Unfortunately Matthew Somerville did get letters from the lawyers (and marketing director, but more of that in a moment), asking him to take down his accessible re-working of the Odeon cinema chain’s website.
Marketing people and lawyers can, it seems, too easily be in the thrall of “Brand” with a big “b” and mortified about what might happen to their business due to imagined assaults on that most tangible of assets; rather than what is happening in their interactions (or lack of it) with their customers.
A few years back, 4 guys wrote a book that called on business to get on board the Cluetrain, and realise that the web was returning markets to being conversations, and that the relationship between a brand, and it’s customers was going to become one of peers to each other. In parallel, the open source movement has gone from being something of an IT industry oddity to the subject of leaders in The Economist and The Harvard Business Review amongst others; about how open, networked innovation can benefit all sorts of industries.
But aside from it being leading-edge business thinking – isn’t it just good business sense, and downright grown-up to put aside the “not-invented-heres” and the legal doubletalk, and admit when someone has done you a whacking big favour? As Matthew Somerville has done for the Odeon Cinema group?
The guy who emailed Matthew to ask him to remove from the web the hard work he had put in to make their website accesible and easy to use, was Odeon Cinema’s marketing director, Luke Vetere. His email address is LVetere@odeonuk.com.
I’m going to email him and ask politely whether he couldn’t reach an agreement with Matthew where the expertise and work that Matthew did could benefit Odeon and their customers. Perhaps you could too, if you think Matthew was doing something right, because, hey – markets are conversations.
UPDATE: Phil Gyford is on this too, and it seems that the Odeon’s existing site just plain doesn’t appear in some browsers.