Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Don't Try This At Home

It's been one of those days where the sky falls around your ears without any warning clap of thunder or gathering of clouds to give you advanced notice of what's about to happen.

A senior level manager at a large electronics company that's a customer of ours found a case study on our web site that related to his group, and promptly went ballistic. Turns out, though, that we created this piece based on information contained within an academic white paper that they had agreed to allow to be published. However, we didn't get their permission to release that same basic information as the basis for a marketing piece about the customer concerned, and that's what caused this to go pear-shaped.

It's one thing to have theoretical right on your side - the paper is public, therefore the data is public after all - but the mistake we made was to then take that state of affairs and infer from it that we could reuse the information in anyway we wanted without the customer raising a red flag. Demerit points to marketing for taking a unilateral decision on this one, but it's also on my head to ensure that such things are done properly and done right. Mea culpa.

We'll get through it, but creating additional rods for our collective backs isn't what we need at this point in the year. Somehow, it's the self-inflicted wounds that sting the most!


I said...

Whoops. Quickest way to do this is issue "cease and decist". Agree to remove eletronically and destroy any paper copies. It happens.

Also, i find to defuse situation make a donation to the nominated corporate charity (or if there isn't one get the person who is upset to nominate one) and make a donation as a form of apology.

J said...

The good news is we have e-mails confirming that they approved the academic paper so I think we'll be OK.

Remember when Mclaren were pissed at us back in the early 90s for using a representation of one of their cars that, nevertheless, was a stock image legitimately purchased? Those were the days!