By Geoffrey James
The worst PR nightmares are the ones that tread upon long-held cultural taboos. These are the brand scandals that shocked the business world over the past year.
The Scandal: A distribution center provided training materials containing advice that not all Hispanics employees wear sombreros.
The Outcome: Target--which insisted that the training materials were a fluke--got sued by its employees.
The Scandal: Even seasoned gamers raised a collective eyebrow when the xBox One demonstration at E3 consisted of a male avatar beating up a female avatar while suggesting that she was enjoying it.
The Outcome: Social and business pundits questioned anew why video game culture is so hostile to women.
The Scandal: The online magazine published fashion spread featuring models dressed famous female writers who committed suicide.
The Outcome: The magazine was widely criticized for being insensitive and trivializing female writers.
The Scandal: The lingerie giant started to market "Bright Young Things," a line of sexy underwear targeted towards tweens and young teens.
The Outcome: Moms and Dads protested and the company subsequently pulled the line.
The Scandal: An ad agency in India--without Ford's approval--posted an idea to promote Ford using a cartoon that featured three women tied up in the back of a car.
The Outcome: The employees responsible for the ad were fired.
Abercrombie and Fitch
The Scandal: CEO Mike Jeffries insisted he only wanted to sell clothing to the people who were "thin and beautiful."
The Outcome: Protesters began posting Youtube videos of homeless people being given free A&F clothing.
The Scandal: The new, air-conditioned 45,000 seat stadium that Qatar built for the 2020 FIFA World Cup turned out to resemble a part of the human reproductive system.
The Outcome: Nothing because the stadium is already built.
The Scandal: Women's groups began pointing out that thousands of Facebook pages glorified violence against women..
The Outcome: The social networking giant finally suppressed the misogynistic pages.
The Scandal: An the illustration on the billboard resembled a famous German dictator.
The Outcome: Online sales of the teapot went through the roof.
The Scandal: The popular sportswear vendor stocked workout pants with see-through bottoms.
The Outcome: CEO Christine Day was forced to resign.
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