Friday, September 18

You Make the Call...Advertising

A couple weeks ago you were at one of your local coffee spots enjoying a fresh, brewed just for you, cup of caffeine when you commented to the clerk, whom you fancy, how much you love the coffee there.

"These keep me awake to save lives" you half joked, half hoped she was single.

The bells rang over the radio and away you went on a call, not giving it a second thought. You've been back every shift, so has half the fleet.

Yesterday morning the newspaper has a new ad running showing your ambulance parked in front of the coffee shop with your quote in large block letters. Medic 99 clearly visible on the side.

This morning a memo is out asking those responsible to come forward. Your Department's policy on endorsing products in uniform is clear: No.

After sipping the last of your coffee, your partner asks why you turned red. You make the call.


Capt. Schmoe said...

This is what is called a pivotal moment.

Option #1 - ignore the memo, let them do the work, hope they are too lazy/busy/incompetent to do the work and find out what happened.

Option #2 - come clean, tell the truth.

Personally, I would go with option #2.

A casual remark to a semi-hot waitress does not, under any definition, constitute a product endorsement.

Anti-endorsement policies are intended to prevent public officials from receiving gains as a result of endorsing a product. Unless you were receiving free or cheap coffee and knowingly provided material for that ad, You should be OK.

The department may even have legal recourse against the shop for using the image for commercial gain and a false endorsement.

Also, I would be familiar with the firefighter bill of rights (if your state has one) and have union representation with you when the meetings begin. You never know if someone has an axe to grind.

Usually, getting caught lying is worse than the initial offense anyway.

kbow18 said...

I would go with Capt. Schmoe's Option #2 as well.

I would also go to the person you made the comment to, or even to the manager of the coffee shop, and state that your comment was in no was a product endorsement and that they do need your permission to use your words in their advertisement.

Unless your boss is looking for a reason to fire you, then you will be fine.

EMT Tim said...

I'm missing where you saying you liked the coffee can be constituted as an endorsement. Sounds to me like the store manager saw you guys in there a lot and took an opportune picture without consulting anyone.

I don't see what there is to worry about. Guilty conscience?

Anonymous said...

Come clean, involve the union if they try to make a big deal of it. You've done nothing wrong - you haven't even actually said that the coffee's nice, just that it keeps you awake!

The real crime, however, is using such an awful chat-up line!

Matt said...

I think it's pretty straightforward that you go with #2. It's an offhand comment, and if she gave you free coffee or a discount that's still a common enough occurrence that you shouldn't get lit up for it.

The real problem is that someone took a picture of your ambulance and used it for commercial gain. Someone could sit outside their business all day and wait for our trucks to pass, and then Photoshop in "Endorsed by the Fire Department."

Honesty is definitely the best policy here.

Anonymous said...

You See, this is why I waited do long to get into EMS. It was the rear of making split second decisions that affect lives and careers. I am no good at this, I would fall on my sword right there and try to figure out how to wangle a date out of this with the cute chick.
They can't nail me for the endorsement, there is nothing in writing and they took my "polite compliment" as something it was not.

Glad to see an easy one this week HM, my volley calls have increased 200% this week (soemthing in the water, I'm sure) and I've been monitoring my Dad's A-fib all week and trying to convince the cardiologist to do his job. I am wiped and it's the first time I could sit and read all week. Tahnks for the break.
Capt. Tom

medic999 said...

I'm going the same as everyone else here HM. No wrong doing has occured, other than the actions of the coffee shop owner, therefore just go to the bosses and say what happened.
I guess the only problem would be if the coffee shop owner was the kind of person who would go 'word against word' and say the member of staff involved was aware of it.

In the words of the famous philosopher, JIm Carey, in Liar Liar....." The Truth Will Set You Free "
(is it sad that I remember that????)

FireCritic said...

You marry her because she makes a good cup of joe, ignore the memo, NEVER admit to anything, and tell your partner that he will be staring down the barrel of a butt whoopin if he admits to any guilt.

Then you blog about the first time with the starbucks waitress and we hope that she is one of the chics off of Playboys Women of Starbucsk!!!

The hell with all of you "by the rules" kinda guys. We gotta get the chic every once in a while! Don't we?

Valar Morghulis said...

Capt. Schmoe's #2 - It just strikes me that the hole that has been dug so far is still shallow enough to step out of. Doing so before it gets much deeper is always the best option.

Ckemtp said...

I don't think that they can get you for anything. Your service had no reasonable expectation of privacy, nor did you when you made the comment. They can use the photo and the comment.

It's not wrong for medics to stop and get coffee. My personal mortality rate would be close to 85%, and I'm talking for things like hangnails, if I couldn't stop at the local coffee shop.

Just don't tell my wife I think that the clerk's hot. She'll kill me.

Mark said...

I would tell my partner what happened.

I wouldn't comply with the memo simply because I am not responsible for a business without my knowledge or permission snapping a photo of the ambulance and using a statement of mine that's no endorsement. If I was directly asked if I was responsible I would say no. If I was asked if I came up with the "These keep me awake to save lives" statement I would say yes only after getting representation. The coffee shop did not connect the quote with a department employee and did not say anything about endorsement therefore this should be a non-issue to begin with.

the observer said...

It's an asshat memo but I agree, go to the boss, bring a union rep and tell the truth.

This is not what the rule was made for, but people are leaning on your boss the way he's leaning on you.

And stonewalling just never works.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, the Admin may not be headhunting for someone to discipline, but rather confirm the fact that no department member agreed to represent the department in an endorsement. Coming clean as soon as possible would demonstrate that you were not trying to hide anything. I'm sure everyone has made a similar comment at one time or another stating how coffee, mountain dew, tea or power drinks kept them alert to save lives. From a legal standpoint, so long as there was no written contract or endorsement made by you, there would be little recourse the administration could take against you. Likely they would have the City or County Attorney request the coffee shop to pull the ad and possibly publish a disclaimer that the department does not endorse their establishment. Honesty is always the best route. Triple J FL

Big Show said...

It was clearly a mistake. You didn't say "hey, use this in your next advert" I would simply come forward and explain what happened. If the higher ups are level headed, they should understand.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have to agree with Capt. Schmoe's option #2 - come clean, tell the truth.

You did nothing wrong, you went out for a good cup of coffee. It obvious this coffee shop is a fleet favorite, they must have good coffee. And you were just making a smart ass comment about the good coffee, and saving lives.

The coffee shop is gaining something by taking your unit's picture and running the news ad.

The local Starbucks down the street gives emergency services works (fire figther, police, ems, 9-1-1) a discount is they come in with their uniform, and there is a Tim Hortons in the downtown core the is the unoffical meeting place for all the Sierra and downtown rigs.

verification word: skill

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

This YMTC is worthless without a picture of the clerk. Really.

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

BTW, I love that your ref/IC in the vest has his coffee in this pic. Sweet. See, someone noticed...

The Happy Medic said...

Thanks for noticing the cup, and the clerk?...Well, we call her the Unicorn. Some claim to have seen her, but few actually have since she works at a number of the stores around town.
Producing a photo would simply draw too much attention.

Think Scarlett Johanssen meets Megan Fox. No exaggeration. And no proof.