A brand name is everything, especially when you’re huge, and for an event to sully your good name can lead to some serious and financially-damaging blowback.
Some marketing companies are so good that we’ve completely forgotten – or never really knew – how dark of a past these brands actually have…but lucky for us, the good folks at Reddit are here to enlighten us.
By the way… these are coming from Reddit, so please treat the information accordingly…
1. It keeps going away, under the rug.
Wells Fargo, not sure they’re entirely viewed positive today but they’ve been full of crooks for years.
that whole controversy like a year or two ago where they opened alternate accounts under customers names (without informing those customers) just to have an excuse to charge more fees and inflate their profits?
They also f*ck around with your mortgage. I had a boss once who complained at least once every few months about how Wells Fargo penalized him for trying to pay more than the minimum monthly payment.
God forbid you act responsibly and pay the debt off sooner. 😛
2. Cheap labor.
Let’s not forget Mitsubishi used P.O.W. slave labor during WW2.
had a great grandpa who was a marine who fought in the pacific theater, and h**ed mitsubishi with a passion. refused to speak to my dad for 2 weeks after my dad bought a mitsubishi car.
never understood why until my dad handed me a model of a mitsubishi Zero and then explained to me how he watched a lot of his buddies d** due to kamikaze pilots flying mitsubishi zero’s crash into hangers and buildings.
3. Well that’s completely awful,
They fed radioactive oatmeal to autistic and disabled children to study the effects, without informing the children or the parents. This was from the mid 1940’s to the mid 1950’s.
There’s actually a LOT of sources.
The two most prominent places this occurred are Wrentham State School and Fernald School. Basic overview helpfully packaged for anyone who doesn’t want to google “quaker oats radioactive”
Also, the youtuber Illuminaughtii did a video on this and she lists her own sources in the description.
4. There are other whiskeys.
James Jameson bought and fed a girl to a cannibal tribe.
It’s highly debated if it’s true. However he wrote about it himself personally but he was also consider to be a bat sh%t crazy.
Which is saying something coming from an Irish family with a sh%t ton of money and an unlimited whiskey supply.
5. No one becomes a billionaire for free.
Microsoft under Bill Gates and Steve Balmer paid staff to sabotage competitor’s software.
Later on, one of the first instances of this got named “DOS isn’t done until Lotus won’t run”.
As an analogy, pretend Microsoft made and sold Michelin tires; it was like they paid people to go in to parking lots and slash your car’s tires if you had bought Bridgestone, Goodyear, Yokohama, or Pirelli. It did make Bill Gates one of the richest men in the world, though.
6. Say it ain’t so.
Apparently Apple. They were knowingly using child labour for about 3 years along with using people in concentration camps in China to manufacture their parts.
They sure did use people in concentration camps to manufacture their parts! Along with all these other companies who also used forced labor from Uighur Muslims in Chinese internment camps:
Abercrombie & Fitch, Acer, Adidas, Alstom, Amazon, ASUS, BAIC Motor, Bestway, BMW, Bombardier, Bosch, BYD, Calvin Klein, Candy, Carter’s, Cerruti 1881, Changan Automobile, Cisco, CRRC, Dell, Electrolux, Fila, Founder Group, GAC Group (automobiles), Gap, Geely Auto, General Motors, Google, Goertek, H&M, Haier, Hart Schaffner Marx, Hisense, Hitachi, HP, HTC, Huawei, iFlyTek, Jack & Jones, Jaguar, Japan Display Inc., L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Land Rover, Lenovo, LG, Li-Ning, Mayor, Meizu, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Mitsumi, Nike, Nintendo, Nokia, Oculus, Oppo, Panasonic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, SAIC Motor, Samsung, SGMW, Sharp, Siemens, Skechers, Sony, TDK, Tommy Hilfiger, Toshiba, Tsinghua Tongfang, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, Vivo, Volkswagen, Xiaomi, Zara, Zegna, ZTE
7. Bloody hands all around.
Boy, my time to shine has come. One december day in 2017, when I was between schools and doing odd jobs, I was doing a sort of promotional thing for a company called Degusa. They’re a German company, who today specializes in Gold and other precious metals. Essentially, me and the others occupied several positions in Zurich’s main station to hand out chocolates and flyers to passersby.
Well, the day goes on, I go home, and tell my dad about what I did today, as you do. He goes on to explain how that company was in the headlines shortly after WWII for manufacturing Zyklon B, the pesticide used in the gas chambers of N**i concentration camps. They’re viewed fairly ok, but this is a stain on their history.
8. How do we not learn about this?
Union Carbide. Dark history? Hawk’s Mountain.
It’s been called America’s worst industrial disaster. The construction of a three-mile-long tunnel to carry the New River through Gauley Mountain in West Virginia cost as many as 2,000 workers their lives.
At least 764 of the 1,213 men who worked underground at Hawk’s Nest for at least two months d**d within five years of the tunnel’s completion, having contracted silicosis as the result of drilling through miles of rock to build a hydro-electric plant for Union Carbide, which owned the tunnel.
Some 5,000 men worked on the project from March 1930 to December 1931, earning 25 cents an hour and working 60 hours a week. Many of the workers were African-American, and came to West Virginia to work on the project. As they began getting sick with what company doctors called “tunnelitis,” they were unable to return to their homes and those who didn’t d** in their beds in the company-owned worker camps were driven out of town to d** in nearby towns or were put on trains and sent home.
9. The mafia loved them.
Not quite as dark as others, but Nintendo started out as a failing business.
At the same time, everyone stopped making Hanafuda cards because they had become popular with the Yakuza.
So Nintendo saw this as a perfect opportunity and their cards were very popular with organized crime bosses.
In the 60s and 70s, these cards were no longer quite as popular and Nintendo tried all sorts of ventures (a taxi service, a disc-shape remote control vacuum cleaner, their own brand of LEGO-like bricks).
One of these was a love hotel – essentially a hotel where one would arrange a meeting with a prostitute. They eventually settled on video games.
I’d probably say Chiquita (formerly the United Fruit Company). What I thought was an innocent fruit company has actually been involved in American intervention in Latin America for decades.
I don’t remember all of the details so I could be wrong, but here’s an example. When the then-president of Guatemala Jacobo Árbenz instituted land reforms that would’ve taken away a large chunk of United Fruit land, United Fruit lobbied to the CIA and argued that the government was aligned with the Soviets. Moreover, the Director of the CIA at the time, Allen Dulles, was a board member of United Fruit. His brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, worked for a corporate firm that represented United Fruit. There were a lot more people in government who had deep ties to United Fruit. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Árbenz was f**ked; the CIA overthrew him.
After the overthrow the CIA installed a military dictatorship that reversed the land reforms and exacted revenge on trade unions among other groups/people aligned with Árbenz. This and other like interventions led to the coinage of the term “Banana republic” to describe such a servile dictatorship.”
11. They were nothing if not organized.
IBM sold the N**is punch card computers to keep track of every person in concentration camps. The computers also kept the trains running on time.
Not only that. They set up a subsidiary with Germany specifically to do this, even though America said American companies weren’t allowed to do business with them anymore. It wasn’t even like “IBM built computers and the N**is bought them.”
They specifically set up a secret company and designed these computers especially for them. Apparently it’s why they don’t ever give interviews.
11. The way I just wrinkled my nose…
Henry Ford helped with the invention of square dancing because “ Ford h**ed jazz; he h**ed the Charleston.
He also really h**ed Jewish people, and believed that Jewish people invented jazz as part of a nefarious plot to corrupt the masses and take over the world—a theory that might come as a surprise to the black people who actually did invent it.”
12. Nothing ever changes.
H&M is now recognized and beloved as a sustainable, eco-friendly company with great worker rights but they used to be really corrupt and would use underpaid workers in 3rd world countries who worked in horrible and dangerous conditions, they also used to use horrible cheap materials that would cause massive pollution and wouldn’t be able to be recycled….oh wait, they still do that, my bad you guys!
Oh! Don’t forget that H&M is one of the brands that use forced labor of the Uighurs in the concentration camps.
We are in 2021 and their clothes are literally made by slaves.
13. A banana republic.
Chiquita. They once funded rebels in a South American country to overthrow the government, in order to have land to build banana plantations.
Banana plantations are famously laborious places. If you’ve ever heard the song “come mister tally man, tally me banana”, that’s what it is about.
Chiquita used to be the United Fruit Company. When banana laborers went into strike and organized protests, they got the US government to put pressure on the Colombian army to violently repress it, the army basically just opened fire over unarmed protestors then tried to cover up the whole thing, up till now there’s no real number for the amount of d**ths, but probably around a thousand. 100 years of solitude has a reference to this event. I refuse to buy bananas with chiquita stickers.
14. Have they cleaned up their act?
Bayer. They paid to test its drugs on unwilling human subjects.
These included paying a retainer to SS physician Helmuth Vetter to test Rutenol and other sulfonamide drugs on deliberately infected patients at the Dachau, Auschwitz, and Gusen. They also had prisoners purposefully infected with typhus so that could test anti-typhus drugs. IG Farben also manufactured the cans of Zyklon B gas that were used in Auschwitz’s gas chambers.
(IG Farben was a massive conglomerate that included Bayer and other major companies such as BASF, Hoechst (Aventis), and AGFA)
15. Has anything changed?
Dupont is still one of the largest textile companies in the world and Dark Waters was a true story
If you haven’t seen it do. It’s about how making teflon poisons everything forever.
One guy spent over a decade working pro bono against DuPont when they poisoned an entire West Virginia town. DuPont set their army of lawyers against him. And he f**king thrashed them. One client after another, one by one, got them multi/million dollar settlements and bled DuPont dry. It was just him. He didn’t have a team. He left his firm because they represented DuPont and he was disgusted by them.
After he won a 4th or 5th settlement in a row, each one bigger than the last, DuPont surrendered and paid out over half a billion dollars to the poor citizens of that town.
16. What a world.
Bosch made the shower heads or look like shower heads for the gas chambers.
But yes, most companies today that went through WWII did military contracts most likely to survive, I would assume.
17. Fruit causes so much trouble.
Dole (the fruit company) organized the overthrow of the indigenous government on Hawaii so it could join the USA.
19. Always double check your charity.
Susan G. Komen.
More people volunteer their time and money for it than any other breast cancer charity.
I vaguely recall they kept almost half of the donations for themselves (they called it administration expenses).
They’ve also been labeled with pinkwashing, defined as organizations getting disproportionate publicity for donating very little.
Charity Navigator had rated them one of the worst charities for breast cancer. Bottom ten percent.
19. What is the matter with people?
Continental Tires. Stock for Mercedes and other luxury cars. They tested their durability by making WW2 camp prisoners walk in shoes made with their rubber soles upward to 30 miles each day. Many collapsed and d**d from dehydration and from being malnourished already.
the ones administering the quality control test didn’t care if the shoes fit the tester. Imagine walking 30 miles in shoes a couple sizes too small.
the company makes more than just tires, but it’s mostly known for its tires. From a New York Times article:
“While supplying the German military with tires, bullet-resistant fuel tanks, gas masks and brakes for battle tanks, Continental and its subsidiaries also produced consumer products like soles for shoes and hot water bottles that helped fulfill the regime’s promise to deliver prosperity to the German people.”
I was watching those WW2 documentaries and one of the episodes focused on companies that benefitted from the war. A good portion of the episode mentioned Continental (a company who is reconciling with its past and is making positive commendable effort to not hide it) and other companies (I forgot which big company that was mentioned, but it’s still not taking any responsibility for abusing war prisoners). Total coincidence that I had replaced all four Continental tires with another set two days prior.
20. Hollywood has a dark history.
Not a specific company, but an industry: Hollywood.
During the late 1930s Hollywood put a ban on anti-N**i propaganda in films since they had a big market in Europe and didn’t want to step on toes.
The notable exception was Warner Brothers. Jack and Harry Warner family left Germany and came to America.
The brothers saw the threat of Fascism. They were the first studio to create anti-Hitler content.
21. They’re more than what they seem.
On the same note, Bayer. Their researchers tested on people in the camps.
People think, “Oh, the Aspirin dudes”. Yeah. that and chemical weapons and human testing.
And now agricultural chemicals . I believe their old parent company was convicted of violations and dismantled for their participation.
22. Bloody hands.
They’ve distanced themselves from the blood diamond trade recently by claiming ‘conflict-free’ mining and starting programs focused on local entrepreneurship, but the scars across Africa remain today.
Millions have been k**led.
23. Why, though?
Food Lion had a scandal in the early nineties where they bleached meat and repackaged it.
There was a case about 20 years ago where an undercover reporter slipped into a Food Lion and filmed what they were doing.
What they were doing was pretty bad. Food Lion actually sued the reporter and news organization for trespassing, and kind of unbelievably, they won
This was quite the landmark case in undercover journalism.
24. Don’t trust anyone.
the fact that the person that made the .zip stole it and got praised for it.
People share their inventions with their friends without patenting it, a friend steals it and makes more money on a stolen invention than the original inventor will.
A tip to anyone making anything new: PATENT IT BEFORE YOU SHOW ANYONE (if you can afford it). I mean anyone. A patent shows its your invention in the eye of the government, and you’ll be protected from someone else taking the idea. If you can afford it, take out a patent. If you can’t afford it, be very careful who you talk to about the details of your invention or go open source.
25. The rubber industry has its own problems.
Firestone tires also has a little civil war problem. They propped up one side of the Liberian Civil War, which featured a lot of child soldiers and machetes.
It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from an oil company or maybe a mining group. But tires seem so wholesome!
26. We should know her name.
Parker Brothers and the story of Monopoly. Charles Darrow essentially took an open source game originally made by Lizzie Magie and sold it to Parker Brothers, who learned about the original game and bought rights to the patent.
They tried to sue Ralph Anspach for making Anti-Monopoly in the 1970s, but the early history of Monopoly worked against Parker Brothers and they eventually had to settle with Anspach.
Charles Darrow and Parker Brothers may have popularized the game, but credit for the game should go to Lizzie Magie.
Well, I guess it’s time to start digging into where I’m spending my money a bit more.
What other companies have questionable pasts? If you’ve got another example, share it with us in the comments!