Blooper over a beer bottle; when is a crisis not a crisis?

I recently read a story about a media crisis and a lesson learned.

Seems in June 2012 the Montreal Gazette ran a photo of accused murdered Luka Magnotta who happened to he holding a bottle of Labatt’s Blue. Before they thought it through, according to Labatts’ VP of corporate affairs, the company asked the newspaper to replace this photo with another. They thought they were protecting their brand he said.

Sounds like a good idea – until you think it through.

For one thing, asking the media to change the photo solely to protect their brand is censorship. Not done here in Canada.

It’s understandable that Labatt, as owner and shepherd of the brand would be twitchy about how their label is seen.

Labatt is vigilant about how its brand is seen. Photo by By Eddie~S on Wikimedia Commons.

In the hands of an accused murderer is not sought-after product placement. Labatt assumed this constituted a crisis. As often happens though, the rest of us weren’t nearly as vigilant or as worried.

The beer-consuming public apparently thought no less of the brand despite it being Magnotta’s choice. No crisis. Yet by stepping in with a letter to the paper full of lawyerly language, Labatt created one. Especially when the Globe and Mail also got their hands on the letter!

No question that some situations call for immediate corrective steps. This example reminds me of the number of times I see clients distressed and clambering for retractions or corrections when the inaccuracy, while egregious to them, is not going to matter overall.

An important reminder to step back, see the issue in context and get things in perspective.

Sometimes what looks like a crisis is not a crisis.

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