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#SexMyths PSA blows up teens’ rumors about getting it on February 15, 2014

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How do public health organization dispel teens’ rumors about sex? A new PSA campaign by United Way of Greater Milwaukee is making great strides in its new #SexMyths ads. Each video starts with a teen talking about some popular sex myth, like “If you do jumping jacks after you have sex you can’t get pregnant.” Viewers of the videos are asked whether the statement is true or false, they get the answer after they click, and then they are given more rumors to address. The ads eventually encourage viewers to go to getthesexfacts.com, where adults are encouraged to read about what they’re kids are saying about sex. So far, the campaign is mainly limited to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and at bus shelters.

Notably, experts are saying the campaign is pretty successful. Whereas there were 52 births per 1,000 females ages 15-17 in the city in 2006, the group sees trends reducing that to 30 per 1,000 by 2015 – a 46 percent decline if all works out.

Test your knowledge of #SexMyths by watching the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How does the Milwaukee campaign exhibit the qualities of a viral campaign?

2.  How does the #SexMyths campaign clearly target a specific demographic?

3.  How would one measure the influence of such a campaign?

Banana Boat faces crisis after sunblock user catches on fire June 29, 2012

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A Massachusetts man received second-degree burns at the beginning of June 2012 after the Banana Boat sunscreen that he applied to his body caught on fire as he used his grill. Brett Sigworth sustained burns mostly to his chest, ears, and back. He thought nothing of the harms of the sunblock, since the bottle claimed that it was flammable near heat, but said nothing about the dangers once it was applied.

Banana Boat acknowledged the accident immediately, and vowed to investigate the incident. The company stated: “We were concerned to hear about Brett’s experience. At Banana Boat, we take these matters very seriously and will begin a prompt investigation as we continue to strive to deliver products of the highest quality to our consumers.” There has been no word yet on any action that Banana Boat has taken to recall products or compensate Sigworth.

For more on the incident, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  To what extent might Sigworth’s incident harm Banana Boat’s reputation?

2.  Was Banana Boat’s response to the incident sufficient to maintain a good image? Why, or why not?

3.  If Banana Boat was at fault, what should it do in the future to protect consumers?

Taco Bell scrambles to respond to beef controversy February 5, 2011

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Taco Bell launched a major PR campaign at the end of January 2011 to address accusations that its beef products contained only 35% meat. The allegation originated with a class action lawsuit filed against the fast food giant. That story became big news, and forced Taco Bell to take the defensive position. While many PR experts were skeptical that the story would do serious damage to the chain’s profits, others suggested that a forceful response was needed to kill the rumor.

The restaurant chain’s response was honest. Like most kinds of fast-food, Taco Bell suggested, their beef contained some additives to enhance flavor. The company stated that its beef was 88% meat with the remaining 12% being spices, oats, and other ingredients. However, some critics are now pointing out that Taco Bell’s response was poorly executed. As Andrew Gunther wrote on The Huffington Post:

It’s breathtaking but true. Taco Bell admits that its meat is bland — defined as lacking taste, lacking flavor and being insipid. We might speculate as to whether this meat is trim or recovered meat but it’s almost beside the point. Taco Bell is a company that sells us food. It markets its products as tasty. Taco Bell has nutrition calculators and the Taco Bell “drive thru diet” website to help plan our intake. But in this one statement the company has admitted that it uses ingredients that lack key requirements that we all know are crucial in preparing healthy, nutritious, and enjoyable food.

For more on this story, see the following segment from CBS News:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why did the accusations against Taco Bell have legs? In other words, why were so many people amused about the story?

2.  Was Taco Bell’s response effective? Why, or why not?

3.  Assuming that Andrew Gunther was right, what might have been a better way for Taco Bell to respond?

Facebook addresses rumors of shutdown January 10, 2011

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Despite news of Facebook’s public offering and a massive investment from Goldman Sachs, rumors circulated online at the beginning of January 2011 that the company was shutting down on March 15, 2011 because CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted his old life back. After the rumors triggered widespread public concern, Facebook responded by pointing out that the news was ridiculous and that no such shutdown was planned.

To see an example of online responses to the “crisis,” watch the following videos posted to YouTube:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What does widespread belief in rumors like this say about mass media audiences?

2.  At what point should companies respond to public rumors?