Backlash against Duracell for Oso-related 'selfie'

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE - Battery company Duracell posted a picture on Facebook with the caption, "Our hearts are with you, Oso.  The Duracell #PowerForward team is on the way, with free batteries to help support the recovery effort."

That prompted hundreds of people criticizing where the photo was taken.

It wasn't in Oso, Darrington, or Arlington, where rescuers are working.  It was 60 miles away in Seattle's iconic Kerry Park.

"I think it's a little ridiculous. I feel like it's really a local disaster and people are maximizing on something where they should be focusing on victims and not necessarily focusing on these big companies that are coming in to make money off of it," said Kelsey Graves, who lives in Seattle.

Some of the comments from Facebook include:

"To all the critics mad about the photo, are you on your way there too?  What are you doing to help Oso from your keyboard on a FB post?" said Nimesh Perera.

"But first let’s just stop and take a selfie," said Joey Neal.

"This picture is going the wrong detection to go to Oso...," said Brad Lewis.

"This is messed up how many people are using this for promotion. Give without tooting your own horn," said Matthew Brown.

"Giving is giving. Duracell is doing a good thing and helping out, how about a thank you instead of all the negativity!" Sheresha Smith.

Ashley Prewitt of advertising agency Buzz12 said there's a fine line between marketing and helping.

"In situations like this when a corporation steps in to help a community help in times of tragedy or natural disasters, it's a wonderful way that putting the word out there that you have resources to help it's a wonderful way to embrace what you can do in return for communities and the public and customers possibly. But the key in sharing the content is making sure it's done in an appropriate helpful way as opposed to boosting your own audience," said Prewitt.

University of Washington senior public relations instructor Dan McConnell is also critical of the photo.

"The thing that bothers me about the photo is Duracell is filling the frame.  It's not telling you anything about them helping," said McConnell.

He said companies should help with disasters without seeking publicity for it.

"Help where you can help the most and don't worry about the having the name of your company represented. That story gets out eventually. People talk about it. With social media the way it is it'll get talked about on social media.  You'll get your reward without having to force it I think," said McConnell.

“For Oso, many of the first responders and rescue workers needed battery power for their equipment. We provided them free of charge,” Win Sakdinan, Duracell spokesman, added. “The picture was to show we were on our way to Oso since this is a national program.  For all past deployments, our social media fan base appreciates the warning in advance so they know battery relief is arriving.”

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