Much like the Thanksgiving day NFL games, football has been part of my classic fall tradition since I was a little kid. I grew up in Oakland, CA home of the Oakland Raiders. One of my family’s restaurants was located on the corner of 6th and Oak Street and the Raiders played next door temporarily at the Frank Youell Field while their permanent home, the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, was under construction. Today that field is part of Laney College. Over the seasons we got to be friendly with the team and from time to time, scored some free tickets as they were hard to come by; It was rare we ever missed a game during the season.

With over 13 Billion in total revenue in 2016 alone, the NFL football has successfully progressed with our nation’s capitalist system selling million dollars 30-second ad spots for the Super Bowl, the single-greatest televised event, ever. It is so widely viewed that the servers at Autotrader crashed following the record traffic of an estimated 135 Million viewers from Autotrader’s unforgettable 2000 Super Bowl Ad, I Need a Car! Football provides the stage for corporations to promote their brand along with their products and services.

While baseball is America’s pastime, football evokes passion like no other. Steve Deace, a nationally-syndicated radio host, wrote in USA Today that “Americans are passionate about football because it embodies everything we love about American exceptionalism. Merit is rewarded, not punished. Masculinity is celebrated, not feminized. People of various beliefs and backgrounds — a melting pot, if you will — must unify for a common goal for the team to be successful. In football, fortune favors the bold, just as it once did in the American frontier. But football also sprinkles in the right amount of fairness by letting the bad teams draft first in the NFL, so there’s at least a chance that one day the glass slipper fits Cinderella.”

Today, with the NFL boycott in full force as more football players protest during the National Anthem and President Donald Trump has spoken out against them, the consumer response has been swift and unforgiving with 30%+ of stadiums across the US empty as ticket sales continue to plummet with fans firing back at the National Football League for not taking action. Pictures of empty stadiums on social media, like the Mercedes Benz Stadium before Atlanta Falcons vs Miami Dolphins NFL football game on 10/15/2017, are the best way to see just how powerful the boycott truly is. This past week Credit Suisse lowered its price targets on both Fox and CBS stock, citing ongoing rating(s) declines for the NFL’s television broadcasts.

The NFL is not the only example with consumer backlash. One of the most vivid examples earlier this year involved United Airlines; United airlines faced a social media firestorm earlier this year as a result of a security guard forcibly removing a passenger on an overbooked flight by dragging him down the aisle while passenger(s) nearby filmed the incident with smartphones and shared the video on social media for the world to see. Consumers responded with outrage, resulting in stock prices falling significantly in the days following the incident.

Who do you trust?

Consumer trust is an all-time low. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an in-depth survey of over 33,000 people in over 28 countries run by the global PR firm Edelman to gauge credibility and trust across the world, we as consumers now turn to social media for news, relying on our own networks for information and credibility as trust with traditional sources continues to drop. This comes as no surprise with recent headlines like:

Pressure on NBC exec to resign after revelation he dined with sex creep Harvey Weinstein before spiking expose

Equifax hack may shake up US consumer data laws

Rick Pitino is suing Adidas for ‘outrageous, wrongful, and illegal conspiracy’ after being fired from Louisville amidst a bribery scandal

Muhammad Ali Enterprises Sues Fox For $30 Million Over Super Bowl Ad

France Cracks down on Photoshopped Bodies in Ads

Now more than ever, there is a need for businesses to rebuild trust with consumers in a genuinely open, and honest manner, demonstrating good corporate citizenship in addition to the value the business offers to its’ consumers. To rebuild trust, Edelman suggests:

  • Treat your employees well — your employees are your biggest advocates and empower them to speak. They will be the first to tell you what’s going right and opportunities to improve.
  • Engage in meaningful conversation with clients– be transparent and engage in real conversations with clients and ask them what is and is not working.
  • Actions speak– Demonstrate how your business supports your local community(s) and show your values in action.
  • Evolve your marketing strategy — Traditional marketing methods are no longer enough; consumers want to see an authentic voice online. While there was a decline in trust across all media channels, search engines showed a positive growth in trust. Sharing of client reviews, original content, blogging and connecting on a more personal level are more important than ever.

Your brand value is what the marketplace says it is and forming an emotional connection(s) based on a transparency, trust, living out corporate values while delivering a consistent experience is imperative. Consumers will engage with the brands they can identify and share values with.

Actions Speak

I have been fortunate to be part of a remarkable organization for the last 25 years that places people at the center of everything we do, not only supporting its employees but dedicated to the communities in all areas we do business.

Through partnerships with leading organizations such as American Rivers, Ocean Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, 100 Black Men of America, the National Urban League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, American Red Cross, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, Atlanta Ronald McDonald House and Human Rights Campaign, Cox Enterprises seeks to create lasting change for a sustainable future.

In 2016 alone, more than 5,400Cox Automotive team members participated in volunteer projects. Employees, together with their family and friends, donated in excess of 60,000volunteer hours benefiting more than 700 community organizations.

To support the team members impacted by unforeseen circumstances, the Cox Employee Relief Fund (CERF) was created to aid employees across the company impacted by natural disasters. CERF has assisted more than 2,500 people affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other devastating events.

Community Impact Award presented by Manheim

During Used Car Week we honor and recognize someone within the auto remarketing industry that shares our values and has demonstrated strong contributions to their community over the past 12 months. The selected remarketer will receive $10,000 to a local charity of choice in addition to being recognized during the conference.

Act Now. Be Bold. Stay True

In today’s ever-changing economic climate, change is inevitable, and the values of a company will drive the business forward. Governor James M. Cox once said, “Ask yourself one question, is it right?” Today, we still live by those words by doing what’s right for our customers, for our communities and each other. The innovative spirit of Cox that has driven our progress over generations will continue guiding us into the future, as we transform the way the world buys, sells and owns cars.

#ponyupforacause #ARMHC #coxautomotive #rmsautomotive #coxenterprises

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