During the past few weeks we have seen a very powerful demonstration of the strength of the Disney brand and the importance of image when we compare two separate tragic incidents.
In the first incident, we have a mother take a child to the zoo and when a rambunctious young child crawled under a gate and into a gorilla area. The gorilla had to be shot to save the child. There was an outcry among some members of the public and demands that the mother be criminally charged. Anyone who has had young children knows that a child can move at lightning speed in the blink of an eye. While diligence is obviously important, the call for criminal charges against the mother seems, at least, a bit unfair.
In a second incident, a child was reported to be with his family at the Disney resort at a Disney movie event on a beach near a lagoon. The movie ended, the child was walking on the edge of the water, in about a foot of water, when an alligator snatched him and tragically pulled him under water, despite his father jumping into the water and trying to fight the alligator. The alligators in the lagoon were killed, but the boy tragically perished.
In the second incident, the news reports were quick to point out that there were “no swimming signs” that were “visible from any angle”. There was no mention of the fact that the boy was not “swimming”, he was walking on the edge of the beach with his feet in the water. Would it have made a difference if he had been a foot or two to the side in any event? Further, even if he had been swimming should he have known “no swimming” meant that there were alligators in the water instead of just precaution because there was no lifeguard or dirty water perhaps? He was also a toddler and couldn’t read and should the parents know the severity of the danger?
Reports noted that this is Orlando and there can be alligators in the water. But who would think that a Disney lagoon next to a children’s event put on by Disney would be infested? Further, the people at the resort are often not from Orlando, they come from all over the world and Disney knows that.
Reports then surfaced that Disney pulled a number of alligators from the lagoon after the incident and that Disney “routinely” pulls alligators from its lagoons all over its resorts. This was apparently some sort of show of corporate responsibility. I read this and was personally stunned – Disney knew that it’s lagoons were infested with alligators, it apparently didn’t post any signs telling people that, and hosted a party for families who they knew had young kids on the edge of the alligator infested lagoon with no barriers, no warning about the alligators and no reported supervision or monitoring of the killer alligators that they knew were in the water steps away?
In my view this is simply an example of how people see news through a lens and often filter news through preconceived belief. In my personal view, Disney’s actions were infinitely more dangerous than the mother.
This is simply a discussion of my personal thoughts based on recent news events. It is based only on what has been reported and is not meant to be legal advice, analysis or criticism of Disney in any way, but simply an example based on reported events as an example of the importance of image and a discussion of media reporting.