A few days later, the court handed down a $1 million fine to the group buying website Scoupon, for misleading consumers about their refund rights and the price of goods advertised. Also for telling businesses that there was no cost or risk involved and that 30% of vouchers would not be redeemed, which was not true.
Of course, dodgy advertising has been around since Eve told Adam how good the apple would taste. Yet for corporations, the risk to reputation can easily be under-rated.
Every experienced communicator knows you can try to win in the court of law and risk a terrible loss in the court of public opinion. Let's not forget when Pringles in the UK appealed to the highest court in the land to try and prove their famous potato chips are not actually a potato product, in order to save a substantial amount of sales tax. They eventually lost, but not before their own lawyers argued that Pringles "don't look like a chip, don't feel like a chip and don't taste like a chip." That must have really pleased their PR and Marketing people.
In these and so many other examples, the question is: Where were the issue and crisis professionals who should have been asking - “Excuse me boss, but does this really seem like a good idea?” Maybe the Australian cases are not quite so egregious, but they are a blunt reminder that reputation is far too important to be left to over-enthusiastic marketers and over-legalistic lawyers.