Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"It Was Only A Draft Document" -- And Other Lame Defenses -- In The Internet Age

Two object lessons, unrelated (if I might): (1) even a draft document -- if spread over the 'net (and increasingly, that is a near certainty, at some point -- if the document is inflamatory enough), is increasingly a source of lasting embarrassment, for global businesses -- especially where the draft may look like a foreign oligarch's influence/capitalist authority -- trying to impose its will, on any smaller local economy.

(2) It would behoove the two Mercks immensely to sit down and solve this naming confusion -- creatively, constructively -- and with very public shows of good will (in direct contrast to the odious public posture displayed under that link). It would burnish both companies' personas -- and end the appearance of each bullying the other, in alternating measure. Shorter version: Grow up, guys.

The news outlet Bloomberg, as reprinted in its BusinessWeek magazine, has made another full news feature of the confluence of the name flaps, and the social media-fueled protestors' confusion. [Since I've been linking these two concepts/memes -- and covering the name gaffes for four years -- I'd like to thank all of them -- for visiting, in the last 48 hours. Cool.] Here is a bit of the renewed MSM ink. Do go read it all:

. . . .The confusion has long been a sore point for the German company, which in 2011 went to court in an effort to secure the use of a Merck page on Facebook Inc.’s social network. The two companies, which also battled last year over website addresses, are holding private talks about the use of the Merck name with the aim of coming to a solution, Karl-Ludwig Kley, chief executive officer of Merck KGaA, said in an interview Feb. 7.

“We both have the legacy of Merck,” Kley said. “We have it for 350 years and they have it for almost 100 years. There are possibilities, it just requires some good will and creativity from both sides.”

Kelley Dougherty, a spokeswoman for Merck & Co., declined to comment.

The two Mercks started as one company, with its roots in Friedrich Jacob Merck’s acquisition, in 1668, of a pharmacy in Darmstadt. The German company set up a subsidiary in the U.S. in 1891; the U.S. company was expropriated in World War I and became independent. . . .

As the Northwestern University School of Business Marketing Prof. suggests -- as quoted toward the end of the Bloomberg article, it is high time to do something about the obvious confusion. If nothing else, the shareholders of one company (KGaA Merck) ought to complain, when the other company's "draft" documents (Merck US) damage the public reputation of the other (KGaA Merck).

Moreover, it is unbecoming of two multi-billion dollar public companies of such stature, in the internet-fed global economy for life-saving health care solutions. Two companies with nearly 350 years of once-entwined history -- and now -- separated for nearly a century -- to behave so very poorly. But not ready to "let go", as to Facebook-, and GLTD-spats.

C'mon now -- it is almost Valentines'. Kiss -- and move on. . . both of you.

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