Oh, Harvey no! Retail boss slams own products in PR gaffe

His company may be a pretty large retailer of computers and gaming gear, but Harvey Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey this week launched a tirade against these products.

In an interview with Ten News in Australia, Harvey complained about kids “wasting their life away” playing online games and not getting any physical activity.

He went on to say that if he could get rid of all “leisure computers”, he probably would.

This is not a great look for Harvey or his company.

Slamming the very products you sell, and by extension how your own customers choose to use them, is not great PR by any measure. Imagine a fast-food chain lambasting its customers for being too obese.

Sure, Harvey does raise valid concerns about kids spending too much time playing on computers and not enough being active, but the way in which he does so is not particularly constructive.

And it’s here that he has missed a great opportunity to positively contribute to addressing a very real issue, as well as to enhance, instead of harm, the Harvey Norman brand.

The world is filled with people who love to complain about the ills of modern society, but it is exceptionally short on those who offer practical solutions.

Saying that if he had his way, “leisure computers” would be banned is not a helpful suggestion by any means.

Even if children had none such “leisure computers” or games, they could just as easily be “wasting their lives away” sitting on a Harvey Norman-bought sofa staring idly at a Harvey Norman-bought TV.

If Harvey was serious about addressing the issue he obviously feels so strongly about, there are plenty of ways in which he could constructively do so.

As a leading and respected businessman and head of a massive retail chain, Harvey is in the ideal position to actually make a difference.

For instance he could spearhead an information campaign for parents on how to manage the amount of time kids spend online or playing games. Or he could help fund or promote community programme that help get children more active or make better choices about how they spend their leisure time.

Such gestures would give Harvey the opportunity to both raise awareness of this issue and to position his company as good corporate citizen, which engages constructively on social issues.

Now that would be PR gold, instead the online ridicule ‘gold’ Harvey’s rant at of his own customers has become.

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One Response to “Oh, Harvey no! Retail boss slams own products in PR gaffe”

  1. billbennettnz Says:

    I guess Harvey must have sold a billion dollars worth of leisure computers in his time. I bet he didn’t object to the profit on that.

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