Comcast Pulls Its Sponsorship For Reel Grrls Over A Tweet, Learns How Not To Do PR

from the vindictive-much? dept

Over the last week or so, there's been plenty of controversy over FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker's decision to join Comcast as a lobbyist just months after approving the Comcast/NBC Universal merger. While most of the criticism has been directed at Baker, it appears that Comcast has now managed to turn the negative attention towards itself. It seems that Reel Grrls, a nonprofit that tries to help "empower young women" by teaching them how to do media production via a daycamp, had posted a short tweet about the Baker story:
OMG! @FCC Commissioner Baker voted 2 approve Comcast/NBC merger & is now lving FCC for A JOB AT COMCAST?!?
Thing is, Comcast apparently is one of the sponsors of Reel Grrls. Now, a smart sponsor realizes that it doesn't always agree with those it sponsors. Otherwise, it comes off looking like propaganda, rather than reasonable sponsorship. So apparently, Steve Kipp, who is the VP of Communications at Comcast and who had been in charge of the sponsorship, sent Reel Grrls an email saying that due to the tweet, he would no longer sponsor them:
Malory: Please read the Tweet above. Given the fact that Comcast has been a major supporter of Reel Grrls for several years now, I am frankly shocked that your organization is slamming us on Twitter. This is not the first time either. Iíve seen at least one other negative Tweet about Comcast. I cannot in good conscience continue to provide you with funding--especially when there are so many other deserving nonprofits in town.

I respect your position on freedom of the press. However, I hope you can respect that this Tweet has put me in an indefensible position with my bosses. I cannot continue to ask them to approve funding for Reel Grrls, knowing that the digital footprint your organization has created about Comcast is a negative one.
The Reel Grrls folks, smartly, went to the press about this, leading to national press coverage, and to Comcast going into crisis mode (yet again) and backing down, promising that it would keep funding Reel Grrls. It also claimed that Kipp was "acting alone" and someone higher ranked than him was reaching out to the Reel Grrls to apologize:
"This morning I was shocked to learn that someone on my team reached out to you to withdraw our funding. I apologize for Steve's email, and assure you that Comcast's funding of Reel Grrls will continue," [Senior VP Len] Rozek wrote. "Comcast has long been a proud sponsor of Reel Grrls and your youth leadership development programs designed to empower young women through media production. Your organization aligns with our company's investment priorities, and your positive impact on the girls and women you serve in Washington is making a real difference here in Washington."
In response, Reel Grrls has said that it will refuse funding from Comcast and, instead, will redesign its summer day camp program to "focus on free press issues." They also stated that, "We appreciate Comcastís desire to rectify this situation and hope to encourage them to craft a corporate policy that clearly defends freedom of expression in order to ensure that this situation does not arise again."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:11pm

    Comcast execs are, apparently, very easily shocked.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:20pm

    *Golf Clap*
    Bravo Comcast.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    atroon, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:20pm

    I'm guessing he wasn't just shocked, he was shocked...shocked!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    And these companies still want us to believe that they will have no control over their news organization's reporting on them.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Good for reel grrrrrls!!

     

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    identicon
    JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

    Comcast apologies and promises to continue to support Reel Grrls and Reel Grrls decides to pout and refuse their support. Brilliant. I wonder how many grrls won't be empowered now. Pretty lame response by Reel Grrls.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Chosen Reject (profile), May 20th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      Absolutely true. They should bow down to the corporate dollar (rather than empower themselves) so that they can empower others.

      Wait, what?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 4:02pm

        Re: Re:

        They had no problem taking their money before this happened, despite Comcast's many corporate failings.

        They're like Comcast... principled when it suits them.

         

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        •  
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          The Groove Tiger (profile), May 20th, 2011 @ 9:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So, when Comcast wasn't trying to strongarm them, they accepted their funding. When Comcast tried to strongarm them, they refused their funding. So... what's your point?

          Yes, people show they are principled only when their principles are being trampled, but not a minute before!

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Yeah Right, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      No, it isn't lame. It's awesome. Who would believe the 'acting alone' story anyway.

      Comcast are pulling out a lame excuse and Reel Grrls are telling them to get stuffed.

       

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    •  
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      Paul (profile), May 20th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

      Re:

      I have never heard of Reel Grrls before, but because of Comcast I have. And because of their stand, I will donate to them. I can't be alone, and I am sure they will actually come out ahead by taking a stand.

      Pout? Don't be stupid. Just because you refuse funding from a proven slime ball doesn't mean you are pouting.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 3:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Reel Girls have balls. WAY more so than the spineless cowards at Comcast, who were willing to stab them in the back in the dark, but ran away crying when their victim refused to act like a victim.

        They get a donation from me too. Fuck Comcast's professional liars.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

      Re:

      I'm sure with the attention this story is recieving in the media, and with Reel Grrls principled stance, they'll have no shortage of sponsorships now.

       

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    •  
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      sumquy (profile), May 20th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

      Re:

      bravo to reel grrrls for standing up to comcast and publicly shaming them into behaving civilly.

      but...

      reel grrls refusing to simply accept comcast quick apology and public backing down is just cutting off their noses to spite their face.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      trish, May 20th, 2011 @ 5:24pm

      Re: JC's comment

      If Reel grrls hadn't gone to the press they would never have apologized. It must have seemed obvious to them as it does to me that Comcast only did this to avoid bad press. Being an arse and then apologizing for it doesn't mean you're not an arse. Besides, the whole point is empowerment, and they do have the power to refuse funding from an arse if they please. Standing up for your values is sometimes more valuable than shutting up for some cash.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 5:38pm

        Re: Re: JC's comment

        So, what? Apologies aren't good enough anymore? I'd hate to have a relationship with you.

        Reel Grrls took Comcast's money even though Comcast has a proven record of being an ass to pretty much everyone. When it actually affected Reel Grrls, though, they suddenly became "principled" and "empowered". What a joke.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 8:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

          You think it's OK for Comcast to change their minds and apologize, but you don't think it's OK for Real Grrls to change their minds and take a principled stand?

           

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          •  
            identicon
            JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 9:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

            My comments on the matter have been quite clear. If you can't understand them then there's nothing I can add to clarify it for you.

             

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        •  
          icon
          The Groove Tiger (profile), May 20th, 2011 @ 9:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

          Person 1: I'm going to hit you!
          Person 2: There's witnesses!
          Person 1: I mean I'm going to hug you!
          Person 2: I really like you!

          I guess that's your ideal world?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 10:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

            Person 1: I insult you!
            Person 2: I'm not giving you any more money!
            Person 1: I'm telling on you for not giving me money after I insulted you!
            Person 3: I'm sorry! Person 2 had no authority to say I'm not giving you money. I still want to give you money. I like what you're doing.
            Person 1: Fuck you! I don't want your money any more. I've discovered that I have principles!

            Ideal world? No. Real world? Yes.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Jose_X, May 21st, 2011 @ 7:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

              @JC,

              So Comcast gets very special treatment from our government, having our tax payer dollars used to defend and protect a Comcast monopoly and exclusive right to profit in certain key ways with public assets.

              Yes, it's rather unfair and many would argue Comcast owes us money and the government needs to stop hindering the rest of us, but let's focus for a moment simply on the free speech issue.

              The federal government hinders our ability to communicate in order to give Comcast exclusive profit opportunities here, yet Comcast now uses those profits to limit the public's speech it doesn't like.

              This would seem like our federal government was complicit in abridging significant public speech.

              So next time someone complains about how Comcast uses the profits they made from monopolies our government blessed them with, I'd give those people a little more benefit of the doubt rather than simply mocking them.

               

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              •  
                identicon
                JC, May 21st, 2011 @ 9:46am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

                What does any of your little lecture have to do with what happened between Comcast and Reel Grrls? Reel Grrls isn't refusing Comcast's money because they think Comcast is a government supported monopoly (which they aren't, by the way).

                It's pretty contorted logic to hear Comcast pulls funding for a charity and immediately think the US government is somehow complicit in abridging free speech.

                 

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      •  
        identicon
        AW, May 20th, 2011 @ 8:19pm

        Re: Re: JC's comment

        Just because someone in an abusive relationship treats you good when they are in a good mood and bad when you step out of line doesn't mean you don't forgive them, it means you forgive them AND get out of the abusive relationship otherwise you are stuck in the cycle of abuse. Obviously you don't know anyone who has been subject to an abusive partner, so you wouldn't understand the importance and relevance of breaking the cycle. This is a very important lesson for young women especially, though again, you probably missed that point.

        It's like the parable of the scorpion and the fox. A scorpion and a fox were at a water crossing, the scorpion asked the fox to swim him across the river, the fox said no, that the scorpion would sting him, the scorpion promises he will not. The fox agree and swims with the scorpion across the river, but midway through the scorpion stings the fox. The fox asks why the scorpion would sting the fox and doom them both and the scorpion says he can't help it, he's a scorpion.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 9:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

          I don't think that Comcast funding your organization would be considered an abusive relationship. This is more like a petty argument between two entities who both benefited from their arrangement. Comcast attempted to repair that relationship, regardless of their motives, and in the same manner, Reel Grrls decided to deny their attempt. Reel Grrls now looks as if they're petty while Comcast almost immediately reversed their decision. Comcast wins.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Jose_X, May 21st, 2011 @ 8:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: JC's comment

            Comcast is not in a position to use profits made on the public's airwaves to fund speech that they like.

            I am sure they fund various activities with the understanding it helps them preserve their monopolies and gain favors from decision-makers at our expense. Whether these favors are in ink or not, it would not fly with the public for them to be given free reign to pick these things. They do not want an angry public given their special privileged position.. especially when it comes to speech control and when its the feds that are supporting them and holding back everyone else (First Amendment violation).

            It's very possible they knew the group would get angry from a "mix-up" and they could always apologize. What they probably are not expecting is that this would help draw more attention to the issue and disgust for Comcast and the feds that partook in this.

             

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 5:44pm

      Re:

      "I wonder how many grrls won't be empowered now. Pretty lame response by Reel Grrls."

      If you don't like the job Reel Grrls is doing, you are perfectly free to start your own media production daycamp and run it however you see fit. I know you won't, cause it's pretty obvious you couldn't care less about "how many grrls won't be empowered now".

       

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      •  
        identicon
        JC, May 20th, 2011 @ 7:30pm

        Re: Re:

        What? Not approving of their response to Comcast's apology and continued support equates with me disapproving of Reel Grrls' mission?

        Your accusation is imbecilic.
        Your challenge is disregarded as challenges from imbeciles usually are.

         

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    •  
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      Bernard Gilroy (profile), May 21st, 2011 @ 5:54am

      Re:

      Big corporation tries to censor you, realizes it looks bad, and tries to buy back its good name. You stand up for your right to free speech, maintain your independence, and show you don't need big corporation's guilt money.

      Hmmm. Seems pretty empowered to me.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Yeah Right, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    On the plus side, it looks like this empowering course really works. Go, girls!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    Comcast execs are, apparently, very easily idiots.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Michael Kohne, May 20th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    I think it would be funnier...

    If Reel Grrls took the Comcast money and did a several-day focus on conflict of interest, using this as an example of something that looks REALLY bad.

     

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    identicon
    Ron, May 20th, 2011 @ 4:28pm

    *slow clap for the reel grrls*

     

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    icon
    sumquy (profile), May 20th, 2011 @ 5:38pm

    wow. seems to be a lot of hate for comcast on here! while i love my cynical corp bashing alter ego as much as the next quy, i don't have any experience personally with them, under that brand. in my part of the country they go by the labels at&t and time warner.

    while i was reading this, though, i actually felt good about comcast. afaik this story broke this morning, and before the sun had set comcast did everything they could to correct the situation. call it a ray of hope, in an otherwise bleak expanse of corporate depravity and gluttony.

    comcast is at its core just a group of people. like people everywhere some of them are very smart and some don't have the sense god gave a doorknob. sometimes the subhuman/doorknob rises to the position of VP of Communications at Comcast. the commendable thing here is that the big chiefs recognized and rectified the disreputable behavior instead of digging in their heels and insisting that they were right.

    public condemnation instead of government regulation FTW!

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Jose_X, May 21st, 2011 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      Comcast is a for-profit business created to maximize this effect. It makes oodles of dough off a federal government granted monopoly on a public resource. It recently took some steps that have drawn a fair amount of attention to them. They lash out at one such group by threatening to use their public asset based monopoly profits to curtail speech. The public anger rightfully continues to grow.

      At some point, you have to believe they will realize their bottom line is aligned with not getting the public more and more and more and more angry. Quick, apologize.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Wolf, May 21st, 2011 @ 12:53am

    JC you make me laugh. Too bad the world is full with clowns like you, or humanity might actually get somewhere.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Joe Klemmer, May 21st, 2011 @ 6:28am

    The fun of online discussions

    Comcast sucks!
    Reel Grrls suck!
    Comcast sucks!
    Reel Grrls suck!
    Comcast sucks!
    Reel Grrls suck!
    Comcast sucks!
    Reel Grrls suck!

    Yep, lots to learn here me boy-o.

    Signed: Color me jaded

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      JC, May 21st, 2011 @ 9:51am

      Re: The fun of online discussions

      Yours is the only comment that says Reel Grrls suck. Interesting that you haven't been able to follow the discussion.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Ed Hands, May 23rd, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    I'm pretty sure....

    that Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech has nothing to do with either Comcast nor Reel Grrls...

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Please note the very first word there..."Congress" Last I checked, Comcast was NOT Congress. Civics 101, people. You may not like it, but there is no protection of Free Speech between individuals. Comcast had every right to pull their funding. Reel Grrls was just being naive to the realities of the world.

     

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    identicon
    VMax, May 23rd, 2011 @ 9:04pm

    The Register

    This story was covered by The Register. "No one covered in glory" http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/21/comcast_reel_grrls_and_shaw/ I responded to their "Uh, they're both wrong". Pissed the writer off. I submit my (and their response). I hope they don't sue for me re-publishing the writer's answer to me.
    > A big company gave them a little more than I give to
    > charities in a year. They called into question, no actual
    > insult, a bad policy decision, and the big guys pull
    > funding. Now a Reg hack says that "both sides were wrong".
    > No, one side was a jerk, one side said "You guys are jerks,
    > and we don't need to be beholden to you". But seems that
    > after pissing off Apple, the Reg is going to bow down to
    > big companies too. I know, it's a business, you can't get
    > ahead if you don't kowtow to big players. It just shows to
    > me that the Reg will slant more towards the big players,
    > and I can't trust any opinion written here.

    If you don't mind me responding, may I say from my pre-journalist years as a fundraising professional, I do believe that you are 100% wrong when it comes to ensuring the health of non-profits and the funding streams they receive from corporations. When one corporate operant makes an error, and their superiors correct it, there's no reason to spit at their largess.

    It was a relatively low-level Comcast bozo who cut Reel Grrls' funding, then his boss put him in his place and re-instated that funding. Then Reel Grrls, rather than accepting Comcast's apology for that low-level jerk-off's over-reaction, decided to get on their high horse and haughtily refuse the reinstatement of the grant. To what purpose? By doing so, they hurt the young women who they were trying to help by refusing funding for their summer school.

    Oh, and your statement: "I know, it's a business, you can't get ahead if you don't kowtow to big players. It just shows to me that the Reg will slant more towards the big players, and I can't trust any opinion written here."

    Hmmm... I guess you don't read much Reg, nor know that, for example, Apple, never even responds to our requests for comment, never allows us to attend product rollouts, and never ... well ... would spit in our mouths if were dying of thirst.

    And calling me a "hack"? Well, I guess that's you're prerogative. May I, in response, call you an uninformed naÔf when it comes to the mechanics of non-profit finding?

    -Rik

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Max, Jun 12th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

    I dont know how I really feel about this, I feel if anything the media is kind've twisting this story to bring up the political hype. Imagine if a Nascar Driver was on tv slandering his sponsors, the natural reaction would be he'd lose his sponsorship. Any idiot would, you don't bite the hand that feeds you. I know Comcast is out in the public, and its easy to twist and point the finger about this being cruel, but take a second to really think about what happened. No person here would continue giving their friend money if they're friend slandered them using that money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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