Superman had to contend with observers taking him for a bird or a plane. Similarly, in the New Orleans area, there has been some confusion about the difference between man and mannequin. On several occasions near Slidell, La., police and firefighters have responded to 911 calls about a man dangling precariously from a ladder leaned up against a billboard overlooking the highway.
When rescuers arrived on the scene, however, they discovered the "man" was not made of flesh and blood.
"Trouble is never far away. Neither are we" is the theme of the advertising campaign for Tenet's hospitals in the region. The seven billboards-intended to increase awareness of Tenet emergency rooms-are accompanied by a mannequin hanging from a ladder.
"Unfortunately, a few people who have seen the billboard have not realized it was a mannequin," says Carol Britton, Tenet's regional product line manager.
The irony of the campaign's unintended effect has not escaped her. "It was not our intention to create 911 calls that were not necessary," Britton says. "But it's at least got people talking about Tenet and our emergency rooms."
True Blues. BluePaw pet insurance company agreed late last month to change its name and signature color and to modify its logo after the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association sued it for unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
The lawsuit filed in March alleged that BluePaw's name mimics Blue Cross and its logo resembles that of Blue Shield's. The Blues association, which licenses its trademark to 45 human health insurers, also claimed unspecified monetary damages.
As part of a court injunction ordered Aug. 7, Portland, Ore.-based BluePaw is now TruePaws, trading in its navy and royal blue colors for brick red and black and reshaping its paw logo.
The Blues association declined to comment because of a confidentiality agreement. But its lawsuit claimed that the pet insurer's name and logo diminished the value of the association's more than 500 trademarks "containing the formative word `Blue.' "
Initially, BluePaw bit back: "Big Blue? Blue Angels? Toronto Blue Jays? Blue's Clues? Will Blue Cross and Blue Shield target these `color culprits' next?" asked BluePaw in a May news release.
Despite thorough legal research the company says it undertook before coming out with the BluePaw name, the 1,500-member pet insurer will be forced to overhaul its marketing materials, from buttons to bandannas. But BluePaw-or shall we say TruePaws-is taking the defeat in stride. "Thankfully, man's best friend is colorblind," says Alex Schrage, TruePaws' vice president of sales and marketing, "so he won't notice any change at all."
How a hospital shouldn't get publicity. Mark Petrie decided to take action when he heard a rumor was circulating that he had murdered his wife. Petrie's wife, Charlotte, died at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton Lower Falls, Mass., hours after giving birth to their baby girl in 1997. Petrie, a former respiratory therapist at the hospital, sought help from 228-bed Newton-Wellesley when he heard the rumor. But he says the hospital's public relations department "laughed at me." Then, according to Petrie, the hospital slapped him with a restraining order to keep him from talking to hospital employees.
A hospital spokeswoman has publicly denied knowing anything about the rumor. But in a court deposition earlier this year, a former Newton-Wellesley nurse said it had been "a widespread rumor" throughout the hospital that Petrie had used a muscle-paralyzing agent to kill his wife after her delivery.
Infuriated by the hospital's lack of response, Petrie paid $4,000 to print the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's entire report of the 4-year-old investigation of his wife's death in the Newton Tab, a weekly newspaper that serves the hospital's community. Among other findings, the report shows that hospital staff took five minutes after Charlotte was found unresponsive to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation and nine minutes more to use a cardiac defibrillator on her. Also, the staff failed to follow hospital policy for monitoring the level of a narcotic painkiller Charlotte was given.
Newton-Wellesley, which is affiliated with Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, took Petrie to court to block him from publishing the report but lost, and the four-page insert ran Aug. 8. The judge ruled that running the report, which had been public information for years, was Petrie's First Amendment right.
A week later the Newton Tab ran a letter from Newton-Wellesley President Michael Jellinek, M.D., who said, "Clearly, in 1997 we had significant problems with certain procedures and policies."
Petrie, who says he was looking only for the hospital to help him stop horrific rumors, has found the community to be supportive.
"I think everybody (at the hospital) thought that I was just going to tuck my tail between my legs and go away," Petrie says.