London 2012 and that Hindley image

SimonGeneral3 Comments

Amind the positive buzz around yesterday’s handover of the Olympic host city status to London, there was inevitably going to be a sour note somewhere.

From the rolling news coverage last night and this morning, it looks like the use of a shot of a portrait of Moors murderer Myra Hindley within a promotional video shown at London 2012 event in Beijing last night is that sour note.

BBC News is showing footage of the video being played at the party. The shot appears for a fraction of a second as part of a sequence of images of London and appeared because the portrait was being displayed in a gallery, presumably being used to represent London’s cultural scene in the video.

There’s already been denouncement of the use of the image by everyone you’d expect, including London mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Gordon Brown (although the latter not yet on his snazzy new website).

To me this is just a slip-up, pure and simple. And not a massive one at that. It won’t do any lasting damage to London 2012‘s reputation.

This does highlight the ever increasing intensity of scrutiny that London 2012 will be under. If a half second glimpse of an inappropriate image can be picked up in this way, imagine the impact of a more fundamental difficulty. This just demonstrates the importance of a planned approach to issues management, helping organisations take a wider view to their interactions with the world around them than individuals within the organisation would necessarily take.

Taking a different example, if I’d been responsible for commissioning this leaflet, I’d have been pretty disappointed with myself for not spotting the incorrect skyline image. However I’d be even more ashamed of not admitting the mistake right away rather than trying to argue against a pretty obvious problem.

At an individual level as marketing or public relations professionals commmisioning any sort of promotional material, we have to take responsibility for the content that we commission. While we sub-contract degrees of responsibility to designers, producers, cameramen and the link, we must still retain overall responsibility, and that includes maintaining a mental filter for potential slip-ups like this.

To be able to apply this mental filter effectively we must have a considered and informed understanding of the environment that we operate in, its cultural and political sensitivities, as well as good dose of common sense to boot.

3 Comments on “London 2012 and that Hindley image”

  1. Sherrilynne Starkie

    Artists’ best work is often a reflection of a society. Briton’s don’t like this particular reflection, but that’s the point. It’s not inappropriate; it’s art. Your point about scrutiny is correct. But I do hope that 2012 will reflect true British culture, not just a collection of carefully stage-managed, commercial aspects.

  2. Simon

    Thanks for the comment Sherrilynne.

    I think the image probably is inappropriate in the context of its purpose in the video (unless the aim was to be deliberately provocative, which I doubt) – a different image could have been used in that context to show the same point. As you say, it’s not inappropriate in its context as a piece of art.

    That said, creative arts and managing reputation aren’t always comfortable bedfellows…

  3. Pingback: Hindley row out of proportion | Strive Notes

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