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Brief summary, Mumsnet vs ‘career women make bad mothers’ ads (as at end Thurs 7th Jan)

(52 Posts)
mrsbaldwin Thu 07-Jan-10 23:59:08

On Monday 4th January the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA), a trade body representing firms who sell outdoor ad space, launched a campaign to promote the power of outdoor advertising.

The OAA wanted to prove that outdoors advertising can attract consumers to specific online locations. They thought that if they could demonstrate the link between seeing a billboard and making a purchase online they might sell more outdoors ad space.

The OAA hired a London-based ad agency Campbell Lace Beta (Beta), fronted by a well-known adman Garry Lace, to help them run their campaign.

Beta suggested a campaign that would ‘get people talking’. They devised a series of ‘provocative’ statements to be pasted in large print on billboard sites. In smaller print consumers were encouraged to log on to to a website ‘BritainThinks’, set up by Beta for the purpose of counting numbers of people who see an ad and follow it up online. The OAA agreed this campaign strategy.

Just prior to the ads going up Beta briefed the press (the adland trade press and media correspondents of the national press) about its campaign intentions.

In the event one of the ‘provocative’ statements – ‘career women make bad mothers’ - proved particularly provocative to many Mumsnetters, who expressed their annoyance and campaigned to have the posters removed.

As well as discussing the ads on Mumsnet they:
*emailed and called the OAA to express their disappointment
*emailed complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority
*emailed Directors of Communications (responsible for signing off outdoor ad spend) and chief executives at UK firms who spend a lot of money advertising outdoors
*emailed other clients of Beta

On Wednesday 6th January (16.15) the OAA issued an ‘unreserved apology’ on Mumsnet, saying they would remove the ‘career woman …’ ads as soon as possible from their sites. Click here to see the full text:

Some Mumsnetters subsequently contacted the OAA to commend their decision.

Beta spoke to Media Guardian at around the same time, citing a ‘misunderstanding with an important mother’s forum’:

Later on Wednesday Mumsnet received communications from Beta’s Garry Lace and his lawyers. Lace’s communication said:
"I will now engage in a process to ensure … that we are compensated for the hurt, corporate loss and reputational damage that we have suffered as a result of your inability to moderate your medium properly."

Mumsnet has reminded contributors to follow the rules of the forum when making posts on this topic.

Beta’s lawyers have also asked for personal contact details for a number of contributors to the site – LadyBlaBlah, Harriedandflustered, MrsBaldwin, Overmydeadbody, Southeastastra. HerBeatitude, FunnyLittleFrog, Dittany, FlightAttendant, MrsChemist, Paulaplumpbottom, SydneyScarborough, Imisssleeping, Whomovedmychocolate, Thumper76. Data protection laws have prevented Mumsnet from supplying these.

The debate has sparked a good deal of interest online both in the UK (although mostly not, it appears, on the BritainThinks website) and overseas.

llareggub Fri 08-Jan-10 00:03:32

Good summary, and well done Mrs B for all that you have done.

BitOfFun Fri 08-Jan-10 01:31:44

Oh what a load of arse. Makes me glad I have signed up to the reforming libel laws campaign.

Garry Lace, for example...

Do feel free to send him my details, Justine, for implied insult to his reputation hmm

FluffyForLifeNotJustForXmas Fri 08-Jan-10 01:41:36

The key in libel laws is that if you strongly believe the thing you are saying to be true, it's not libel (unless they have changed the laws since I did my law degree).

Longtalljosie Fri 08-Jan-10 07:45:04

Err, well - yes, but the justification defence only goes if you can prove something to be true.

The fair comment defence is only a partial defence.

Strix Fri 08-Jan-10 12:12:02

Oh no. They are suing MN?!?! How did I miss this. Is it because we implied he had a little squeaky package? (okay, maybe it is not squeaky)

BoysAreLikeDogs Fri 08-Jan-10 12:14:50


<straps posters to

no, I'll stop there

BecauseImGarry Fri 08-Jan-10 12:16:37


Strix Fri 08-Jan-10 12:44:36

Can someone point me to that libel campaign thread which I can't seem to find.

BoysAreLikeDogs Fri 08-Jan-10 12:44:49


BoysAreLikeDogs Fri 08-Jan-10 12:45:18

oh sorry strix not larfing at you mate

Strix Fri 08-Jan-10 12:53:27

It's okay. I wouldn't want to keep you from grinning. Carry on.

jackstarbright Fri 08-Jan-10 12:58:21

Thanks for the summary MrsB!!

Here are (some of) the blogs all in one place for an easy catch up for all!








G osh - I haven't finished yet - but need a break.....

jackstarbright Fri 08-Jan-10 13:05:01

Some more....





The campaign might well prove the power of the medium to sell eggs, as people shell double-deckers to express their disapproval.


jackstarbright Fri 08-Jan-10 13:10:01

And not forgetting the excellent: Amelia

missorinoco Fri 08-Jan-10 13:11:00

Can't Mumsnet HQ countersue the for the slogan on the basis that they presumably "career women"?

missorinoco Fri 08-Jan-10 13:11:20

Can't Mumsnet HQ countersue the for the slogan on the basis that they are "career women"?

missorinoco Fri 08-Jan-10 13:11:53

sorry for double post blush

DuelingFanjo Fri 08-Jan-10 13:13:42

So - that's a bit off isn't it? Asking for Poster's contact details.

How scary.

SydneyScarborough Fri 08-Jan-10 13:14:59

Message withdrawn

mrsbaldwin Fri 08-Jan-10 13:15:37

Thanks Jackstarbright - gosh, someone on the MediaWeek comments thread seems to be comparing Garry Lace to Socrates grin Although AngryCareerWoman has put her straight in the next post.

I'm very glad the efficacy or otherwise of this campaign is being debated in adland.

I wonder, a la Carrie Bradshaw: can it still be claimed, in this digital age, that all publicity is good publicity?

cleanandclothed Fri 08-Jan-10 13:27:41

What bad losers! Their idea to run the campaign, their choice to pull it. Just because they couldn't control the 'talking' that people did.

WilfSell Fri 08-Jan-10 13:30:01

Don't forget the f-word blog

youwillnotwin Fri 08-Jan-10 13:41:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jackstarbright Fri 08-Jan-10 13:41:26

Mrsbaldwin - I wondered if Angrycareerwoman is an MNeterwink??

I would imagine being judged by your peers is even tougher than be being judged by Mumsneters. And as to being judged by your customer's....

Gary Glitter or (at the moment) Tiger Woods would not agree about bad publicity having any merit. Though, as for the long run, we have the examples of Michael Jackson and Jade Goody to consider!!

Seriously, now he's apologised Mr L could turn it around. Write a book perhaps? Public speaking? Actually, you should consider those options Mrsb, having spearheaded such a successful camplaign.

Maybe you and Garry could do a double act?

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