Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Netpresenter pushes the bounds of taste, decency

Dave Haynes at sixteen:nine sent this my way, and I couldn't keep quiet about it.

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my character quirks is a strong desire to point out and tear apart bad press releases. Normally, the bad "news" takes the form of some showboating and grandstanding supplemented with a healthy dose of marketing speak and perhaps one or two quotes from the CEO or an industry "expert".

Unfortunately, this press release from Netpresenter isn't one of those. It looks like their Chief Ethics Officer and Director of Corporate Decency must have taken the day off, because less than a day after the worst school massacre in US history, they decided to issue a statement saying that a digital signage network could have helped the school stave off the tragedy.

All logical and practical arguments aside from a moment, what the hell was CEO Frank Hoen thinking? Do you really want to associate your company with such an event? When is it ever proper to capitalize on tragedy? There's a time and a place for everything. If you want to promote a campus or corporation-wide messaging system to provide instant notification of critical events, that's fine. But do everyone a favor and come up with a better way of marketing it than spreading FUD and taking advantage of a terrible situation.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for commenting on this. I could not believe it when I read their press release, and I'm so glad to see that I was not the only one getting angry about it.

Bill Gerba said...

Thanks for your input, the more voices the better in this case. As both the sixteen:nine weblog and Digital Signage Today have also run some negative comments on their PR, I take it we're not alone either.

Stephen said...

This mortifying press release lists some of Netpresenter's millions of users at some major brands, such as Nokia, Sony, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Ford, Miele, and Unilever.

One wonders how many brand managers at those companies are happy being listed as such considering the circumstances.

Michael said...

I am appalled that anyone would try to use this tragic event as a platform to push a product. I hope the individual responsible for this "oversight" is held accountable.

Anonymous said...

You can go to their web site, under 'about us' you can see the president's name with a link to send him a message. I have sent him a polite email suggesting he revisit his thinking on this release. It is possible he had the best of intentions, but it just stinks of profiting from others sorrow. I suggest anyone with similar feelings about this send him a note a suggest a change in strategy...

Andrew said...

Even better, here is the link (will take you away from this page)

Frank Hoen, CEO

Anonymous said...

Looks like they had a change of heart and took down the press release from their site... that's good to see.

Frank Duss said...

Bad timing?? Why not wait till some copy cats try this at your childs school and they could of had a solution!! The medical field does this all the time and peoples lives are saved by using their products!!! Billions are now spent on security after 9/11 - wish they advertised before-don't you?? I attended Va Tech

Bill Gerba said...

Nope, sorry, you're off base here. It is and always will be in poor taste to capitalize on misfortune, and that includes making unsubstantiated claims about how your product could have averted a recent tragedy.