Despite his best intentions to criticize an environmental campaign of German automobile manufacturer Audi set to launch on Super Bowl Sunday, Danny Brown was ultimately criticized instead. After perusing the background below, I ask you to consider whether it is preferable to write a blog post based on assumptions or a blog post with research.
The problem is, there’s already been a Green Police enforcement organization, but not one that you’d want to be associated with. This Green Police was part of the Nazi persecution and execution of millions of Jews in the Holocaust of the Second World War.
The implications of Audi’s choice of name for their campaign could be huge, especially since Audi is a German company. The first question is obvious – didn’t anyone at Audi’s PR or advertising arm/agency do any research?
There are two faults there, commented at length by me and George.
…When you consider the nation of Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection calls its enforcement officers the Green Police, it’s fair to presume Israel won’t be offended at this naming, so why are other people?
…I think the premise of this report is a total reach. First, the police unit in question (according to Wikipedia and the much-referenced Google) was named the Ordnungspolizei and not the “Green Police”… If you’re going to go after Audi (of America BTW, not Audi Germany) for using a general term also loosely associated with the Nazis then why not go after any German entity using any loose association?
Despite my and George’s contentions that Danny’s argument was lopsided, nearly every other commenter — a who’s who of PR enthusiasts — joined his bandwagon that Audi was sick, twisted, demented, and failed to Google the term, “Green Police” (which George points out is a transliteration and not an exact translation).
Audi of America’s spokesman, Jeffrey Kuhlman, elaborates why Danny’s assertion is untrue:
One thing that I think is also needed in order to put this into perspective is the issue of green police vs. Ordnungspolizei. Ordnungspolizei is directly translated to mean Order Police. It’s more than just the difference between capital letters and small letters, it’s official versus nicknames. And in our research not one person drew any other distinction other than “environmental”.
We researched the term. We tested the ad concept with focus groups. We sought input and reaction from key organizations, including the Jewish community, and we sent out a press release that went to thousands of media, and not one reaction. I then worked again with key Jewish leaders after the blogger raised the issue, just to make sure that we hadn’t missed something, and again, we were reassured that the term is not one that has historical significance, and that reactions to the term are completely in line with our intent … environmental enforcement.
You can read the comments since, including Danny’s that from a PR and digital branding angle, it wasn’t just me that wondered about the connection.
I guess George and I are the lone gunmen who didn’t wonder about the connection but could immediately tell Danny was criticizing based on assumption and not fact.
I recall a similar criticism I wrote 15 months ago about a marketing agency that was misaligned with its walking and talking. People weighed in with comments, and then the agency offered a comment and pointed out the error of my assumption.
Sometimes it takes a blogger a case study to learn the lesson the hard way.