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So as much as I read different magazines each and every week, there are a few that I make sure I check out every edition and that is ‘The Week’.
The Week is basically a compendium of the recent weeks news and is quite simply, awesome.
Anyway, the last page of the magazine is always an article that has featured in another publication and recently, they printed this:
It’s basically the story of a journalist who had her gmail account held ransom by a hacker.
Within the article, she talks about how [sorry George] Google had been no help.
She say’s …
“My hacker had given me better feedback than Gmail and Google. The company that presents itself as the friendly face of the web doesn’t have a single human being to talk to in these circumstances. The UK office just cut me off and, after a friend waited 20 minutes to ask the head of the US team if there was anything that could be done to help, they received a simple “nope”. When someone did bother to look into my problem [which was because a friend of a friend worked at Google] it took 5 minutes to fix”.
Now that’s all well and good, however when I was looking through the rest of the magazine, I saw this:
Yep, it’s an ad – by Google – about how to come up with a strong password.
Not a fucking chance.
I’ve never seen Google advertise in this mag before.
I’ve hardly ever seen Google use print to advertise fullstop.
And it’s pretty bloody amazing that on the very week that a magazine prints a story questioning their  security and  customer service, they decide to run a full page ad talking about how to come up with a more secure password.
On one hand I think the advertising team at The Week should be congratulated for obviously seeing the opportunity to make Google cough up cash [and an ad] but the fact Google fell for it is similar to brands that pull their advertising just because a niche consumer group has taken offense and started making loud noises about it.
Don’t get me wrong, the fact that this poor woman couldn’t get any help from Google is pretty shit – but to do an ad saying “how to choose a better password” makes them look even worse because even a village idiot can see they are doing it out of fear.
But what’s worse – at least for me – is what they did.
By running an ad about passwords, it feels like Google are attempting to shift all the blame about this situation on to this poor woman’s shoulders … inferring that if she’d chosen a better password, none of this would have happened and that not only makes Google look corporate and ugly, it shows they have completely failed to grasp the point she was actually making.
I appreciate no brand wants negative PR against them, but sometimes it’s worth taking it on the chin, learning from it and changing your policies … because churning out a knee-jerk reaction ad basically turns the whole sorry situation into an ugly US vs THEM situation which basically increases the odds of escalating the problem and making more people question the faith that have put in your brand.
A crisis is one of the best ways for a brand to prove itself to their audience – existing and potential. What a shame so many end up using it to demonstrate their pettiness, weakness, coldness and fear.
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