Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bed bugs and trademarks and brands

In the 1971 Kubrick movie "A Clockwork Orange," Catlady (played by Mirian Karlin ) refers to Alex DeLarge (played by Malcolm McDowell) as a slimy bed bug. Moments later Alex kills Catlady in a rather unpleasant way with a suggestively-shaped piece of artwork.

In the year 2010, a number of retail enterprises, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria's Secret, and various movie theaters, have been infested by bed bugs. The presence of bed bugs can tarnish a company's brand. Who wants to go to a movie theater known for bed bugs? Will the consumer associate that brand with bed bugs more than with a good experience?

Advertising Age notes the importance of a prompt response to bed bug problems:

Eric Edge, global chief communications officer for Euro RSCG, said when a company is faced with the reality of infestation, speedy honesty is the only successful policy. "In today's age of social media, if you try to cover anything up, or spin or sugarcoat the situation, the public is going to see through it," Mr. Edge said. His agency closed the office down on a Friday in July to allow exterminators to treat the whole building over the weekend, and alerted all employees and the public about exactly what was happening, despite the "big, bad bedbug stigma."

The Christie/Schundler matter in New Jersey shows what happens when people try to spin or sugarcoat a bad incident.
"Let's go to the videotape": Christie dumps Schundler

There are business opportunities. Advertising Age notes:

Douglas Stern, managing partner of New Jersey-based Stern Environmental Group, started a new arm of his extermination business six months ago in response to the growing number of infestations; he calls it "bed-bug-prep concierge service," aimed at helping large-scale clients prepare infested furniture, large objects and spaces for extermination. He says he's worked with a number of clients whose high-profile infestations have made the news lately, and even more that haven't. "There's much more than you think," Mr. Stern said. "Just because [companies] haven't been in the news, doesn't mean they don't have a problem."

Mr. Waldorf, too, says the recent rash of infestations have been good for business, and notes that his clients pay for both his services and discretion. "There's a stigma, but there shouldn't be," he said. "It happens everywhere. The stigma should come from companies that do not take proactive action to deal with a situation."

**Some other IPBiz posts-->

The "top 15" U.S. cities for bedbugs

Bedbugs invade Times Square while EPA sleeps

Bed bugs shut down NJ movie theater on 25 Aug 2010


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