Doing a Ratner

One of my clients uses Constant Contact to issue email announcements to his clients. Unfortunately, he gave one of his employees the login details. The employee – thinking he was doing the right thing – sent all their clients a message announcing the launch of their new websites. Unfortunately, the new websites hadn’t been signed off yet, and were full of broken links and errors. The employee then sent all their clients a follow-up email linking to another website. Even more unfortunately, that website was wrongly branded. My client has now changed the login, so he is now the only one who can send messages.

‘Human error’ can happen to anyone.

According to Media Coach, Alan Stevens, the technical director of ETV news in South Africa used ‘dummy’ information to test the rolling news display on the bottom of the screen. The message that appeared on TV sets all over the country was “George Bush is dead”. Mr Bush is, in fact, alive and well. “We’ve learned from it, all test banners will now be done in gobbledegook,” said station spokesman Vasili Vass.

Gerald Ratner’s famous faux pas wiped an estimated £500m off the value of his company. From Wikipedia:

Although widely regarded as “tacky”, the shops and their wares were nevertheless extremely popular with the public, until Ratner made a speech at the Institute of Directors on April 23, 1991. During the speech, he joked: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?” I say, because it’s total crap.” He compounded this by going on to remark that some of the earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long.”

Top tip: Watch what you say and who you let say it. You can never be too careful.

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