Sorry from Beta...

(62 Posts)
SorryBeta Fri 08-Jan-10 07:22:22

Robert and I would like to apologise to anyone we've offended with one of the posters we created for the OAA.

The reason we've waited until now to apologise is that the strength and nature of the reaction to the poster, specifically on mumsnet, shocked us. At first we were not sure what to do.

It had not been our intention to cause such offence, nor to attract such abuse.

Our intention was to provoke discussion. We believed that both the poster and the content of the Britainthinks website reflected this. We accept we got this wrong.

It has been suggested that we are about to commence legal proceedings against mumsnet. This is categorically not the case.

We have asked that they operate within their own editorial guidelines which they now are doing.

We are profoundly sorry. We hope our apology is accepted.

Garry and Robert.

nicnac73 Fri 08-Jan-10 07:35:35

Wow. Is this genuine?


I do have to say that for an organisation entirely prepared to insult a very large section of the population, about an issue fraught with difficulty and which they care enormously about, you do seem very thin-skinned when the boot is on the other foot.

Well done for pulling it though.

One remaining question - how could it possibly have shocked you? Do you employ any women?

llareggub Fri 08-Jan-10 07:43:07

Crikey. Startling post.

We do need a way of verifying these sorts of posts. Justine, are you around?

nicnac73 Fri 08-Jan-10 07:48:47

Feedback is a gift

The majority of the end consumers of the products you endeavour to advertise to are women with families. I hope that you have learnt something useful about what makes these consumers tick.

In David Ogilvy's famous book on advertising, he says "the consumer is not a moron, she is your wife". One might have hoped nearly 30 years later, it might have moved on a bit to "the consumer is not a moron, she is sat at the next desk" - or even "the consumer is not a moron, he is just like you".

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 08-Jan-10 08:09:08

I have a few questions.

1. Do you actually employ women?

2. Did any of them actually see this before it was approved?

3. Did you honestly not expect a backlash? Really? Seems naive.

4. Why on earth did you send a letter demanding Mumsnet remove the original post? The edited version that is now up is just daft.

5. Why ask for personal details of individual posters if you weren't going to pursue legal redress for your perceived slight?

6. Have you issued this apology elsewhere?

The internet is about open communication; positive and negative. If you want to use the internet to advertise, then you need to put up with both. Demanding retractions and editing web boards because you disagree with them is not open communication or encouraging debate. It is stifling free speech. Would you have published any negative comments on the web board you created? Didn't think so.

TheShriekingHarpy Fri 08-Jan-10 08:09:12

"The consumer is not a moron"? Of course not all consumers are "morons" but, a certain segment of the market is incredibly naive, hence the reason those ludicrous "anti-aging" products still have a slight foothold.

Well done Beta. Altogether a very courteous move. smile (I'll assume its genuine and not bogus)

TheShriekingHarpy Fri 08-Jan-10 08:17:20

"""The internet is about open communication; positive and negative. If you want to use the internet to advertise, then you need to put up with both. Demanding retractions and editing web boards because you disagree with them is not open communication or encouraging debate. It is stifling free speech."""

shock SGM the "Career women.." slogan was withdrawn at the behest of many MNetters. Using your logic above, it could be easily argued that you also are discouraging debate and "stifling" freedom of speech.

We live in a democratic constitution and as you say this means, that we accept the good, the bad and the ugly, to some extent.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 08-Jan-10 08:27:56

We campaigned about it because we disliked it. We used our power as citizens in a democracy to point out that we d it so intensely that we would boycott it as is our right. It was then up to the company how they chose to respond to our complaints. [Nestle doesn't seem to give a flying fuck about what we think about them]. They were completely free to leave the advertisements out knowing what our individual responses would be.

Demanding someone remove a post because it makes fun of your penis is silly. Demanding personal details of individuals is a violation of the Data protection act and smacks of intimidation.

My real point, though, is that they intended to use the internet as a way of promoting their product. This was the whole point of it. You can't then go whinging to Mummy if it doesn't go your way.

nicnac73 Fri 08-Jan-10 08:32:51

Before MN as an 'Adman' you needed special powers like Mel Gibson to know 'What women Want' and what they are really thinking about you. Now you have Mumsnet! Scary isn't it.

I can't believe in 2010 you thought you could get away with it. Nobody believes this women should be at home rubbish anymore. Your timing was impeccable as well. Just as the country grinds to a halt because schools close and parents (but invariably the women because we still on average earn less than our partners) can't get to work. They are telling us how many billions this is costing the country every night on the news. Nobody in their right mind would think we should all be at home when the loss of wealth this would mean for the country without our taxes paid and our disposable income to keep the economy going. Given the amount of debt we have as a country already this would be catastrophic and send us all back to the Stone Age.

If the Wilmas are all at home there would be no jobs for the Fred Flinstones either, especially not in advertising!

What a stupid statement to put out there!

wahwah Fri 08-Jan-10 08:33:15

If this is a genuine apology, then I accept it. Mistake made and days later apologised for. What's important to me is that every ad agency will be thinking more clearly now about the strength of women's voices and not wanting to get on the wrong side of that. Who knows, the men (and some of the women) might start really listening to the women in their lives.

I like to think that this matter has helped define the current standards around what is acceptable in a similar way to the reaction Jan Moir's piece on Stephen Gately, helped the media xthink more clearly about homophobia.

LadyBiscuit Fri 08-Jan-10 08:36:26

It's definitely genuine, it's posted on the Campaign website too. Good on you for having enough balls to apologise.

wahwah Fri 08-Jan-10 08:36:58

Oh, and please Beta, don't for a second think we just didn't get what you were doing. If you still think that, then you haven't got what this was all about and you won't learn from your mistakes.

edam Fri 08-Jan-10 08:37:09

Garry and Robert, the thing is, your advertisement was sexist and unsurprisingly hacked off millions of women. Did this really come as a shock to you? Had you not noticed that no-one has used the phrase 'career woman' since 1978? (Where have you guys been for heavens sake)

Having patronised all women, you are now patronising those "bad mothers" (your words) who run Mumsnet by suggesting they are not capable of enforcing their own editorial guidelines. You are clearly saying Justine, Carrie et al are not very good at their jobs and need telling what to do by some men.

Do you honestly believe this is a sensible way to apologise? Do you understand the first thing about your clients (some of them may even be women [shock}) and customers?

If you have the professional skills to understand reputation management, which I assume you should have, perhaps you could issue a re-worded apology that does not insult the founders of Mumsnet or indeed any other women.

edam Fri 08-Jan-10 08:42:45

Oh, and stop whingeing about 'abuse'. For heaven's sake, you wanted to encourage debate, you are supposedly grown men, can your delicate egos not cope with a bit of feedback?

Keep your fingers crossed none of the women you employ - nor any who are turned down at job interviews - sue you for sex discrimination.

TheShriekingHarpy Fri 08-Jan-10 08:50:34

"It was then up to the company how they chose to respond to our complaints"

SGM, a number of MNetters were threatening to boycott all the companies affiliated with the OAA and beta. MNetters were coercing through threat effectively. (sorry can't think of any other "nice" way of articulating this) Nestle views the MN party line in a nonchalant, casual way because its a much bigger concern and can afford to do so.

Would you feel comments about the size of your breasts were just "funny"? Or would you feel utterly humiliated? Just a thought. If you passionately disagree with something, as many did throughout this, complaining to the ASA et al is a laudable thing to do. Request that the slogan be removed, by all means, but resorting to contemptuous vitriolic remarks about someones sexual organs? Sorry but thats just low and it diminishes your (not you personally btw) credibility.

BecauseImGarry Fri 08-Jan-10 08:53:52

This is the MN philosophy (or 'editorial guidelines'):

"Welcome to Mumsnet. We've selected some topics below we think you might want to discuss but you're free to talk on any subject you like. You need to be a member of Mumsnet, and have a Talk nickname to use the board. Please be aware this is a public forum and your postings are open for all to see. Please note that Mumsnet has non-exclusive copyright in all submissions to Mumsnet Talk, and reserves the right to edit and re-publish these in print form. For more information click here.

Our policy is to keep intervention to a minimum and let the conversation flow. Having said that, we will remove postings that are obscene, contain personal attacks or break the law. Please do bear in mind how difficult this parenting business can be, and if there's one thing all of us could do with, it's some moral support.

You are free to change your nickname but please note that we don't allow nickname changes for inflammatory, malicious or misleading purposes."

I guess there were some personal attacks in the thread about the poster, but they were hardly serious or likely to damage Mr Lace's professional reputation. Unless he relies upon the size of his genitalia to do his job, of course?

And compared to the vicious political world that is advertising, and some of the stories/events that Mr Lace has been embroiled in (all well documented in the press), I remain amazed that he or his team could have construed any of it as 'such abuse'.

And (sorry, too many sentences beginning with 'and' - must stop writing like a copywriter) to deny that they have got solicitors involved is pathetic beyond belief.

IPlayBanjoOnMyFanjo Fri 08-Jan-10 09:01:50

Thanks for the apology chaps. Hope this whole affair has made YOU think, never mind Britain Thinking.

Can you also confirm that you will not be pursuing any legal proceedings against the posters you requested Mumsnet to supply the personal details of?

TheShriekingHarpy Fri 08-Jan-10 09:05:00

"I guess there were some personal attacks in the thread about the poster, but they were hardly serious or likely to damage Mr Lace's professional reputation"

shock Are you serious? Puerile references to genitalia size*, inflammatory four letter expletives, amidst cries of misogyny and you sincerely believe this isn't damaging?

* <muses on how its men who are accused of thinking with their nether regions>

TheShriekingHarpy Fri 08-Jan-10 09:07:26

Glad to hear there will be no legal action taken against MN though...

BecauseImGarry Fri 08-Jan-10 09:11:22

I do believe that they weren't damaging, TSH, otherwise I wouldn't have posted that. And what point are you trying to make about me with your footnote?

BecauseImGarry Fri 08-Jan-10 09:12:09

Plus in Justine's post last night, with the info re the lawyer, the reference in their letter was specifically to his genitalia and not to any of the other words.

TheShriekingHarpy Fri 08-Jan-10 09:18:43

BIG the footnote doesn't personally refer to you. It was a general, tongue in cheek reference to the spate of genitalia related remarks in this thread. Thats all.

MattSmithIsNotMyLoveSlave Fri 08-Jan-10 09:34:16

But Shrieking, surely the point re genitalia was that if (as was being argued by Beta at the time) saying "So and so is a bad mother" is fine and dandy and just intended to provoke lively debate so it would be crazy to object then saying "So and so has a small penis" must also be fine and dandy and just intended to provoke lively debate so it would be crazy to object?

I am still hazy on how being thought to have a small penis would damage someone's professional reputation, though (except in a select few rather specialist professions), and still less how it would damage the professional reputation of one's employers. I can see it might be a drawback socially, but AFAIK that wasn't what was alleged in the original solicitors' letter.

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