Visa suspends Morgan Freeman campaign after accusations of inappropriate behavior
Chloe Melas, CNN
(CNN Money) — Visa is suspending its marketing campaign with Morgan Freeman following a CNN investigation that uncovered a pattern of alleged harassment and inappropriate behavior by the actor.
“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,” the company said late Thursday.
The company has featured Freeman in its commercials and also used his voice in its ads.
Vancouver public transit system TransLink announced on Thursday that it would “pause” its current ad campaign, which features Freeman’s voice promoting its Visa credit card and mobile payments on the transit system.
“In light of information we learned Thursday morning of allegations regarding actor Morgan Freeman, TransLink has decided to pause his voice announcements as part of a Visa ad campaign on our transit system. We will be reaching out to Visa to discuss further,” a spokesperson said.
In all, 16 people spoke to CNN about Freeman as part of an investigation, eight of whom said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman. Eight said they witnessed Freeman’s alleged conduct. These 16 people together described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company Revelations Entertainment.
The Screen Actors Guild also said it is in the process of determining what, if any, action will be necessary regarding Freeman, who received its lifetime achievement award in January.
“These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to insure (sic) a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry,” the union said in a statement via a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson. “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. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union’s most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time.”
Morgan Freeman’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his work with Visa and Vancouver’s TransLink, or his SAG award.
Freeman, 80, issued a statement after the allegations surfaced, saying he is “not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”