The Big Pitch: How should Disney respond to claims of sexual impropriety against an exec?






There is only one way for a company like Disney to respond to an ugly

situation like this: fire the employee immediately, make a

strongly-worded corporate statement about how employees are expected to

embody the company’s values and hope not too many people remember the

incident as related specifically to Disney. This situation has

highlighted the dark side of the Internet, and this is all good from an

awareness-raising perspective. This unpleasant circumstance means that

Disney can expect to be a news hook, primarily in Web-related stories,

in the future. Journalists examining the underbelly of the Internet will

continue to do so, and Disney shouldn’t stoke the fire by responding to

this incident overzealously. Disney’s public relations challenges are

significant enough already, and the company already faces the perception

of being a giant media conglomerate far removed from the world of Donald

Duck. However, given this most recent blemish, Disney should not engage

in a full-scale community relations or public relations campaign

designed to enhance its ’family’ image at this time, as it would be too

transparent and an obvious exercise in corporate spin control.

As former members of the Mickey Mouse Club climb the pop charts as

underage sex symbols, Disney should, after a few months, focus on a long

term campaign, possibly using local PR agencies in communities where it

has a significant numbers of employees, to remind people that Disney

means Main Street, U.S.A. and not the Santa Monica Pier.



Clearly Disney’s ’he’s not one of ours’ position on Infoseek executive

Patrick Naughton’s recent arrest for luring a minor on the Internet just

doesn’t cut it. The close associations between Disney and Infoseek, as

well as Naughton’s bright future within the Disney empire were widely

reported, and as a result, Disney needs to be concerned about the

’tarnished halo’ effect. Instead of remaining silent on the matter -

which in itself sends a message of indifference - the company should

emphatically state its support of the investigation of this deplorable

crime. Disney must also state its expectation that anyone associated

with the Disney name adhere to a strict code of conduct commensurate

with the Disney brand, which stands for family values and the well-being

of children around the world.



Disney should be commended for acting decisively in the dismissal of

Patrick Naughton. Now it should focus on ways it can improve the safety

of children from online predators. As the company has entered new

markets, the leadership must be aware of the dangers that can threaten

their traditional audience. It should voice their concern by focusing

attention on the children’s charities they have either founded or

support. This would be the perfect time to partner with the FBI or local

law enforcement to develop new software that makes it more difficult for

pedophiles to use the Internet as a hunting ground

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.