Breakfast Briefing: 5 things for PR pros to know on Monday morning

Chinese businesses suspend ties with the Houston Rockets; Unilever to cut plastic use.

Several Chinese businesses are suspending ties with the Houston Rockets, after the NBA team’s general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. The Chinese Basketball Association and Tencent Sports have suspended business relations with the team. Sponsors such as Li-Ning Company and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank have also distanced themselves from the team. Joseph Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets and cofounder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, wrote in an open letter to "NBA fans" posted on his personal Facebook page that the damage from Morey’s tweet "will take a long time to repair."

What happened next? On Sunday, the NBA said in a statement, "We recognize that the views expressed by [Morey] have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable." Politicians are criticizing the NBA for "kowtowing" to China. Morey deleted his original tweet and tweeted an apology.

Unilever has committed to halving its use of new plastic by 2025. Instead, the CPG giant will offer more reusable and refillable packaging, and sell more unwrapped products. The company will also use more recycled plastic in its packaging. Unilever CEO Alan Jope told the BBC the company is making the move, in part, to appeal to millennials and Generation Z.

No such thing as bad publicity? Although Joker’s controversial depiction of violence spurred security cautions from the U.S. Army and various police departments throughout the nation ahead of its box office debut, the film shattered records in its opening weekend. Setting a new high for the month of October, the Warner Bros. film raked in $93.5 million domestically and $140.5 million overseas over the weekend for a global start of $234 million. The previous best was Venom.

As the United Auto Workers/General Motors strike heads into week four, talks have taken a "turn for the worse." That’s what Terry Dittes, the UAW vice president in charge of the GM department, said in a letter to members after GM made an offer to the union that basically repeated one the UAW had previously rejected. The strike began on September 16 with 48,000 UAW members seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of the General Motors’ profit and protection of healthcare benefits. (Reuters)

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