Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Can you damage your brand yourself? Step forward Mark Ames and XXL Club in London

Can posting something inadvisable on Facebook (or elsewhere) damage your brand in the long term? And how much damage does it do in the short term?

Most of you probably are unaware, but last week there was a bit of a furore in the gay community here in London around a rather inadvisable posting made by a club promoter on his Facebook page.

Some background..... Mark Ames promotes a pretty successful club in London called XXL. It was originally aimed at the more hirsute members of the community, and used to pride itself on it's open, non judgmental approach to gay clubbing (which, back in the day when it started, was a pretty new approach). In fact their tag line was "One size fits all". And it used to be a hoot to go to - lots of hi energy dance music, a fun busy crowd, cheap booze and a generally a really good night out. The crowd has changed a bit now (well, it has been open for nearly 10 years) but generally its still a fun night out - as long you're a fan of the Freemasons/Kylie/Lady Gaga.

Mark posted a bit of a rambly posting on his Facebook page, about boycotting Muslim businesses and "sending them all back" because of the number of casualties we're experiencing in Afghanistan. The Pink Paper and both picked up on this and ran with it. A couple of Facebook communities then started up in response - including Bears Against Bigotry. There were talks of a ban on XXL, and people did march with Imaan, the support group for Muslim LGBT people on Saturday's Gay Pride march here in London.

Mark closed off his Facebook page pretty much immediately (not sure that was such a good idea, but understandable knee-jerk reaction), and on Thursday last week he (or his PR advisers) published an apology, which also appeared on the XXL website (well, kind of - there's a link to Mark Ames Promotions' page on Facebook, which has no apology on it... oops!) and elsewhere.

All within 48 hours of the news breaking!

So... short term, what happened to XXL? Well, Mark allegedly banned some of the organisers of the Facebook groups from XXL. Bears Against Bigotry marched. They now have over 900 supporters, and have a logo and everything - and arguably are now not a group to be pissed off lightly (well, if they ever mobilise and actually *do* anything).

And I've heard XXL had a busy night on Saturday. I'm not sure banning a couple of people will really hurt takings any great deal. Although time will tell - this news has got round the community (mostly through Facebook) and once the Pride party weekend has been forgotten, it'll be interesting to see what happens longterm to the attendance.

But to be honest, this will probably all blow over in a few weeks time. After all - Mark's Facebook page has been around for years, and if some of the screengrabs I've seen of the alleged photos he'd published on there are anything to go by, he's made no secret of his personal views. I hadn't noticed any significant pressure to boycott XXL then.

And lets face it, we gayer's aren't really known for putting our ethics before our lifestyle if it inconveniences us!