Remember that New York ad agency that sued a small time blogger when he picked up some mistakes in one of their campaigns for Boston? If you don’t, you can read my post on it at the time (April 06).
What did the blogger, Dutson, do? He criticized Maine’s tourism office, which hired New York agency Warren Kremer Paino, on his blog. What seems to have specifically upset the agency is that he caught them out:
“… he posted a ”rough draft” advertisement pulled from Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development website showing a collage of iconic images of the Maine seacoast, woodlands, and ski slopes, with a dummy phone number that turned out to connect to a line promoting a phone sex service. The agency had inadvertently placed the phone number on the draft advertisement for a presentation made to state tourism officials.”
I’ve often used this case as an example of “how to fuck things up royally” when it comes to dealing with bloggers. Back in April 06 when it all hit the fan, I wrote an email to WKP’s senior VP Bill Crandall saying:
I just read about your legal action against Dutson. Take some free advice – retract the charges, admit your mistakes, and get on with business. This is a no win situation for your agency. He doesn’t have the money and you will forever tarnish your reputation. Every time someone Googles your agency in the future they are are going read about your sex phone incident and how you sued a small-time blogger. This isn’t a winnable situation for you. Bail out now.
Well… a week later WKP surrendered their lawsuit against Dutson but I never heard from Bill Crandall.
Today I got an email from Crandall. TWO YEARS LATER.
In his email, Bill says he knew nothing about the case against Dutson until he got my email and was “aghast” to learn of it.
Bill goes on to say claim it was unfair to list his name on the site, “as unfair to me as the very subject you were covering”. But if you read my post, I never blamed it on Bill, I just put him down as a contact person. Hey Bill – if you’re going to put yourself up on the site as the contact person, what were you expecting it to be used for? Just new business inquiries? He says the agency’s owner/partners were the people who made the decision to sue, not him. Bill says he was let go in April 2008 and is now looking for work but my blog post, and others like it, are making it hard for him to find new work as Google searches on his name bring up the Dutson affair. Sorry Bill. Hey, employers – give Bill a chance to redeem himself. He says it wasn’t his fault and I believe him. Although, as I said to Bill in my reply email, if he wanted to set the truth straight, he should have done it TWO YEARS AGO.
I think Bill might want to take a leaf out of WKP’s book and change his name. It seems to have worked for them:
I looked WKP up and it appears they have treated themselves to a little re-branding. Warren Kremer Paino recently changed their name to “WKP-Spier”. Cute, huh?
Google “Warren Kremer Paino” and you find LOTS of references to the Dutson debacle. Google “WKP-Spier” however and you don’t find ANYTHING, at least not in the first five pages.
Now they are all shiny. They even have a blog, a flickr stream, and a youtube page. Huzzah! Hey Rocky, watch me pull this rabbit out of my hat!
But don’t be fooled – WKP-Spier contains two of the partners (Peter Warren and Bob Paino) who sued Dutson for pointing out their mistakes. Tsk tsk tsk.
So what can we learn from all this?
1. Don’t fuck your Googlerank.
2. If you DO fuck your Googlerank, re-brand.
3. If you DO fuck your Googlerank, and you do re-brand, don’t tell anyone. Or they might out you on their blog.