In the video above two lawyers debate the merits of a potential lawsuit by Firefighter Keiley.
"We issue a sincere and deep apology to Firefighter [Robert] Keiley and this ad will not run again." The New York Post reports those are the words of John Barker, president of the Barker/DZP ad agency. It is a reversal for the agency that originally stood on the ground that a standard modeling waiver signed by Keiley allowed the agency to use his image as it saw fit. (Keep reading for my views on how a firm in the business of influencing the public could be so tone deaf in figuring out how to handle something like this.)
Here are more in excerpts from the latest New York Post article by Jamie Schram:
The Post reported today that Keiley — who joined New York's Bravest only in 2004 — was working as a model when he posed for what he thought would be used for a run-of-the-mill fire-prevention ad.
He appeared in generic firefighter gear and gripped a helmet for the shot — not the photo of the destroyed Twin Towers that was "put" into his hands with Photoshop software for the Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern ad.
"It's an insult to the Fire Department. It's an insult to all the families who lost people that day," said Keiley, 34, an ex-cop who now works out of an engine company in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Keily had threatened to sue.
I find it fascinating that even people in the image business couldn't effectively deal with this bad news right from the start. While it is possible they may have been legally and technically correct, they weren't going to win the hearts and minds of the public with the agency's initial statement about Firefighter Keiley signing the release. With the emotions that surround 9-11 I doubt that this ad was wise even if it wasn't a real firefighter as the model.
This is a reason why it is good for the deciders (thank you George W. Bush), including fire chiefs, to have people who will provide an honest view of how actions and decisions look to those on the outside. While I saw it as inevitable this ad would be pulled as soon as I read the first paragraph, people who had a stake in producing it might have been too invested in their work to see how this was playing.
Interestingly, the ad agency has figured out the ad must go, but Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern are still in the defend at all cost mode. From the New York Post:
But law firm senior partner Marc Bern insisted it did nothing wrong.
"It was all appropriate, due to the release signed by [Keiley]," he said. "We are trying to help the victims of 9/11."
Below is the complete statement released yesterday from the ad agency, Barker/DZP.
Our agency sincerely apologies for any pain caused by this ad, featured in today’s New York Post.
When creating the ad, we purchased stock photography of an actor dressed as a firefighter, and we obtained all required model releases and real property owner releases, specifically including use for any purpose (such as advertising) as well all rights regarding the manipulation and/or alteration of the image. This is standard procedure for advertising agencies. At no time did we have any idea—or could we have had any knowledge–that the person in the photo, Robert Keiley, was an actual firefighter, much less a New York City firefighter. This unfortunate coincidence makes the ad into something we never intended it to be.
The intent of the ad is very positive: making the heroes of 9/11 aware that funds are now available to help them through the Zadroga Act. It was never our intention to offend anyone with this effort, quite the opposite in fact.
We hold all firefighters in the highest regard, and believe all New York City firefighters are heroes. While our mistake was entirely inadvertent, we understand why the ad has caused hurt, we regret its use, and we accept responsibility. Our client was uninvolved in the selection of this photo and had no knowledge of any of these details. Out of respect for all parties involved, Barker/DZP has voluntarily withdrawn from this assignment.
We sincerely apologize to Firefighter Keiley, as well as the New York City Fire Department, and the brave firefighters who fearlessly served their city and gave their lives on 9/11.
New York, NY
March 28, 2011
Also on STATter911 …
- Now for the rest of the story: CNN & others take us behind the scenes of the dress wearing firefighters from Minnesota. Meet the firefighters & learn who they were wearing. – March 22, 2012
- This one speaks for itself (I think). Take a look. – July 5, 2012
- A must read: MI police union says IAFF standing in way of public safety ‘evolution’ by opposing merger of jobs in Bay City. Firefighters see it as cops raiding FD budget raid & a membership drive. – October 19, 2012
- Irate chief on video responds: ‘Nobody should judge me on one incident’. But should we judge how Chief Coldren & Uniontown are handling the aftermath? – June 14, 2013
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