PR blunders

Don't know how many people have been following the appalling invasion perpetrated on Tom Coates's blog.Tom blogged a ver...

October 4, 2005

Don’t know how many people have been following the appalling invasion perpetrated on Tom Coates’s blog.

Tom blogged a very personal and emotional entry (for a serenity fan) about his attempts to find his biological father and received many supportive comments, among which, the following:

“Hi Tom, Always remember one thing. Life is very, very short and nothing is worth limiting yourself from seeing the ones you love. I hadn’t seen my father in 15 years until 2 years ago. I was apprehensive but I kept telling myself that no matter how estranged we’d become there was no river to wide to cross. Drop me a line if I can be of any more help. Cheers, Barry”

Which would be fine, except that ‘Barry’ is a fictional creation with his own blog site, designed by JWT and Cohn & Wolfe to sell Cillit Bang through mildly amusing, double-entendre.
A legitimate, if rather conventional use of blogs as a marketing tool. Except when you try to drum up site traffic by trampling over someone’s deepest anxieties.

I come back to my point some days ago about a code of conduct. If marketers behave like this online, we’ll soon need a version of TPS (telephone preference service). Either that or all sites will be so artifically protected that dialogue will stop and the medium will die.

Surely we can act better than this towards one another. Just because you’re a marketer doesn’t mean you have act like an idiot. First Edelman, now Cohn & Wolfe.

Anyhow, Cohn & Wolfe, the PR agency has eventually apologised to Tom as follows:

We are writing to you in response to the Barry Scott posting on 30th September 2005. We’re all aware that Barry Scott, the advertising character is a marketing creation and we have been responsible for raising his awareness. The posting on 30th September was unplanned and an error of judgement and we unequivocally apologise for this. We recognise that it was inappropriate in context.

The Barry Scott character has appeared in a number of spoof websites and weblogs, created by people unconnected to the Reckitt Benckiser brand. The weblog posting on your site was not endorsed by Reckitt Benckiser or any of the advertising agencies that are mentioned and was a one off error from which lessons have been learnt. We are sorry for any offence it has unwittingly caused.

We would like to have an opportunity to apologise personally, if you would like to speak to us please do let us know the best way to reach you.

Yours sincerely,
The Cillit Bang team

Tom is happy that this apology is sincere and sufficient. If it were me, I’d want a name, not a veiled ‘team’ signature, and a public apology on their specious and not that funny blog

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