It probably doesn’t rate as highly on the PR failure scale as an Italian cruise ship captain claiming he’d fallen into a departing lifeboat, but it’s a clear case of not looking before you leap.
The BBC reports that an advertising agency for car maker BMW last week took up the naming rights for a weather system on their client’s behalf.
The idea was that everybody talks about the weather so they’d mention a cold front called “Cooper”- and give the BMW-manufactured car model some profile.
Berlin’s Free University uses the “Adopt a Vortex” sponsorships to fund its meteorological service.
Their outlook probably didn’t foresee the severity of Cooper contributing to more than 100 local deaths.
BMW was forced into a defensive apology and is probably still counting the negative PR cost of their $250 outlay.
That damage won’t be lasting but you have to ask why an ad agency would recommend a sponsorship where the outcome was uncertain and any brand association upside negligible.
A bit of risk analysis never goes astray. Closer to home, if you plan on placing ads on an edgy FM radio breakfast show or sponsoring an accident-prone NRL or AFL team you might want to call us.