July 13, 2017

Walgreens a Party to A&E’s Religious Discrimination Campaign?

What is one of America’s best-known drug stores, “at the corner of Happy and Healthy,” doing supporting a controversial hate and propaganda program such as the A&E show Scientology the Aftermath? There must be less controversial and offensive productions that Walgreens can sponsor.

July 13, 2017

Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer
The Walgreens Company

Dear Mr. Holyk:

What is one of America’s best-known drug stores, “at the corner of Happy and Healthy,” doing supporting a controversial hate and propaganda program such as the A&E show Scientology and the Aftermath? There must be less controversial and offensive productions that Walgreens can sponsor.

Surely there should be some discretion that can be applied by you and the Walgreens board of directors. As a shareholder in Walgreens, I am appalled at the lack of corporate governance and responsibility. Did you or Walgreens: 1) review the content; 2) fact-check the data; 3) recognize that Remini and others are being paid to attack Scientology; 4) estimate the number of devoted Scientologists who may be shareholders or customers of Walgreens who are offended by the hate speech against their religion?

For that matter, Mr. Holyk, you might have taken time to think to yourself, “What if half a million offended Scientologist customers now decide to take their business to CVS? How will that affect our business? Should I consider that I might actually be offending many shareholders, customers or even employees by supporting this show?

Perhaps Walgreens should copy a page from the playbook of British Telecom giant Vodafone whose CEO Vittorio Colao said his company would not be associated with any material that is hate- based or discriminatory in nature, or with no credible primary source, relying on fraudulent attribution.

As a shareholder I would not want to see Walgreens become the next Denny’s, associated with anti-religious, racist, discriminatory or hate-related messages. As Chief Marketing Officer you well know that in today’s economic environment, public persona and PR are crucial. Being connected to anything hateful or discriminatory is a vulgar disservice to the public the company serves, not to mention bad for business, bad for shareholders, bad for everyone.

What about the Scientologists, the faithful ones, the guys in those yellow jackets rushing to aid thousands in every major disaster—the Northridge earthquake, World Trade Center, Asian Tsunamis, San Bruno gasline explosion, Nepal earthquakes and everything in between. This same group hands out millions of The Way to Happiness booklets to stem the tide of degradation in society, and educates millions of kids about the dangers of drugs—the programs all funded by Scientologists whose actions may one day help save the life of one of your kids or grandkids. They do a hell of a lot of good, and supporting a smear campaign is a bad move for Walgreens.

I strongly recommend that you and the Walgreens board of directors look at some of these advertising commitments and recognize them for what they are—flawed and dangerous marketing strategies. Today it’s the Scientologists. In pre-war Germany it was the Jews. Who is next? Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons? Honestly, Walgreens would never fund an anti-Semitic show or an anti-Muslim show. So why Scientology?

Remember that old 1970s TV commercial, the “Keep America Beautiful” ad with the Native American shedding a tear while seeing the pollution poisoning his once beautiful homeland? A very touching ad. Seeing the current lack of Walgreens corporate sensitivity makes me feel as though I’m walking in those crying Indian’s moccasins. And there is nothing “Happy and Healthy” about that.

Respectfully,
Stuart H. Rosenbaum
San Jose, Calif. 

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