Has Labatt's brand been tainted by Magnotta's photo?
Update: Labatt has withdrawn their request for the Montreal Gazette to remove the photo of Luka Rocco Magnotta drinking Blue.
Charlie Angelakos, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, said, "we accept the Gazette's position."
Original: Labatt has opened up a can of controversy by threatening legal action against the Montreal Gazette, which ran a photograph of suspected killer Luka Rocco Magnotta drinking their signature beer, Labatt Blue.
The Canadian brewing company didn't like that their flagship logo was clearly visible in the image, which was taken from Magnotta's Facebook page early on in the investigation.
Karyn Sullivan, Labatt's associate general counsel, expressed the company's discontent in a letter to the Gazette.
"As I am sure you can understand, this image is highly denigrating to our brand, and we are disturbed that this image remains on your site despite repeated requests and the many images available of this person," she wrote, adding that the company would take "legal avenues if required."
The newspaper refused to swap in another photograph.
"Editorially speaking, it is not in our interest to promote or not promote any company's brand and in this case, after seeking legal counsel, we see no reason to remove the picture," the Gazette said.
Mark Bantey, the Gazette's lawyer, said the paper considers the picture newsworthy and has no intention of taking it down. He added that he is surprised the company made an issue of this.
Indeed, when word of Labatt's complaints were made public, the association between the accused and the drink really began to brew on social media.
A Twitter hashtag #NewLabattCampaign began trending on Tuesday, and many users poked fun at the company for bringing - if anything - even more attention to Magnotta's taste in beer.
"I don't always make bad PR decisions but when I do I drink Labatt Blue," tweeted @Dataclutter, pointing out the irony by spoofing one of Labatt's popular slogans.
Another user pointed out that other companies have avoided similar moves.
"You know Disney didn't make a fuss when he was wearing a Mickey mouse shirt," tweeted @Starbuckly, referring to the outfit Magnotta wore while passing through customs.
"Chill out Labatt."
Was Labatt's strategy for taking down the image a smart one? To what extent can companies control their brand image in the age of social media?
Can you think of a time when your perception of a brand was tarnished or improved by its appearance in unrelated news?
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on reader's replies.)
More entries for category: Canada
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