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The Montague Street Bridge: a tale of how marketing fails to understand risk

Nestled in Montague Street, South Melbourne, approximately ten minutes from our office, is a low clearance bridge of three-metre height. The Montague Street Bridge entered notoriety on the 22nd of February 2016, when a charter bus failed to observe clearance signs and slammed into the bridge.

The driver failed to consider risk, but how did the company respond? Tape, to hide the brand, but clearly not to resolve the issue.

“We are out to protect our brand and make sure we don’t tarnish our brand, it doesn’t mean any disrespect.” (Gold Bus Ballarat)

Hiding rather than avoiding Risk (Photograph: Hamish Blair)

Had Gold Bus Ballarat viewed this action from a viewpoint of risk, they would have realised the consequences of the resulting scrutiny. Unfortunately, marketing often fails to assess risk factors, resulting in an extensive list of campaigns that have caused reputational damage, as well as financial loss:

This year has proven to be no different:

  • In March, Coopers failed to assess sponsorship risks when it was forced into a public apology when the Bible Society used its beers to film a poorly scripted debate on marriage equity.

On behalf of the Coopers Board and seniors staff, we’re incredibly saddened by the impact our involvement with the Bible Society has had on our valued Coopers drinkers and our extended family,” (Coopers Brewery)

  • A month later, Pepsi blew an estimated $100 million, plus a history of corporate social inclusion, due to its doomed campaign featuring Kendall Jenner and the trivialisation of social justice movements.

Each of these campaigns (and many others) would have never seen production, let alone public viewing, had there been suitable oversight and consideration of risks.  Despite these reputational, legislative and financial failures, history is likely to repeat itself with more examples likely to join this list.

Just like the Montague Street in South Melbourne, which has been hit at least six times so far in 2017.

History repeating itself: When Marketing (or road users) fail to consider risk

How do we prevent history repeating? We need to elevate marketing into the domain of governance, so that risk, as well as oversight, is embedded into decision making.

Join us as we explore Brand, Reputation and Risk: Managing Marketing Governance in partnership with the Governance Institute of Australia on Wednesday the 26th of July 2017 in Melbourne.

Registration details available at www.governanceinstitute.com.au/education-training/calendar-of-events/eventdetails/E00693/brand-and-reputation-marketing-governance

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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