An interesting group of Dutch artists called "Mediamatic" said last week they wanted to create an art project whereby they would do a mockup of "Hema," _ the Dutch equivalent of Macy's _ in Arabic style.
So, in typical corporate fashion, especially Dutch corporate fashion, Hema first freaked out, then started threatening lawsuits, drew a lot of attention to the project, and then (predictably) backed down.
"It is unmistakable that Mediamatic is unjustly trying to hook into the concepts developed by the Hema. This can confuse the public, and is completely unacceptable"I have a dream, and it's that someday, press relations 'professionals' will be forced to attend a class where they will be drilled on such damage control concepts as:
- 'Threatening Lawsuits Will Draw Attention You May Not Want'
- 'When Issuing A Press Release, Include A Contact Person and Phone Number'
- 'Make Sure The Contact Person Is Available Shortly After Your Release is Issued'
- 'Make Sure Your Spokesperson Has Been Prepped on the Topic of the Day'
- 'A Press Relations Officer's Primary Function Is To Communicate With, Not Hinder, The Press'
- 'When a Crisis Strikes, Hiding And Being Unavailable Doesn't Improve The Situation'
- Lying Is Not A Good Option'
- 'Worst Out First'
Not that the above applies to Hema, but their reversal on this was highly predictable. The subtext of their initial panic was a desire to prevent their company being brought into connection with Islam in any way. Not out of prejudice, mind you, just out of mindless corporate fear of anything controversial.
After about three seconds of consideration, Hema might have realized that artists making an exhibit of what a store would look like after being Islamicized clearly falls under freedom of speech rules. If nothing else, it could be considered satire.
But in this case it seems like good old fashioned social criticism...
Another way Hema could have looked at the situation: FREE, HARMLESS PUBLICITY.
Another: Endorsing the project, and engaging in the public dialogue over integration and cultural exchange between different parts of the Dutch populace would not only be the right thing to do, but it might actually enhance the store's reputation.
Mediamatic has some more on the situation here. Their English is a little funky but they do great work...