On the one hand we have Amazon accounting for one in every four pounds spent on entertainment over Christmas, which is probably the most predictable ecommerce headline you're likely to read this month. On the other we have the controversial return of Luis Suarez to the front line of Adidas' latest campaign. What do these two have in common? Well, if what we're told by brand experts were true, both would be avoided for representing very questionable ethics. The truth is, they aren't, because people evidently don't appear to care as much as they're supposed to.
Getting into a tax debate is a little tricky for anyone for who's not an attorney, but let's agree that Amazon -- while not technically breaking any laws -- is legally avoiding taxes, which someone like WHSmith would be paying in exactly the same way as Costa pays while Starbucks avoids. There was uproar when Amazon, like Starbucks, was named and shamed for its avoidance of tax and predictions that proud citizens would choose competitors. Yet still today, Starbucks dominates the high street and Amazon accounts for one in four festive entertainment purchases -- way out in the lead.
Then there's Suarez. Adidas went rather quiet on the "nippy" former Liverpool striker after he was banned by Fifa during the World Cup for biting an opponent. Previously his most famous episode of World Cup cheating was a blatant hand ball, which denied Ghana progressing to the Semi Finals in 2010. His only comment at the time was not an apology but a claim that it was "instinctive," as must have been the very unsporting celebration when the resulting penalty was missed. Oh, come to think of it, there was a lot of moaning by the Uruguay team that the serial cheat had been harshly treated by the red card that stopped him from playing in the semifinal.
Back in the land of reality -- i.e., outside of Uruguay and Suarez's self-pitying mind -- everyone hated Suarez right up to the point where he started scoring goals and causing changing-room turmoil at Liverpool. But it didn't matter -- he was scoring goals. This all came, of course, after he'd already bitten an opponent during a domestic league match in the Netherlands, an offence he later repeated in the Premier League by biting a Chelsea defender which came just before, the most famous of all, "that" bite on Chiellini's shoulder in the 2014 World Cup.
Oh, and there's a bunch of dissent and red cards -- but undoubtedly the worst offence given UEFA's "no to racism" and "right to play" campaigns, was when he racially abused Patrice Evra in a game against Manchester United.
There was a lot of talk about him being dropped by Adidas, which went very quiet about their star in the latter stage of the last World Cup. Presumably there would have been a break clause in his contract allowing the brand to show some dignity?
Instead, here the brand is using the troubled striker to front its latest campaign with the #cheat hashtag appearing as he smiles for the camera and then later a vulgar middle finger is raised when he reappears with the #kissthis hashtag in a clip titled "There Will Be Haters." There's even a photograph to go with the campaign of him covering his mouth.
Well, the title of the film is apt because there will be many, and as a grassroots football coach trying to instill values as well as skills, I have no greater hate figure in the game right now than Suarez.
Adidas clearly only has one rule -- do what you want, as long as you sell boots.
The thing is, just as well all flock to Amazon for its low prices and one-click purchasing and recommendations, we're all guilty of not following through. Nobody out there seriously believes Amazon is a good corporate citizen for the way its tax planning is handled, no matter how legal it may be. There's also nobody out there who doesn't believe Suarez is a repeat cheat who has been banned for a series of racist and violent attacks on other players.
Yet we shop at Amazon, and those Adidas boots he's holding are bound to fly off she shelves.
Shame on them. Shame on us.