A shopping center in Glasgow, Scotland is embroiled in a social media crisis that’s sparked a boycott.
It started on Friday when Chris White, a 45-year-old father, snapped a picture of his daughter eating ice cream at the Braehead Shopping Centre. Staff at Braehead thought White looked a bit suspicious. Here’s what happened next, as explained by Scottish PR professional Scott Douglas
“First detained by security staff and made to feel like a pervert. Next he was questioned by police and made to feel like a terrorist. Thirdly, he was interviewed by traditional media and portrayed as a victim. Now he is being championed by social media and becoming a cause celebre.”
As of Monday afternoon, more than 15,000 people have “liked” the Boycott Braehead Facebook group
Braehead responded with a statement
defending its actions.
“Our priority is always to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for all our shoppers and retailers,” the statement said. “The member of our security staff acted in good faith.”
The statement reiterated that employees at the shopping center thought that White look suspicious and that he allegedly did not indicate he was the child’s father.
Via its official Twitter account
on Monday, Braehead also said:
“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.”
On his blog, Scott Douglas criticized Braehead’s response and said the company should have responded immediately with the following three steps:
• Acknowledge the public disquiet. We hear your comments, which are overwhelming negative, so we’re taking a look at all our policies and procedures.
• Apologize to White. We’re sorry that in this instance our efforts to safeguard children resulted in distress being caused to father and daughter.
• Move on positively. We are going to work with police and child protection specialists to work out better ways of doing things.
While Baehead’s official response notes that people have spoken out about the incident, but does not apologize or suggest it will review its policies. Instead, it concludes the statement by saying:
“I’m sure people will agree it is better safe than sorry.”
Wonder what the more than 15,000 people boycotting the shopping center think about that.