Tolerance for Bad Taste

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Posted At: November 13, 2013 1:45 p.m.
by Brian C. Hoff

As someone studying public relations and philosophy, I spend a fair share of my time thinking about how in the world the two overlap in practice and theory. Outside of logical reasoning, I can think of one sole exception: ethics.

Ethics, on its face, is the study and practice of right and wrong. In PR, we definitely lean more toward practicing ethics than studying it – but every once in a while, studying an ethical mistake can improve one’s practice.

On Sept. 28, a man died after ingesting some drugs at a club in Manchester, England, the night prior. Crisis management was crucial, and the club released this statement the day of the man’s death:

“As some may have read in the press today, unfortunately last night a man was taken ill at The Warehouse Project and died in hospital this morning. Everyone at The Warehouse Project are [sic] devastated about the news and our condolences are with his family.

The Warehouse Project are assisting the police with their ongoing enquiries surrounding the circumstances of the man’s death. They have suggested that there may have been a bad batch of ecstasy in circulation as others who attended last nights [sic] event are also unwell. While these people are whilst [sic] in no danger, some are still being treated.

The Warehouse Project operates a zero tolerance policy with regards to drugs.
However if you have taken something and start to feel unwell please tell a member of staff. 
There is a team of trained medics on site every night, and you will be treated on the premises initially.

Please don’t wait to get help. Tell someone as soon as you can
Alert a member of bar staff or security who can notify the medical team who are always there to help.

Likewise if you see someone who looks like they need help, please let a staff member know as soon as possible.

The Warehouse Project”

In my opinion, this statement is a great first response to the event. It’s timely and covers most of the club’s bases.
However, what Club-Mate, a beverage company, did in response to the man’s death is a giant red flag of “NO! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!”

Club-Mate posted this response on its Facebook page:

“This is why people should drink Club-Mate instead [of] taking drugs!”

What sort of utility does posting something like that have? How is that deontologically sound?

Forget the philosophical jibber-jabber and ethics of the matter! How does that statement seem like a smart idea in the first place?

Shortly after posting the status, Club-Mate simply deleted it. If anyone has read about a previous social media disaster like this one, you know that this tactic is probably the worst possible “solution.”

After scanning the Club-Mate’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, I still haven’t been able to find any evidence of an apology or response. It seems Club-Mate really believes in its slogan of “You’ll get used to it.”

The only thing I can credit Club-Mate with is really practicing what it preaches: Tolerance for bad taste.

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