
So you almost die, and you watch as your captain, Francesco Schettino, abandons ship while most passengers (including some who were disabled and injured) are still trying to get help from lifeboats. But 30 percent off? Well, sign me up for the next cruise with that stellar company! News of the offer has sparked more disdain of the shipwrecked Carnival Corp.
And here's the dog-related public relations problem. We reported on part of it last week. It was the story involving shoe company Skechers' upcoming Super Bowl commercial, which was shot at a greyhound track known for ill-treating the dogs. Our story reported that 50,000 (now 114,000) greyhound lovers had signed a petition calling for Skechers and/or NBC to pull the commercial because of the fear that it would glorify greyhound racing. Protests were scheduled as well.
That the ad is running during the most heavily watched sporting event of the year suggests that greyhound racing is a sport. It is not. It is greyhound cruelty, says Christine Dorchak, president of Grey2K USA, the group behind the petition and protests.
Yesterday Dogster Managing Editor Janine Kahn sent me a press release from Skechers. It contained a 16-second preview of the commercial. Here it is:
The press release discussed a variety of topics related to the commercial, and touched on the fact that it had been controversial. But nowhere did it mention greyhounds. In other words, the company is ignoring the issue. I'm not sure that's the way to go. Skechers obviously isn't trying to glorify greyhound racing, but rather to have a cute commercial selling shoes. And French bulldog Mr. Quiggly is, indeed, very cute. Even so, it seems that with the hornet's nest the ad has stirred up, it would have been a good move to do or say something to show support of greyhounds.
But if Skechers is confronting a group of people who wanted the commercial pulled completely, the outreach may not have done too much to smooth things over anyway. Was the company smart to leave it alone? If you are upset by the commercial, would you have been appeased by some outreach for greyhound welfare, or some other kind of mention of greyhounds? Or would it have not mattered? If you don't think the commercial is a problem, do you think that discussing the greyhound issue would have been folly?
Let's talk and about where you stand on this. (Feel free to mention the Carnival debacle as well, even though it's not doggy.)
BTW, if you want to catch the full commercial, watch for it right before the two-minute warning in the first half.