From Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Ad to Kobe Steel’s Fake Data: These Are the Biggest Corporate Scandals of 2017

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: Bill O'Reilly, host of FOX's "The O'Reilly Factor" at FOX Studios on December 15, 2011 in New York City.

Bill O’Reilly settled the sexual harassment case for $32 million. | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

To say we are living in tense times would be a gross understatement. The 2017 news has been plagued with scandal headlines including sexual assault and harassment allegations against major figures, racist and insensitive ad campaigns, fake data, and allegations of President Trump lying about seemingly everything, just to name a few.

When it comes to corporate snafus, there’s been plenty of them. From Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad falling flat on its face to United Airlines forcibly removing a paying passenger, it’s safe to say that the public relations departments have been hard at work trying to redeem themselves. These scandals usually end up costing a company big — both in its bank account and its reputation. Here’s how 15 of this year’s biggest scandals are shaking out.

1. Fox News fires Bill O’Reilly for sexual harassment allegations

For lack of a better word — disgusting. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor became unemployed back on April 19 due to sexual harassment allegations. The network was well aware of the settlement made between O’Reilly and Lisa Weihl, a contributor to the Fox network, but agreed to extend another four-year contract that would pay him a total of $100 million. It claimed it was not aware that the O’Reilly-Weihl settlement was for $32 million.

Eventually, it came out that O’Reilly had been sexually harassing women for years. That’s right. Years. Over the past five years, he has settled on allegations of harassment with five women for a total of $13 million (not including Weihl).  O’Reilly received a slap on the hand from the network and was told that if any more allegations came up, he’d be terminated. Sure enough, he couldn’t walk the straight and narrow. After a new complaint against O’Reilly was filed by Wendy Walsh with 21st Century Fox, the network terminated him. And it doesn’t look like he’ll be landing any new deals after all of this.

Next: This supermodel will think again before agreeing to an ad campaign. 

2. Pepsi and Kendall Jenner campaign trivialize Black Lives Matter

Kendall Jenner is handing a police man a Pepsi.

Kendall Jenner made a lot of people mad. | Pepsi

Good luck finding the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad anywhere on the internet. If you can locate it, let us know! When the ad hit screens, it shook up a lot of people. Depicting the privileged, white supermodel as the center point for what appeared to be a Black Lives Matter-esque protest didn’t sit well with many people. The problem? Many found the ad trivialized the movement. After all, Kendall happily offered a Pepsi to a cop.

Pepsi attempted to stand by the ad, but finally pulled it, accepting the fact that the ad campaign fell flat on its face. Jenner was convinced her career was over. It’s doubtful that is the case, but she will certainly think a little more thoroughly before agreeing to politically-charged ad campaigns.

Next: The flight snafu heard ’round the globe. 

3. United Airlines’ forcible removal of Dr. Dao

United faced PR problem after PR problem. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Jaws dropped when videos surfaced of Dr. David Dao being violently dragged off an overbooked United flight in April. The scene was pretty horrendous. United opted to randomly select passengers to get off the flight. One of whom was Dr. Dao. He refused to leave his seat, so officers forcibly removed him. The poor guy was bleeding by the time he was dragged off plane.

United issued an apology and made some changes to its overbooking policy. A settlement with Dr. Dao was reached in April, but it’s unknown what the financial agreement was.

Next: Will this company survive this slip up? 

4. Adidas sends a ridiculous email to Boston Marathon runners

Boston Marathon Runner

The event sponsor didn’t think that one through. | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The emotions surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing remain ever-present and always will. Yet somehow Adidas didn’t take that into account when it sent out an email blast this April. The company’s subject line read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” Poor word choice? Um, yeah.

Many finishers found the email subject line to be wildly insensitive. Adidas quickly issued a public apology, admitting it didn’t really think that one through. Come on, Adidas!

Next: High-priced tuition doesn’t equal a safe learning environment. 

5. Choate Rosemary Hall’s sexual assault scandals

Choate Rosemary Hall

The elite boarding school has been covering up misconduct for decades. | Choate Rosemary Hall via Facebook

This April, the prestigious Connecticut boarding school Choate Rosemary Hall made headlines. The school appointed an investigator back in 2016 to take a deeper look into the allegations of sexual assault at the boarding school. Come to find out, it’s alleged that sexual misconduct from teachers has been going on since the ’60s. Boarding tuition at the school runs around $56,000.

What’s even more disturbing is the lack of action that the school has taken. All of the cases have been settled without law enforcement getting involved.

Next: Fun, fearless females are upset. 

6. Cosmopolitan’s poorly-worded weight loss title

In June last year I signed up to a program I stumbled upon in the hopes to lose some of the weight I had rapidly gained during some difficult times. But what I achieved instead was something I can barely put into words. I got my life back, my mental health stabilised & I became a healthy, happy, patient & confident person full of self love. I created this public Instagram account to use as accountability, which was very confronting at the time, but the community & the support that now surrounds me is second to none. Ive now lost 20kgs & have achieved all this through nutrition only as I was unable to train or do any exercise due to my chronic back pain & the surgery & rehab that has followed. I have only recently been able to progress into basic exercise such as Pilates & walking which has seen my body start to change shape. I have been an ambassador for this program for 4 months now & couldn't be prouder to promote & share my story. If you are looking for a change or help & support to find yourself again. Jump on board @thebod_ My discount code is SIMONE10 for 10% off any of the 3 program levels. Find the link in my bio. ❤ . . . . . . . . #thebod #thebodbabes #bodsquad #sophieguidolin #healthy #thebodsquad #goals #bodbabes #hustle #fitmom #health #lifestyle #fitnessjourney #organic #thebodresults #healthylifestyle #happy #cleaneating #fitspo #instahealth #transformation #strongnotskinny #fitspiration #healthyliving #weightloss #fitness #wellness #transformation #progressnotperfection #beforeandafter

A post shared by SIMONE | THE BOD (@simone_thebod) on

“How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without *ANY* Exercise” was the title of a story Cosmopolitan tweeted about earlier this year. Intriguing, right? When readers began clicking through the article, it became quickly apparent the subject’s weight loss came as a result of a pretty major health scare —  cancer.

The renowned publication received a lot of backlash from readers as a result of their chosen title. Cosmo ultimately changed the title to “A Serious Health Scare Helped Me Love My Body More Than Ever.” Not cool, Cosmo.

Next: Stocks plummeted after this data breach. 

7. Equifax data breach


Equifax executives sold off their stock to make money. | supershabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images

Get it together, Equifax. Back in September, the Equifax data breach exposed over 143 million people’s private information. We’re talking names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, the whole nine. When the news hit the forefront, Equifax provided a website people could check to find out if they were victims of the breach.

Meanwhile, Equifax executives were selling off their stock — nearly $2 million worth. Since the breach, the company’s stock price has dropped by 18%. And it’s expected to continue to suffer. Equifax issued an apology. That’s about it.

Next: Got your pops? 

8. Kellogg’s Corn Pops’ racist cereal box

Kellogg’s missed the mark in a big fat way. Tweets just starting rolling in about the back of the box artwork on the Corn Pops cereal box. The scene depicts a bunch of light-colored Corn Pops at a shopping mall. The kicker? There is only one dark-colored Corn Pop, and would you believe that’s the only one dressed as a janitor scrubbing the floor?

It’s awful. Kellogg’s has issued an apology, recalled boxes, and has new artwork on the way.

Next: Collusion much? 

9. Russia-Trump campaign investigation

Trump shakes hands with Putin

There is an investigation into just how connected the matters are. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Despite what President Trump may want the public to believe, there is absolutely an investigation going on in order to figure out what the connection between Russia and the Trump campaign actually was. Here’s the deal. The Trump campaign is under investigation for collusion. A meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya back in June of 2016 at the Trump Tower is a key piece of the investigation. It is believed that Veselnitskaya agreed to bring information against Hillary Clinton. Also, CNN reported that over 3,000 Russian-linked ads on Facebook were targeted at Michigan and Wisconsin voters.

Bottom line? Some weird business happened between the Trump campaign and Russia. Collusion? Maybe. Figuring out exactly what happened is the big question mark.

Next: Is this company really supporting women of all colors and shapes? 

10. Dove’s racist bodywash ad

Dove has been putting out ads for a long time in support of women of all colors and shapes being beautiful. Up until recently, it’s done a pretty good job. Here’s what went down. Dove just released an ad depicting a beautiful woman of color with a bottle of their bodywash in the bottom right of the frame. Suddenly, the woman begins removing her brown shirt over her head, and in doing so, her body transforms into a red-headed light-skinned woman.

The company issued a statement claiming they “missed the mark” on the ad campaign. Yeah, we think so too, Dove. The glaring question at hand is what mark was Dove trying to hit in the first place?

Next: Don’t forget how to hail that taxi just yet. 

11. Uber’s under fire for gender discrimination allegations

The Uber app shown as cars drive by

Small adjustments were made, but too little, too late. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Uber has been under fire quite a bit lately. When Susan Fowler — former Uber engineer — published her blog post alleging sexism in the workplace, it caught lots of people’s eyes. And it’s landed the business in a heckuva lot of hot water. The company claimed it wa looking into the allegations.

Fast forward to October 2017. It appears the company is still not doing right by their female employees. Three Latina engineers have filed a lawsuit against Uber on claims of gender discrimination and unequal pay. Although the company made some adjustments to employee pay back in August 2017, these three ladies believe it’s too little too late. We’ll have to see how this unfolds.

Next: Falsified reports out of Japan.

12. Kobe Steel fakes data reports

Kobe Steel

The company’s president admitted to the lies in a press conference. | TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images

Corporate Japan is being rocked by the Kobe Steel scandal. Kobe Steel admitted it produced fake reports on aluminum, copper, and steel parts that have been sold around the world. But it isn’t like this was just a little mistake that just happened. The company has been living this lie for over 10 years. So what industries does this scandal impact? Ever mode of transportation — trains, planes, and automobiles.

While the investigation continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the company goes belly up. Kobe Steel’s stock price has plummeted 40%. The affected businesses are investigating the soundness of their products.

Next: There’s nothing worse than a lying president.

13. Trump’s lies

Donald Trump

Being the king of “alternative facts” hasn’t deterred many supporters. | Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The current President of the United States, Donald Trump, has become known for being a bit of a compulsive liar about a wide variety of topics. For records-sake, The New York Times has a running list of Trump’s lies. It’s disheartening that the Commander in Chief has such a knack for telling untruths. After all, the President has told public lies or falsehoods every single day of the first 40 days he was in office. The saddening thing? There are no signs of this foolishness letting up anytime soon.

Next: Are you rooting for this guy to crash and burn? 

14. Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault and harrassment scandal

at The Weinstein Company and Lexus Present Lexus Short Films at The Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on July 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

The “open secret” finally came crashing down. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

More than 50 women have come forward with sexual assault and harassment allegations against the creep that is Harvey Weinstein. Considered a bit of an “open secret” in Hollywood for a very long time, Weinstein has been a sexual predator against many women. Leveraging his power in the film industry to assault and harass these women has landed Weinstein in a full-on investigation.

Since these allegations surfaced, Weinstein has been fired from The Weinstein Company and board. While Weinstein’s brother Bob has been attempting to tread water in keeping the business in operation, it sounds like the vast majority of Hollywood looks forward to seeing Harvey Weinstein crash and burn.

Next: If it sounds to be too good to be true, it probably is.

15. LulaRoe pyramid scheme and racketeering allegations


The company is accused of being a pyramid scheme. | LulaRoe via Facebook

Get paid full-time for part-time work? If it sounds too good to be true, it typically is. Regardless, multi-level marketing company LulaRoe has managed to convince over 80,000 consultants to peddle their clothing across the country. The premise for the business is that these consultants invest $5,000 upfront in exchange for an inventory of goods to sell. The business model has been wildly successful for owner DeAnne Stidham and her business head and husband, Mark.

Many consultants want out on claims that the business is a pyramid scheme. They are pressured into spending more and more money on inventory even though the stock they have isn’t moving. A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against LulaRoe claiming the business is violating California state law and Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Of course the Stidham’s deny any violation of these laws. We’ll have to wait and see how this shakes out.

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