A “sexist” record label, Internet anonymity, and the Wayback Machine
I’ve worked as a freelance writer since 1995. It’s a quiet life, very solitary and it’s quite easy to shape a view of the world that doesn’t exactly represent reality. To avoid this, I often go on what I call “writing adventures.” During these adventures I find (usually) a temporary job, enter the work force for a minimum of 90 days and experience life.
These adventures are times I treasure. I make friends, I get out of my office, and I experience life in all its gory, awful, joyful, exhilarating, boring, reality.
One of these “adventures” consisted of my working as an overnight announcer for a local radio station. It was a fun experience, I especially enjoyed hearing tales from DJs who worked parties over the weekend. I still laugh at their stories of drunken debauchery.
But what I especially enjoyed was their equipment. Tens of thousands of dollars glistened black and silver, huge black cords snaked between speakers and brightly lit sound boards filled with slides and dials. It was amazingly fun to observe as they hit buttons, spun CDs, all the while bobbing to the music. Timing was everything, pace was king.
I still enjoy perusing sound equipment. But, then I saw this:
My only response was, “Huh?” Is that a gas burner? I had a hunch it represented a jab at female DJs. But, why would a legit business do something like that? I know businesses do stupid PR gaffes every day. But this one caught my eye so I decided to deconstruct the message a bit.
As an advertiser, I’m generally very slow to alienate a large section of my intended audience. While female DJs may dwarf in number compared to male DJs, after working at a radio station, I couldn’t help but notice that the female staff definitely had a vote in sound equipment purchases. Offend them, and they’ll go somewhere else to purchase a similar product.
Secondly, while controversy may create buzz, it’s always good to ponder whether the tone of your buzz is beneficial to your brand.
Third, to insult the female gender as well as the men and women who work in the culinary arts… seriously? Who do you think purchases music? Regular folks with regular jobs buy a lot of music.
This is a classic example of myopic, untargeted, stupid advertising that probably didn’t advance the goals of Spinnin’ Records. The ensuing conversation was… less than optimal. It didn’t help that official response from Spinnin’ was this:
OK. Rather tepid given the anger generated by this snafu. When the conversation didn’t settle down, Eelki van Kooten, the co-founder of Spinnin’ Records had this to say:
I suppose this is a good story to ponder in the Tweeting and instant Facebook status update age. Think. Ponder before you post something you’ll later regret and always remember that what you post online will follow you for as long as the Wayback Machine is active, people still Storify, and other similar sites exist.
Weaving all this into the topic of skepticism, I can’t help but wonder if, in a few years, many of those who engage in Internet drama over trivial offenses will eventually regret the call out culture, inappropriate/unprofessional behavior, and name calling. As the Internet matures, prospective employers/clients will often Google an applicant’s name rather than conduct telephone reference calls.
I do this whenever a prospective author would like me to publish their book.
Internet anonymity isn’t guaranteed and with every not-thought-out tweet, every angry Facebook update, every inflammatory blog post… you can damage your most valuable brand: yourself. That’s what Spinnin’ Records just did.
That’s unfortunate. (I’ll dismount my high horse now.)