Christmas card stereotyping
Having been on holiday for the past week with limited access to Internet, my exposure to news has been somewhat patchy, which means that I missed a sparkling gem of PR newsworthiness. Fortunately, I discovered it this morning.
Step forward, Clinton Cards.
The retailer has had a massive PR blunder in the shape of a Christmas Card entitled ’10 Reasons why Santa Claus must live on a council estate.’ The picture on the card showed an image of Father Christmas superimposed on what looks like a council tower block in the mould of Nelson Mandela House, of Only Fools and Horses fame.
Number one of the list of reasons was that ‘He has a serial record for breaking and entering.’ Some others included, ‘He’s never actually been seen doing any work in his whole life’, ‘He drinks alcohol during working hours’ and ‘He wears the same out-of-fashion clothes every day and never ever washes them’.
I haven’t made any of them up and the rest of the ten are of a similar nature.
I was genuinely open-mouthed when I read it, incredulous at the content.
Just how in the hell did this get through quality control procedures? I honestly cannot believe that there wasn’t one person, in a business the size of Clinton Cards, that didn’t say ‘I think this might be a bad idea’. It must have passed through several levels without one person thinking to question it, which is some reflection of the communication channels available to employees.
Needless to say the card seller has said that the product has now been ‘immediately removed’ from sale after its potentially offensive nature was pointed out.
But as ever with social media, the card was already doing the rounds, with allegations of poor bashing and prejudice. In addition to social media, the majority of news outlets have also reported on the story.
However it wasn’t all condemnation. Many social commentators felt that it was simply a joke and people needed to ‘stop being offended’. There are occasions when I agree with this sentiment. In some instances it seems that many people look for perceived insult in the most innocuous of circumstances, feigning outrage in order to have a good old time of it riding on their righteous high horse. But in this case its blatant negative stereotyping, and coming from a company of Clinton’s stature, this product should never have hit the shelves.
There are jokes circulating the Internet that we might guiltily chuckle at (before thinking better of it), but you certainly wouldn’t stick them on the front of a Christmas card. This seems like an internet style joke that’s somehow found a different and entirely inappropriate medium.
I’m sure whatever sense filters Clinton Cards has in place will be a bit more robust next time.