Verizon Rolls Over: Company Apologizes for Sponsoring Climate-Denier Rally

A few days late and a thousand dollars short.  That's how I'd describe the belated victory over Verizon Wireless.  I mean, I appreciate the sentiment, Lowell, but really, this embarrassing episode for your company easily could have been avoided.

OK, let me back up for a second.  Recall that Verizon Wireless unintentionally (perhaps) and unnecessarily (for sure) got itself embroiled in a controversy that sparked a backlash from thousands of its customers.  You see, several customers -- like me -- were quite shocked and, frankly, ticked off to learn that Verizon Wireless paid $1000 to sponsor the so-called Friends of America rally in West Virginia on Labor Day.  This event, put on by Massey coal baron Don Blankenship, was a free concert featuring global warming deniers, right-wing pundits, and reckless-rhetoric-spewing rockers who gathered on the site of a mountantop mining site to promote an extreme anti-environmental political agenda.

Verizon Wireless, which markets itself as environmentally friendly, clearly made a mistake affiliating its brand with this anti-"green" rally.  But instead of heeding customer complaints by withdrawing its sponsorship, company officials first tried to play clueless about the overt political aspect of the event, and then stubbornly stayed the course for fear of angering the coal crowd.

[If you want more details, check out my previous blog on this and then work your way backwards through my many posts over the past week or so.]

Well, yesterday the CEO of Verizon Wireless, Mr. Lowell "Mea Culpa" McAdam, offered a public apology -- in the form of a letter to the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that organized around this issue. 

In an effort to "set the record straight," McAdams explains that Verizon Wireless' sponsorship was not meant as an expression of support for the coal industry's political agenda.  He insists that the company does not support mountaintop removal coal mining, nor does it oppose federal climate legislation.  He goes on to clarify that Verizon Wireless "supports the goals of policy makers who are committed to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment."  McAdams then takes the opportunity to tout Verizon's corporate commitment to sustainability.

[UPDATE: The Center for Biological Diversty sent a hard-hitting follow-up letter to Verizon Wireless.  Check it out here.]

So there you have it: Verizon Wireless' belated apology for violating its stated environmental values, undermining its credibility as a "green" company, and breaking its trust with customers.

Kudos to each and everyone of you who contacted the company to voice your views and concerns about the situation.  Looks like Verizon Wireless heard