How Businesses Recover After Mass Shootings; Harriet Tubman Debit Card Sparks Controversy: Tuesday’s First Things First

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Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s new daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

How Do Businesses Like Pulse and Walmart Recover After a Mass Shooter Destroys Everything?

Though school shootings tend to linger longer in the public memory, more mass shootings take place in businesses (37%) than schools (25%). Media coverage of mass shootings—and with it, the public’s focus—tends to center, justifiably, on the victims. After that, the discussion invariably broadens to questions of societal causes, mental illness and the politicized issues surrounding gun control. What’s far less explored is the question of what becomes of the business itself. How should the owners respond? What happens to the employees? Which factors determine whether a company reopens after a shooting?

“I’ve seen organizations several months after a shooting and there’s a black cloud hanging over the company,” says Sem Security Management founder Richard Sem, who has consulted with scores of corporations that have suffered episodes of workplace violence and over 30 that have dealt with mass shootings, specifically. “If it’s not managed properly, it can have a dramatic effect on productivity, morale and retention—on your reputation and, ultimately, your ability to do business.”

Read more: Senior editor Robert Klara spent four months reporting out this feature on the impact of mass shootings on businesses and the challenges they face in the aftermath of the unthinkable.

This Black-Owned Bank Put Harriet Tubman on a Debit Card and Social Media Lost It

OneUnited Bank recently announced a new limited-edition Black History Month version of its Visa debit card. The card features a rendition of famed American abolitionist and Underground Railroad member Harriet Tubman with her arms folded across her chest, commissioned work by Miami-based artist Addonis Parker. But when the bank announced the new card on Twitter, reactions were swift and critical. Some who commented on the design said they assumed the project had been led by a clueless white marketing team, which wasn’t the case.

Read more: The artist and bank president stand behind the design, saying the symbolism of the artwork was misinterpreted.

Direct-to-Consumer Brands Had a Bad Week, but It’s Not All Doom and Gloom for the Industry

Between Brandless shutting down, Edgewell Personal Care backing out of its acquisition of Harry’s after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the deal, Casper’s lackluster IPO and Birchbox laying off 25% of its global workforce, it hasn’t been the best week for direct-to-consumer brands. But it’s not all bad: Setbacks like these give companies and anyone in the space a chance to reflect. DTC’s bubble is far from bursting, but the industry is changing—and this week’s developments are indicative of that. “There are no shortcuts to building brands,” said Sucharita Kodali, an analyst at Forrester. “It takes money over time and takes way more than digital marketing. You see one year of low customer acquisition costs and you think that’s going to hold true forever, and that’s not the case.”

Read more: Learn why the FTC’s ruling doesn’t mean it’s going after every acquisition in the space, and how Brandless and Casper provide valuable lessons for the industry.

Pier 1 Imports Files for Bankruptcy, Will Pursue Sale of Company

Pier 1 Imports filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday and is pursuing a sale of the company, per an agreement with a majority of its term loan lenders, according to a statement. The retailer plans to use the chapter 11 process to complete the previously announced closure of 450 stores, which includes all of its locations in Canada. Thus far Pier 1 Imports has closed or initiated going out of business sales in more than 400 locations and is also shuttering two distribution centers. The company’s CEO said that Pier 1 Imports has already garnered interest from potential buyers.



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