It will be most interesting to see if Dunkin Donuts gets to the real story behind the Rachel Ray kaffiyeh wearing controversy. For those of you who may have missed the story - cooking show host Rachel Ray wears a kaffiyeh, the ad hoc symbol of Palestinian resistance in a TV spot for Dunkin Donuts.
After several blogs picked up on the controversy and contacted Dunkin Donuts they hastily pulled the ad with perhaps the highest bullshit PR quotient I have seen in a long time. The PR team at Dunkin Donuts blamed it on a stylist who selected the outfit for Rachel Ray. I'll bet somebody dinner here at Mortons in SFO that some marketing goof either at Dunkin Donuts or their agency did this as their own little form of political activism.
I've written extensively about activist marketers and the damage they do to their brands. Oprah is finding her Obama activism is costing her ratings, JetBlue got stung by somebody on their marketing team advocating their personal political agenda. Google had a recent brush with Michael Moore supporters, and Laurie David demonstrates celebrity hijacking with her potential impact on Prius sales.
The point I want to emphasize for CEO's is the risk associated with
affiliating your brand with controversial causes like global warming,
liberal activists, etc. So when your CMO walks into your office with
his NPR coffee mug suggesting you might want to align your brand with a
really good cause - proceed with caution. More importantly, if one of your marketers or agencies decide to hijack your brand for their own pet cause then I think you need to hog-tie 'em and frog-march 'em through the company cafeteria at high noon.