This series of blogs has focused closely on the issue of falling retail signs, which has very much been in the news.
Some ‘Big Brands’ have been the subject of unhelpful media coverage in recent years, and that may have taken the ‘Brand Managers’ – the people responsible for the brand image – rather by surprise.
When a retail sign falls and kills someone, the brand in a corporate sense may well have to take a share of the responsibility; the Brand Manager will usually have approved the sign image, but won’t have direct responsibility for its installation and maintenance. But someone in the company will.
Yet it’s the Brand Managers who will probably have to handle the negative fall-out of the deaths and injuries, the investigations, the inquests, the court hearings, and the sustained bad press that may follow.
Now, all the people I know in the marketing world are decent, compassionate, human beings who would share the horror of the rest of us at a death or serious injury.
That’s their human response. But they also have a professional response.
They will have spent millions, over many years, building-up a brand image, and the death of innocent passers-by probably didn’t figure in their thinking; nor did the negative reporting of their company as it faced civil or criminal court proceedings.
Which is why, following the ‘falling sign’ cases of the last few years, some of them are now taking a greater interest in the construction and infrastructure issues in which their company is involved.
I guess no one deliberately installs a structurally weak sign (although, incredibly, recent evidence and social media comment suggests that some people are careless as to whether they do so or not). And blame is for the courts to allocate.
I am highly critical of any client-side company which engages in a reverse-auction (the subject of a previous blog) and have little sympathy with any such company when it all goes horribly wrong, but with that exception I believe clients are as keen to get these things right as anyone.
Most clients allocate serious resources to sign procurement, and that includes technically qualified and capable people, experts in infrastructure contracts, and high calibre managers who know how to negotiate to achieve value and who generally get these things right.
They are obligated to appoint qualified people to do the work, and if they inadvertently appoint someone who is not sufficiently qualified, the consequences could be severe.
I’ll pick up this same theme in the next blog.