Happy Friday! Today, I covered stories of companies changing their corporate images for better and worse. Urban Outfitters made a painfully unfortunate mistake -- I couldn’t help but mention it and all of the similar mistakes they’ve made in recent years. On the other hand, ride-sharing service Uber is doing something really innovative to help veterans. Does a company doing something good or bad affect us buying their goods or using their services? What’s more important, politics or products? If you’re going shopping this weekend, it’s something you might want to keep in mind.
If you have something to say, tweet me @AmandaLauren or chat away in the comments.
Meredith Vieira Reveals Abusive Relationship
On her new talk show this week, former "The View" and "Today" host Meredith Vieira revealed that she was in an abusive relationship, in wake of all the domestic violence cases recently coming to light. Vieira spoke in frank detail and explained why it’s not always easy for victims of abuse to just walk away:
I was scared of him. I was scared if I tried to leave something worse could happen to me. Part of it was guilt because every time we would have a fight he would then start crying and say, ‘I promise I won’t do it again’ and I would feel like maybe I contributed somehow to this and they are saying this about Ray Rice’s wife, that it takes two to tango. Then there was the night, we shared an apartment, and he threw me into a shower, naked with scalding water and then he threw me outside into the hallway, we lived in an apartment building and I hid in the stairwell for two hours until he came again crying, ‘I promise I won’t do this again.’ I continued to stay in that relationship until I was offered a job in another state and that’s where I felt I had the ability to get away.
Urban Outfitters, who also owns Anthropologie, Free People and BHLDN, has a history of making bad fashion decisions. The company once labeled a T-shirt’s color combination “Obama/Black.” They also sold a T-shirt that said “Eat Less.” In 2008, Urban Outfitters sold a shirt that pictured a Palestinian youth carrying an AK-47 assault rifle above the word “victimized.” And then there was the shirt that said “Everybody Loves A Jewish Girl,” which was adorned with shopping bags and dollar signs.
The latest mistake? A "distressed" Kent State sweatshirt, seemingly with fake bloodstains and bullet holes, for the price of $129. If you don’t remember the Kent State Massacre in 1970, let me fill you in: Four unarmed students were tragically shot and killed by the National Guard during a Vietnam War protest.
CEO Dick Hayne has come to the defense of the buyer, saying it was just an oversight. In a company-wide email, which was leaked to the press, he tried to cover up this little snafu.
Despite what has been reported, the sweatshirt in question is a vintage item and there is only one. We purchased it from the Rose Bowl Flea Market in an assorted lot of 50 other sweatshirts from other colleges and universities across the country. All were well worn and many were 'distressed'. We photographed them as purchased, including the Kent State sweatshirt, and posted for sale on our website as part of our sun-faded vintage collection.
The condition of the Kent State sweatshirt pictured is as we bought it. There is no blood on it, and we certainly never promoted it as such. The discoloration that some mistook for blood is from natural fading and bleaching. Once the negative feedback was brought to our attention, we removed the item immediately from sale and sent an apology letter to Kent State University.
Vintage items are part of the heritage of the Urban brand and differentiate us from other retailers. We are proud of the Urban Renewal concept and believe that the vintage buyers have done an outstanding job in giving our customers what they want. Customer feedback on this type of product has been consistently positive. We will continue to offer these one-of-a-kind items and feel the recent confusion over the Kent State sweatshirt is an unfortunate occurrence.
ISIS Thwarted In Australia
This week Australian counterterrorism forces detained 15 people in a series of suburban raids after learning that ISIS was planning to kidnap random people off the streets in Sydney and Brisbane, behead them on camera and release it on video. In the largest raid in Australian history, more than 800 federal and state police officers raided more than 12 properties across 12 suburbs of Sydney. Some of the evidence removed included a sword.
Last week, Australia raised the Terror Alert to High, which means that an attack is very likely. Australia is one of 40 countries that have agreed to help fight ISIS. They will be sending military advisors to Iraq and deploying aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. They also plan to help with humanitarian efforts, but will not be involved in ground fighting.
Scotland Remains Part of the UK
On Thursday, Scotland went to the polls to vote on whether they wanted remain part of the United Kingdom, as they have for 307 years, or to become an independent country. The vote was quite close, with 45% of voters for independence and 55% against it. What also was very interesting about this election was the national passion for this issue, with an 86% voter turnout. This is one of the highest percentages in the democratic world for this type of vote. Nicola Sturgeon, who is the deputy head of the Scottish National Party, which is pro-independence, told the BBC:
"Like thousands of others across the country I’ve put my heart and soul into this campaign and there is a real sense of disappointment that we’ve fallen narrowly short of securing a yes vote."
• Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who was in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction earlier this year, has been diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive cancer in his abdomen called a “pleomorphic liposarcoma.” He has withdrawn from the current mayoral election and his brother Doug will run in his place.
• “Saturday Night Live” alum Darrell Hammond, who was on the show from 1995-2009, will rejoin this season replacing Don Pardo as the announcer. Pardo passed away this year at the age of 96. Hammond, who is known for his impressions, quietly filed in for Pardo before, impersonating his voice. However, Pardo is irreplaceable and Hammond will be announcing the show in his own voice.
• Ride sharing service Uber launched UberMILITARY, an attempt to employ 50,000 veterans. The company has brought on former secretary of defense Robert Gates as a volunteer advisor to increase the company’s credibility with veterans.