Morgan Freeman and VISA have enjoyed a long relationship over years with the actor appearing in many of the credit card’s commercials as well as featured as a voiceover artist in its spots. After today, following allegations that surfaced from multiple women about sexual harassment and untoward behavior by the 80 year-old actor, VISA is stepping back.
In a just released statement from VISA, a spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the allegations that have been made against Mr. Freeman. At this point, Visa will be suspending our marketing in which the actor is featured.”
This comes after Vancouver-based transit system TransLink backed away as well. It had been featuring a Morgan Freeman voiceover for a VISA ad campaign to promote TransLink’s VISA credit card and mobile payments on its buses and at its automated rapid transit system SkyTrain.
The transit system issued a statement earlier today, stating: “In light of information we’ve learned through news stories this morning of serious allegations against actor Morgan Freeman, TransLink has decided to pause his voice announcements as part of a VISA ad campaign on the transit system,” the transit authority said this morning, in a statement.
The allegations, reported by CNN’s investigative team, also has also given pause to his union, SAG-AFTRA which award him with its highest honor in January with its Lifetime Achievement Award. They are now reviewing the situation but stated today: “Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment.”
The move by VISA is not without precedent in Corporate America. In the past, companies have stepped away from Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan after scandals hit; the same happened with Subway when its spokesman Jared Fogle was found with child porn.
So, it’s not unusual for companies to distance themselves when a spokesman is in the middle of a media firestorm of such a negative nature. Morgan Freeman, who apologized this AM “to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected” is just the latest.