GoldieBlox Debacle Continues

Ronn Torossian is a PR expert and CEO of 5W Public Relations

Image via The Huffington Post

It seems like the GoldieBlox story just won’t go away. The company is back in the news again, and what started as a huge publicity boon, might just end up blowing up in their faces. Will they need a crisis PR Agency?

GoldieBlox is a toy company that markets engineering toys for girls. Their message is essentially, “skip the ‘pink aisle’, and get what you really want girls.” Now, putting aside all the political and social arguments that stem from that sentiment, the idea is fair and marketable. However, how the company chose to do its marketing may not have been. In an initial video commercial for the company’s products, GoldieBlox chose to use a version – they call it a parody – of the Beastie Boys song, Girls.

Fair use being what it is, they never bothered to check with the artist who created the music. As it turned out, Adam Yauch specifically amended his will to keep advertisers from EVER using their music for ANY advertorial purpose. When the surviving Beasties sent a letter to the boss at GoldieBlox essentially saying the same thing, the company SUED THEM.

The blogosphere and entertainment media erupted. Suddenly, the tiny toy company had all the PR it could want. Then it went and promised to do what the band – and its legions of fans who now had kids in the exact age range GoldieBlox is targeting – wanted. It would pull the commercial, and drop the lawsuit.

Fast forward a year. The ad has been pulled, but the lawsuit remains. In response, the Beastie Boys have filed a strong countersuit. And this is where the PR fallout could get really messy. GoldieBlox got the pop it wanted from the controversy, but they may find out that the sentiment now being attached to that popularity is not what they are looking for.

Who really wants to be the company that sued the friends of a dead icon for the right to steal his work against his expressed will? Apparently, GoldieBlox.

Brands can fall even faster than they rise and public opinion is notoriously fickle. That sun today might just be torches burning tomorrow.



Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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