FedEx defended its decision to ask Washington to abandon its Redskins moniker during a shareholders call Monday, swatting down a questioner who wondered why the company had “alienated wide swathes of customers who are sick to death of loud, performative wokeness.”
During the call, FedEx Chief Marketing Officer Brie Carere said the shipping giant evaluates all marketing sponsorships “through our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.” In July, FedEx had formally asked the then-Redskins to change their name in the wake of the national conversation around race relations that happened after George Floyd’s death.
“We appreciate very much the Washington Football Team’s decision to change its name and its logo, and please remember that it was the team’s decision,” Carere told the questioner.
Prior to the answer, FedEx CEO Fred Smith read the question that was submitted by Scott Shepard, Deputy Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP). In his question, Shepard cited the 2016 Washington Post poll that found that 9 in 10 American Indians aren’t offended by the name Redskins and asked if the company would drop the “radical racial posturing.”
Smith, who is a minority owner of Washington’s football team and is looking to sell his shares, laughed after reading the question — “if that’s what you can call it,” he said — and passed it over to Carere.
Carere said FedEx valued its sponsorship of FedEx Field and looked forward to the team’s rebranding process.
A few weeks after FedEx’s initial ask, Washington announced it was retiring the Redskins moniker. In late July, the team said it would go by “The Washington Football Team” as it searched for a new name and logo.
Last week, owner Dan Snyder told The Wall Street Journal that he was open to the possibility of keeping “The Washington Football Team” as the team’s permanent name. The team has invested heavily in rebranding its practice facility, stadium and other spaces like its website with the new temporary logo and name. Snyder said he would consider it if the name “catches on” for the fan base.
“I think we have developed a very classy retro look and feel,” Snyder told the newspaper.
Shepard told The Washington Times that he was disappointed with FedEx’s response on the shareholder call. As the FEP’s deputy director, Shepard said the project, part of a conservative think tank, works to keep American corporations in “a neutral area” regarding political matters. The National Center for Public Policy Research buys shares in corporations in an attempt to hold them accountable, he said.
He called Smith’s reply demeaning and sarcastic, adding Carere’s response sounded like she was reading off a prepared statement. He said he was surprised by Carere noting that it was the team’s decision to change their name.
“That’s just gibberish,” Shepard said. “They joined Pepsi in public statements demanding the name be changed, or there’d be terrible repercussions. That was an illustration of the talking out of both sides of their mouths game that so many corporations, especially in the last five or six months, have tried to engage in.
“They try to make it sound like they’re woke and social justice warriors for those crowds, but then they try to disclaim it when anybody brings the issue to them.”
FedEx did not reference any repercussions in its public statement in July, but according to the Washington Post, the company did send a letter to the team that said it would remove signage from the stadium unless the name was changed.