Do you want a libel writ with that?
January 12, 2016
In the 1980’s, green activists David Morris and Helen Steel handed out a leaflet criticising American fast food giant McDonald’s. What followed was the longest civil or criminal case in British legal history, a £10 million legal bill, and a supersized portion of bad PR.
By taking them to court, McDonald’s drew huge attention to claims that were in a leaflet that only a tiny number of people had read. They inadvertently created much more publicity for the claims. What made matters even worse is that the Judge upheld several of the claims in the leaflet. McDonald’s had basically spent millions to publicise damaging claims which were then given credence by the Judge.
Some things to takeaway – When you attempt to stifle people from being heard with litigation it only attracts even more negative attention. This is known as ‘The Streisand Effect’ after singer Barbara Streisand attempted to suppress photographs of her Malibu home and ended up generating much more interest.
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