There’s political correctness and then there’s good old-fashioned insolence.
A great example of the latter unfolded last week as a group trying to market a huge, multi-county beer tour backpedaled faster than an All-Pro cornerback after it posted a meme on Facebook that would probably offend 95 percent of the people who can read.
The “Passport Brew Tour” was shaping up as a big deal, involving 20 craft-beer brewers in seven counties, an area ranging from Ashland south to Coshocton and from Stark west to Richland. The drinking public could win a T-shirt by visiting all of them by the end of the year. Organizers said they expected 10,000 participants.
But all that was before an absolutely asinine Facebook post.
Headlined “Why Beer is Better Than a Woman,” the meme included a drawing of a beer can whose label was the outline of a woman posing suggestively with a diagonal red slash though her.
Twelve reasons were listed explaining why beer is “better” than 50.6 percent of the population of the United States. The content ranged from chauvinistic to misogynistic to downright juvenile.
Why anyone would post something like that in an attempt to attract male and female adults to a mainstream, four-month event defies comprehension.
Several of the “reasons” are unsuitable for repeating here, and I’m not sure the rest are worth the space. But if you’d like a small taste of the author’s total dearth of class:
• You don’t have to wine and dine beer.
• Beer never gets a headache.
• Frigid beer is good beer.
So, was this the product of a couple of 15-year-old boys trying to write comedy in somebody’s basement?
Maybe. We’re not sure where it came from. We do know that it was posted on a Facebook page controlled by Lunar Cow, a New Franklin technology and marketing company that works with tourism agencies.
Or perhaps we should say it “formerly” worked with tourism agencies. The four groups that were onboard for this project jumped ship almost as fast as the brewers.
To toss gasoline onto the already raging fire, Lunar Cow apologized on Facebook three times — and each new apology sounded less sincere than the last.
The third time was considerably less than a charm:
“The Passport Brew Tour sincerely apologizes to all participants, sponsors and brew tour members for a recent post that was made on our behalf from an independent advertising company….
“We had utilized an outside company due to our limited resources to assist in obtaining content, building awareness and brew tour participation. The guidelines that were set for the outside company were not followed, which resulted in inappropriate content being posted ….”
So let’s see … a company that specializes in marketing isn’t able to come up with a couple of Facebook posts and instead pays an outside firm to do it? An outside firm that is dumb enough to post something like this?
We’d tell you which outside company was allegedly responsible, but Lunar Cow hasn’t responded to the Beacon Journal’s request for comment.
Kent State lesson
Perhaps the only area resident smiling about all this is Eric Mansfield, who in addition to serving as the chief spokesperson for Kent State University teaches a class on media relations and publicity. As teaching moments go, this was manna.
“It’s 2018,” Mansfield notes. “There’s no reason they shouldn’t have known that was going to backfire.
“Nineteen of my 20 students are women, and they were completely offended, so much so that some say they would never work for that client, let alone patronize their event.”
Lunar Cow’s response to the furor was another textbook example of screwing up.
“The longer you wait to do the right thing, the less sincere it feels,” Mansfield says. “So if you wait until people are outside with pitchforks and torches, you waited too long.”
The former television reporter opens each of his classes with examples of good and bad PR in current events. Although most examples aren’t this obvious, his undergrads are getting a pretty good idea of what not to do.
“My students equated this to the Ohio State incident [the football coach accused of spousal abuse], where [OSU] really should have known better and done the right thing sooner.”
In public relations, Mansfield says, “you try to prevent these things from happening. But if they do happen, you need to be authentic and own it and apologize in a genuine way — right away.”
When I suggest to Mansfield that the “outside agency” sounds like a figment of someone’s imagination, he replies, “Well, you would think if you were hiring an expert, an expert would absolutely know this is not the way to go about promoting this event.
“I don’t have all the facts, but … no reputable agency would have recommended this course of action.
“It was just so obvious this would blow up in their face.”
Even Lunar Cow’s Facebook post announcing the tour’s demise was off-target. It read: “The Passport Brew Tour has ended for the 2018 calendar year. Follow us on social media for the next tour.”
The next tour? Promoted by you guys?
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31