Thursday, April 29, 2010

Headline Fail

When I read this article in the dead-tree version of the Wisconsin State Journal today, the headline was something like "Fireworks off thanks to host's opinion" (I read the paper at work, so I don't have it handy to check now).  That infuriated me, because if you read the article, it seems that a far more appropriate headline would have been "Fireworks off thanks to sponsor's thin skin."

I'm not thrilled that Woodman's dropped their mental health coverage. However, that was a business decision motivated by a fear of rising costs due to the State's new mental health parity mandate, and it is a matter that is between Woodman's and their employees. Many employers never provided mental health coverage in the first place.

Now, however, the Woodman family is trying to dictate public discourse about their company by greenmailing Mid-West Family Broadcasting.

"I'm not going to work with a company that is going to slander our business," [company vice president Clint] Woodman said. "The whole point is that they allowed Sly to talk badly about someone they do business with."

It is ironic that Woodman's has turned what was a nice PR move by the company -- their traditional sponsorship of the Elver Park fireworks -- into a potential public black eye.  I am so angry by their blatant attempt to stifle free speech that I'm ready to boycott Woodman's.


Deekaman said...

Only the government can "stifle free speech" because they are the only ones prohibited from doing so. All Woodman's is doing is "voting with their feet".

The mental health coverage issue goes under the heading, "Unintended Consequences".

Dan said...

If I was a sponsor of Sly (man, how old is he, 145?)and he critizes my company, you darn right I would pull advertising and any affiliation with Sly's employer. If that means no fireworks, maybe Sly can pick up the extra slack and sponsor them himself. Words have consequences.

Ordinary Jill said...

But they didn't pull sponsorship from Mid-West Family Broadcasting. They pulled sponsorship from the Elver Parks fireworks, of which Mid-West Family Broadcasting was also a (lesser) sponsor. They're pressuring the city to force Mid-West out in order to raise enough funds for the fireworks. They're not just hurting Mid-West. A lot of uninvolved third parties are being dragged into Woodman's fit of pique. So, it seems that they will pay for the fireworks, as long as no one publicly criticizes them in any way without being punished for it.