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Smashing’s Lawsuit

March 18, 2014

All press is good press right?  Not when it’s a picture of you making a political statement that you didn’t make.

Smashing Golf  & Tennis has been getting lots of press over the past couple of weeks, so when my alert goes off that Smashing or myself was quoted in another article, I figured that other publications were picking up another version of the same story.  I put it in my “to read later” folder and plan to read it later after the craziness of the day winds down.

So imagine my surprise, when not only was Smashing part of a story about minimum wage, but my picture was in it with the headline, “Minimum Wage is not Livable” directly above.  It was a picture that an AP photographer had taken of me back in the summer for a different story about growing small businesses.  I click on the link to find out what publication this was in and found it was only published in about 800+ newspapers and on-line reaching over 60 million Americans weekly.  Oh great, glad it wasn’t a big story (dripping sarcasm).

Now the article wasn’t saying anything bad about Smashing, but it was insinuating that we were in favor of hiking the minimum wage.  When it comes to political issues, I tend to keep my views to myself and am not one to get out the poster board and go on a march (the only march I like is March Madness).  As a matter of fact, Jayne and I are on two opposite sides of the political spectrum, so as a company we are Switzerland.

I shoot off an email to our crack legal department and Jayne (with my own “WTH?” caption) and get on the phone with the paper.  Since it is after hours, I talk to whomever is still at the paper and they promise the editor will get right back to me.  And by “right back to me” they basically mean never.

It seems Jayne was in a feisty mood and prior to talking to legal just sent off her own perfectly crafted email to the editor, CEO, and reporter.  Which inspired the response, “The picture is property of AP and so we are allowed to use it.”

Hmm, that’s a sticking point.  While I don’t own the picture, is it ethical to use it in a way that insinuates I said something that I didn’t.   Could they have a headline above the picture that says, “Ban Clothes.  Let’s Be Nudists.” Or even worse, “Duke basketball is number 1.”  Both headlines could seriously hurt our business (especially #2).

Jayne, threatening legal action and a campaign to get readers to cancel subscriptions, gets the paper to agree to remove the picture and print a retraction saying This story has been changed from its original version to remove a file photo of a worker at Smashing Golf & Tennis, which has taken no position on the minimum wage. 

“A worker?” I write to Jayne, “Couldn’t you get them to say something like, “Owner?” “CMO?” or “Big Syracuse Fan?”

I can practically hear the eye roll through the email as she reminds me we got the retraction and that was the aim.

Yes we got the paper to realize their ethical misstep.  I just can’t wait to see what papers we are in next week.

Have a Smashing day!

p.s. For those of you that don’t want to ban clothes and become nudists, be sure to check out our Spring Collection and take 20% off with code SAVE20.


One Comment leave one →
  1. March 19, 2014 9:05 am

    I love being the Bad Cop!

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