Father-Daughter Ice-cream Crisis in Scotland

Father-daughter bonding time turned into a communications disaster last week in Scotland.

The Picture That Set Off the Media Firestorm

Background

Last Friday, Chris White, a 45-year-old father, took a picture of his daughter. They were out eating ice cream at the Braehead Shopping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

The staff at Braehead thought he looked suspicious and he was approached by security. According to White’s Facebook page for boycotting Braehead, here is what happened next:

“He then said I had been spotted taking photos in the shopping centre which was ‘illegal’ and not allowed and then asked me to delete any photos I had taken. I explained I had taken 2 photos of my daughter eating ice cream and that she was the only person in the photo so didn’t see any problem. i also said that I wasn’t that willing to delete the photo’s and there seemed little point as I had actually uploaded them to Facebook.

He then said i would have to stay right where I was while he called the police, which seemed as little extreme. My daughter was crying by this stage, but I said that was fine I would wait and began to comfort my daughter who was saying she didn’t like the man and wanted to go. After about 5 minutes two police officers arrived.”

White was told that, due to anti-terrorism laws, the police where within their right to confiscate his cell phone. Instead he was allowed to keep his cellphone but was barred from Braehead.

Public reaction

As of Tuesday afternoon, over 24,500 people have “liked” the Boycott Braehead Facebook group.

Braehead’s initial response?

“We note all comments, but acted in good faith-based on info we had at time. Both ourselves and police are investigating Mr White’s claims.”

“I’m sure people will agree it is better safe than sorry.”

Since this includes no apology or admission that they were wrong in their treatment of White, some, such as PR professional Scott Douglas, would claim that this statement is a bad PR move for Braehead. Douglas also mentions the communications no-no of Braehead deleting angry customer comments on their Facebook page.

Coming around

After being called out on their lack of apology and for deleting Facebook posts, Braehead issued a statement on Facebook letting customers know that they are changing their cell phone policy and finally apologizing to White.

Your reaction

Do you think this is a communications crisis for Braehead? Should they have apologized? Sound off!

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One Response to Father-Daughter Ice-cream Crisis in Scotland

  1. scottdouglas says:

    Thanks for the link to my post on this subject.

    It really was a model case study in what happens when a story breaks, capturing the attention of both traditional media and social media – and finding PR people unprepared or ill-equipped.

    Your readers may also be interested to see this:

    http://storify.com/scottgdouglas/a-social-media-snafu-by-scottish-shopping-mall

    It is an easy-to-follow Storify timeline of how the whole firestorm played out.

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