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By Mike Kuczkowski In the summer of 2015, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger wanted to be candid with the investment community about an issue that had been haunting the company for a while. ESPN was a very big and very profitable part of Disney’s $52 billion business, which at that point included Pixar, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm. But things were changing. The rise of high-speed internet connections had led young people, in particular, to drop their cable...

By Diana Dopfel and Mike Kuczkowski We have just completed our first survey of leadership communications at US organizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The press release can be found here and the full research report can be found here. The results found that organizations have risen to the challenge of COVID-19 communications, but the needs of employees in this time of crisis persist. Leaders must address concerns and demonstrate transparency, clarity and openness to build stronger...

By Mike Kuczkowski Last week, the coffee giant Starbucks launched a campaign encouraging its baristas to engage customers in a dialogue about race. Baristas around the country were encouraged to chat about race with their customers and write “Race Together" on each coffee cup. It was a bold move, not without risk, and it has drawn both praise and criticism. How do we evaluate a campaign like “Race Together”? I think it give us an opportunity to think about...

By Mike Kuczkowski A couple of weeks ago in Cupertino, a huge brand put everything on the line to try to re-establish its relevance in the face of doubts about its ability to execute. Its actions were beyond innovative — I’d argue they were revolutionary and hold the potential to transform the industry going forward. I’m not talking about Apple. I’m talking about U2. If you haven’t heard the entire story, here’s a quick synopsis. At the close of...

Two major brands, Nike’s Jordan brand and Gatorade, have produced tribute ads to Yankees Shortstop Derek Jeter, who retires this week. Which did a better job of expressing Jeter’s brand? Here’s our scorecard. R2SPECT  Produced by Nike’s Jordan brand, the spot features celebrities, athletes, firefighters, police, doormen and fans appropriating Jeter’s signature hat tip, under the line R2SPECT — integrating Jeter’s uniform number into the headline in an iconic manner. It debuted in July, at the time of Jeter's 14th and...

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his five sons share in his #icebucketchallenge videoBy Mike Kuczkowski We know the story by now: On July 31, 29-year-old Pete Frates, of Boston, filmed a 52-second video that sparked a movement. The video itself is unremarkable. Frates stares into the camera, moving his head back and forth to the beat of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby.” He says nothing. He writes a message naming nine people in it, tags it #icebucketchallenge and posts it...

By Mike Kuczkowski The events in Ferguson, Mo., last week have not been a proud moment for America. On Aug. 9, a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old. Since then, the world has seen pictures of protests, looting and confrontations with police. The police — armed with military-grade rifles, body armor and mine-resistant vehicles — have been criticized for a ‘militarized’ response. Disputes hang over the details of the shooting itself. (Vox has a good...

Photo Credit: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com Did the Media Hype Philip Seymour Hoffman's Life at his Death, or Did It Miss The Story? By Mike Kuczkowski   There he is, as vital as ever, impossibly alive in character: Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing a John LeCarré spymaster in “A Most Wanted Man.” Another great Hoffman performance, punctuating our loss of his presence in cinema. In February, when I heard Hoffman had died, I experienced that odd range of emotions reserved for those who...