Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×
China The Media Apple

Foxconn Hires Top Spinners To Defend Its Image 162 162

An anonymous reader writes "Foxconn is insisting that it has done no wrong. But it has hired Burson-Marsteller to deal with the press failout from recent child labour allegations. Burson-Masteller is a PR heavy hitter called in when outfits have big image problems. It handled Tylenol poisonings, and, according to Corporate Watch, the Bhopal disaster, and Three Mile Island. It represented the private military group Blackwater after Baghdad allegations. Its clients have included the Argentinian military junta led by General Jorge Videla and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and Saudi Arabia after it was pointed out that most of the September 11 attackers were from that country."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Foxconn Hires Top Spinners To Defend Its Image

Comments Filter:
  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:04AM (#39157313) Homepage

    Foxconn has done plenty of wrong - consulting with this(or any) PR agency only affirms it. There's only one option that should be on the table - confess the truth no matter how bad it is, correct the wrongdoings of slave labor and mistreatment of their workers, and then make sure it never happens again.

    It's kind of hard to justify your actions when people catch you doing not-so-good-stuff (to say it lightly) and then catch your lies as well. That, and it's even harder to do it when people keep on catching you do it.

  • by philip.paradis (2580427) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:08AM (#39157329)

    Foxconn doesn't care about justifying their actions, or about being honest. Far from it, that's the entire point of hiring major league PR firms. There will be confessing of any truths, but there will be plenty of shiny happy propaganda spewed around the globe.

  • Re:Track Record (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:18AM (#39157377) Homepage

    Doonesbury ran a series of storylines on a firm like that a year or so ago.

    Blaming the Saudis directly for 911 is stretching things slightly: Saudi Arabia is run by religous conservatives mired in the middle ages, the people who carried out the 911 attacks considered the Saudi rulers to be hypocritical liberals. They were incandescent with rage at the Saudi rulers allowing armed infidels onto their sacred soil during the first Gulf War and its aftermath.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:25AM (#39157405)

    Yet we invaded Iraq, killed 100,000+ and our companies are in charge of their oil?

  • Re:Track Record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:38AM (#39157437)

    Saudi Arabia is run by religous conservatives

    No, Saudi Arabia is run by clever, worldly people whose preferred tool for oppression is religious conservatism. If you believe that the Saudi Arabia is ruled by the religious, the USA by bastions of freedom and USSR was controlled selfless communists then the PR has worked on you too.

    Religion is a symptom, not a cause.

  • Countries that treat their citizens with respect and dignity generally don't need help improving their image.
  • by coder111 (912060) <> on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:45AM (#39157457)
    If you screwed your employees or raped the environment or society and walked away with millions or billions in profits, in what way have you failed?

    Remember, corporations have no morals. They cannot have morals by definition. Their only goal and measure of success is profit. If did some bad things and hired a PR company afterwards and still profits are up, you haven't failed.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:55AM (#39157485) Homepage

    Quitting presumes that alternatives exist and that the government wouldn't find some charge to hold them up on if they quit at the wrong time.

  • by migla (1099771) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:04AM (#39157517)

    Slave labor implies these people are held against their will. That is not the case, they can quit any time. It's not Foxconn's fault those people are uneducated and can't find another job...

    Not their fault, but very convenient for them.

    It is wondrous system, funneling money upwards to the owners of the world by means of voluntary association of the poor in China and everyone in between.

    And you can make it too. With a dream, some hard work and sticktoitiveness, you too can be a multinational megacorporation and bazillionaire.

    The playingfield is not level, though, so in general, the richer you allready are, the more likely you are to make even more money in the babylon system.

    If you have the nerve to be ruthless, not hesitating to trample down your fellow earthicans in the climb up, up, up the ziggurat, you'll have an edge.

    Good Luck!

  • by jpapon (1877296) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:09AM (#39157531) Journal
    I didn't know there was a difference between a PR firm and a "propaganda" firm.
  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:29AM (#39157587) Journal

    He's not saying he doesn't have any morals. He's saying that they haven't failed at all, seeing as the only thing that they've done wrong is betray morals that they literally cannot have.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:38AM (#39157603) Homepage

    ...and then close your business. You forgot that part.

    Labor markets are a tricky thing. The only way to do away with such practices is to make them all stop unilaterally. Someone here on slashdot related a story about a town in the south where slavery was made illegal while all surrounding areas still permitted it. It wasn't long before competition was able to have its affect on the town and they had to permit slavery after all. Those WalMart prices are simply too irresistible.

    But this is the norm all across the planet. Occupy protesters on iPhones and on and on. Even the protesters support this kind of human exploitation. Business, left unchecked, can and will ruin humanity. Regulations on the markets and exchanges have proven to be necessary for decades and even centuries. Regulations on utilities have shown to be necessary. Any time or place where there is an unlimited demand (power, fuel, food, air, water, etc) or an artificial control on an unlimited or otherwise natural supply (copyright, creativity, knowledge, information, seeds, etc) you will find business [run and directed by humans] trying to leverage those things to their most potential even and including at the cost of human lives... 10s, 100s, 1000s, 1000000s of lives... they don't care. Apple doesn't care. Consumers don't care. The few who care have to make the difference and it has to be someone's job to care so that others don't have to. That's what government is supposed to be there for.

    Granted, that's not the way things are.

  • by DaveGod (703167) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:43AM (#39157613)

    Foxconn has done plenty of wrong - consulting with this(or any) PR agency only affirms it.

    No it doesn't. All it indicates is that Foxconn perceives advantages from improving it's public relations. Anything else you wish to take from it is merely reaching from your personal subjectivity and preconceptions.

    Maybe Foxconn has done wrong and seeks to spin the story to it's advantage. Maybe.

    Or maybe it's done wrong and seeks to do right - PR firms don't only offer consulting for public communications, they can help guide genuine change within a company. Often "bad guy" companies have such a corporate culture because the board have a lack of expertise and influence on how and why to be a "good guy" company, a PR firm can fill in that gap. Any year one, nay, week one marketing student

    Or, maybe the media have got it wrong and Foxconn seek to get the truth out there. Perhaps Foxconn are good guys and these reports are all lies. Well OK, probably not, but it's entirely plausable Foxconn's failings and their lack of response have at least been exaggerated in the media. When was the last time you read an article or watched a news report on something you have a very high level of knowledge about, and shook your head about how completely they'd got it wrong? Maybe I should re-phrase that: can you recall the last time they got it right?

    I'm not trying to argue any of the above is the case, merely outline a few of the possibilities. Slashdot generally has a healthy respect for science on issues that clearly fit within the realm of science, but it would be easy to read the submissions and comments and conclude it's readership is totally incapable of applying any of it's lessons for any other topic.

  • Re:Track Record (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 25, 2012 @09:44AM (#39157829)
    Money and petty power struggles mired in deeply seeded inertia-laden cultural institutions that have a surprising influence on the first two and can at best only be manipulated and guided rather than completely deconstructed.
  • by retroworks (652802) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:10AM (#39157959) Homepage Journal

    How is this an eyebrow raising story? Is Tylenol somehow like Bohpol? Tylenol was a corporation which was a victim of an attack on its brand and business practice, and hired a PR firm and made changes to bottle caps which are taught as the textbook business response to a press emergency. Having been to Foxconn / Han Hai and worked with people from there, and having read the hysterical descriptions of their operations in the USA press, I think they deserve credit for A) having already identified a scaleability problem (plan to put in robot labor), B) having raised the salaries significantly within weeks of the bad press, and now C) hiring a professional western PR firm to help them in a dilemma in western PR.

    I'm not excusing everything that has happened in the course of Han Hoi Precision's growth curve, but they seem to be handling the industrial revolution reform at a pace in years rather than decades. Sure some of it is reaction to criticism, but rapid response is not the same as "cover up"! Some commenters seem to have no default setting between fanboy/troll, and any story with Foxconn in a headline becomes 5-Mod v. 0-Mod debate, more like American politics than indication that anyone is in any way concerned about China's development, pollution, or unemployment balance.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:32AM (#39158067)
    Do you actually live in China because you seem to profess much about a situation you have no clue? These people can quit. No one will hunt them down. The problem is that a competitor is likely only to have the same or worse conditions.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:38AM (#39158091) Homepage Journal

    Sometimes you can confess but in such a way as to minimise the damage, and thus prevent a worse response should the information become public later on.

    And sometimes you hire a major public relations firm and spend the money on spin instead of addressing the problem.

  • by wisty (1335733) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:46AM (#39158135)

    A boring, brief admissions is what PR firms usually advise, right? It ends the news cycle, because there's nothing more to dig up. Then you drip feed out some good stuff.

    Good PR firms don't spin when things are bad. They take control of the news cycle, but in a really boring way.

    Foxconn doesn't want PR. They don't care what you think of them, as long as you stop talking about them. And the best way to do that is to release dry boring facts.

    Rebuilding their reputation will take years. Remember Nike? They ran sweatshops. It's taken them over a decade to lose that stain, despite being good employers. Foxconn doesn't need good PR now. They need to shut down the speculation-driven media cycle, but putting out boring but informative releases. They need a good PR firm when they have something positive to work with, and when people don't hate them so much, in a year or so.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @10:51AM (#39158167)

    Most here only seem to see the sensationalism of certain aspects and ignore details that make the story less interesting.

    Workers sometimes work 30 hours straight during a rush period for which they were paid for every hour. I've worked 36 hour shifts myself during plant startup/shutdown but since I was salaried I didn't get any extra pay.
    These workers live in company dormitories because the surrounding areas have no housing for them. If the company didn't built dorms, they could not attract any workers.
    Workers don't have hot running water in their dorms much like the surrounding area.
    Workers don't even know their roommates which is not unlike large, densely populated cities where neighbors don't know each other especially if they don't share the same work shift.
    Workers work for little pay according to US wages. For China their wages are better than normal.
    There have been 20 suicides in the last two years for a work population of nearly 1 million which is well below the national average.

    I don't pretend that work conditions are the best in the world. It's a minimum wage factory job and some people don't like those jobs whether they are in China or on an assembly line in the US. For the most part, Foxconn doesn't really care about their workers any more than a company should. They don't go out of their way to harm workers which some people seem to think.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 25, 2012 @12:52PM (#39158819)


    And suddenly, without any evidence whatsoever, the name "Apple" has been added to the list.

    Then you accuse others of being dishonest. Hmm.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @02:00PM (#39159301)

    You do realise that in true capitalism, there is absolutely no caring about who controls the capital. The importance is that capital controls everything but its owner.

    In this regard, China is far more capitalist then the West, where there are a lot of regulations to address the biggest flaws of capitalism.

  • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @07:49PM (#39160997) Homepage Journal

    Capitalism IS despotism. The hierarchy in a corporation is usually very fucking clear, and perfectly totalitarian.

  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday February 25, 2012 @08:51PM (#39161317) Journal
    Apple has been deeply involved from the start. When the complaints of children working in poor conditions at FoxConn were raised, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) complained that Apple tipped off Foxconn that the inspectors were coming and executives assigned child workers elsewhere.

    And while Apple now use Reverb for their astroturfing, they're no strangers to Burson-Marsteller either. These business relationships run deep and muddy.

Without life, Biology itself would be impossible.