My gift to businesses: How not to be racist, insensitive and recklessDecember 1, 2019
It’s Black Friday, holiday shopping once again has transformed into a Darwinian struggle, and as a public service, I’m here with a helpful suggestion for business leaders.
It’s time for all large companies to create a new position: vice president of you-can’t-be-serious.
All ideas for new products and marketing campaigns would be vetted by the vice president of you-can’t-be-serious, who would be empowered to tell colleagues, “You can’t be serious.”
For example, luxury fashion house Loewe decided to offer a striped ensemble that closely resembled a Holocaust concentration-camp uniform. The company apologized last week “to anyone who might feel we were insensitive to sacred memories” and removed the product from its website.
Earlier this year, Gucci introduced (and subsequently pulled) a sweater year that resembled minstrel-show blackface.
Before these astonishingly stupid blunders made their way to store shelves, a vice president of you-can’t-be-serious at each company would have told colleagues, “You can’t be serious.”
That, in turn, could have prevented costly recalls and public-relations disasters.
I’ve been mulling this idea for a while. It returned to mind the other day when World Against Toys Causing Harm, a.k.a. Watch, a consumer safety group, released its annual list of dangerous toys.
The list includes Hasbro’s $53.99 Nerf Ultra One gun, which can fire foam Nerf darts up to 120 feet. “The darts provided can shoot with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries,” Watch says.
There’s also the $14.99 Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog from Learning Resources, which Watch says is for kids as young as 18 months and includes “12 removable, rigid-plastic ‘quills’ measuring approximately 3.5 inches long” that pose a choking hazard.
Let’s not overlook the $8.99 Nickelodeon Frozen Treat Slime from LaRose Industries, which Watch notes appears to come in flavors such as “mint chocolate chip,” “berry smoothie” and “soft serve.” Yet the package says “harmful chemicals” are present and warns: “Not real food — do not eat.”
And my personal favorite: the $19.99 Power Rangers Beast Morphers Electronic Cheetah Claw, also from Hasbro. Small children are encouraged to “take on enemies” with retractable plastic claws designed “for slashing action.” Yet Hasbro’s website says kids shouldn’t “swing or jab at people or animals.”
It’s no secret that kids like playing with dangerous objects. Is there a kid alive who wouldn’t love receiving a set of lawn darts for the holidays?
But that doesn’t mean responsible parents should give such things to their…