Media releases

  • Brock researcher looking for Canada Games stories

    MEDIA RELEASE: 30 July 2020 – R0121

    Canadians across the country are invited to share their Canada Games story as part of a new crowd-sourced digital history project.

    The Canada Games Collection, spearheaded by Brock University Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak, will be a publicly available collection of diverse stories of people’s experiences of past Canada Games.

    “We’re creating a collection of material that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Canada,” said Vlossak. She hopes Canadians of all backgrounds and experiences will share their stories, whether positive or negative.

    The project came about as Vlossak was preparing for her new course, Making History in Niagara, which will see students create an online museum exhibition about the Games to launch in time for the 2021 Canada Summer Games in Niagara next August. Vlossak discovered there weren’t many sources for students to work with and decided to create this new collection.

    “We had originally imagined the collection would consist of oral history interviews we are conducting with past Canada Games Council members, high-profile athletes and Games officials,” she said. “But as the project evolved, we realized that these should not be the only voices and narratives that we include in the collection.”

    Vlossak thought it would be important to include the stories of a more diverse range of Canadians, young and old, about their experiences and memories of the Games.

    “We decided that crowd-sourcing would allow us to reach out to more people and capture these personal and local memories more effectively,” she said.

    Vlossak is asking people with Canada Games memories, whether as athletes, coaches, local organizers, volunteers or attendees to share their images and thoughts about their experiences through the project’s website.

    Crowd-sourced material, including digitized Canada Games artifacts, will form part of the larger collection featuring interviews with individuals about their experiences and exploring themes such as race, class, gender, disability, immigration and Indigenous rights.

    Vlossak and Brock History master’s student Jessica Linzel, who was awarded a Match of Minds grant to help the professor build the collection, will contact some participants for follow-up interviews.

    “I’m looking forward to hearing the stories of those who have been involved in or affected by the Canada Games, and learning more about how the Games have helped shape people’s identities as Canadians in sport,” says Linzel. “I’m also excited to see the types of material we gain through crowd-sourcing and getting to see how different people have experienced the Canada Games in their lifetime.”

    The public are invited to upload their images, such as personal photos from the Games, medals, or memorabilia, and to reflect on what the Games meant to them.

    The Canada Games Collection, hosted by Brock’s Special Collections and Archives, will become available to the public in October and will be an important source for students to build their online museum, as well as for future researchers. The collection is part of a larger project also launching this fall, called the Sport Oral History Archive, which Vlossak is co-leading with Julie Stevens, Associate Professor in Sport Management and Special Advisor to the President, Canada Games.

    Brock University Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak is available for media interviews.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

     * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock prof says amid online criticism, companies must sometimes ‘offend people’ to stand by values

    MEDIA RELEASE: 29 July 2020 – R0120

    For the second time this year, Hallmark Channel is facing a boycott by angry viewers. Brock University Assistant Professor of Marketing Joachim Scholz says it’s OK for companies to take a moral stand, even if that means offending some people.

    After teasing their Christmas movies earlier this month, Hallmark Channel was immediately criticized for their lack of LGTBQ2S+ content. Hallmark responded by announcing they were in negotiations to incorporate LGTBQ2S+ characters and storylines into new Christmas movies.

    A week later, Christian conservative group One Million Moms launched a petition threatening to boycott Hallmark if they continued to air LGTBQ2S+ content. The petition now stands at more than 38,000 signatures.

    Scholz, who researches consumer reactions on social media in Brock’s Goodman School of Business, says the Hallmark controversy is an opportunity for the company’s new CEO to demonstrate Hallmark Channel’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity by taking a stand against the critics, instead of responding to the crisis by apologizing.

    His research shows that, although using an appeasement strategy to respond to online crisis is effective and necessary for criticism based on poor product quality, more than 60 per cent of social media firestorms are based on moral beliefs and require a different response he calls an escalation strategy.

    “In a morally infused crisis, whether or not the company has done anything wrong is a matter of perspective,” he says. “Hallmark Channel is in a tug of war between the people who criticize them for including LGTBQ2S+ content and those who advocate for it.”

    Scholz says in today’s highly polarized social media landscape, it’s no longer possible to please everyone.

    “In order to execute on a proclaimed value system, companies need to escalate the conversation and risk offending people,” he says.

    This isn’t the first time Hallmark Channel has found itself in the middle of a social media controversy. In January, One Million Moms petitioned to remove an ad the network aired for a wedding planning smartphone app that showed a same-sex couple kissing. The company pulled the ad, only to receive backlash from members of the LGTBQ2S+ community. Hallmark eventually reinstated the ad.

    “After flip-flopping between two morally opposed camps, Hallmark won neither battle,” Scholz says. “Now that they’re in a similar situation, the company needs to take a stand and stick to it.”

    In his research, Scholz found brands that took a moral position and fought back against online critics who didn’t align with their values increased their brand positioning through positive media mentions and stronger relationships with customers who shared the company’s values.

    “Nike demonstrated their support of the Black Lives Matter movement early, before seemingly every company was on board,” he says. “Now in 2020, when Nike released a second ad in support of the same movement, it came across as sincere and authentic rather than opportunistic. Similarly, Hallmark needs to take a clear and decisive moral stand on their views to include LGTBQ2S+ content into their Christmas movies.”

    Scholz says although escalating against the conservative Christian community, who make up a large percentage of Hallmark Channel’s audience, would be a risky move in the short term, the benefits will be seen in the long term.

    “Hallmark needs to put the same amount of effort into responding to online critics as they have been in responding to customers who praise them for including LGTBQ2S+ content, possibly even as far as telling the customer that they don’t share the same values and they may need to find another Christmas movie channel that does,” he says. “That would be a very strong signal that would reclaim Hallmark some legitimacy after a year or so of staying quiet on the topic, and lead to long-term brand growth.”

    Brock University Assistant Professor of Marketing Joachim Scholz is available for media interviews.

    A video of Scholz speaking about his research on social media firestorms can found on YouTube here.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews: 

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University ddakin@brocku.ca or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases