Trafigura-esque Tangents, or A very progressive digital agency.
Here’s a scenario you get fairly regularly when you’re an inhouse lawyer: something nasty is being said about the company/brand/director and Something Must Be Done. How you deal with it is an acid test; do you scurry away and draw up a letter of claim in your best legalese, or do you calmly explain that threatening legal action is probably not a good idea?
Whether you’ve heard of Tangent Labs is a way of separating the political geek goats from the sheep, but if you’ve ever been on a Labour Party site you’ve probably come across something they’ve designed and built.
My views about their products are a matter of record. This is from March:
When I commented on the Political Scrapbook story, I referred to Labour’s favourite digital agency, Tangent Labs, who have been responsible for monstrosities such as this (which is vastly improved from its state at launch) and this. If such sites were free, that would be one thing – but Labour paid handsomely for them.
Someone else who’s apparently less than enamoured of their work is Luke Bozier, a Labour supporting communications consultant, who took the time to give a more detailed comment on the subject earlier today, explaining why he felt the Labour party’s relationship with Tangent Labs resulted in an array of very similar, and not very attractive, sites.
For his trouble, he reports, he
“…received an email from Tangent PLC’s executive director threatening potential legal action for my Tweet earlier suggesting that Gordon’s Brown website wasn’t very well designed.”
This is far from being the first time that a company most people have never heard of decided it was important to stop people saying nasty things about them online.
Someone at Tangent Labs needs to find themselves a web browser, navigate over to Google, and enter the words “Trafigura” and “Twitter”. As a filter, they might like to try “reputational disaster”.
Once that mounting sense of existential dread has nicely established itself, they might want to pop over to Twitter itself, and check out #OffTangent.
And for the record, Tangent Labs peeps, that #OffTangent stuff?
That’s the good news.
People are also using #ThatWebsiteIsSoPissPoorItCouldHaveComeFromTangentLabs.
As a general rule, when you’ve supplanting the BBC News redesign as the current gold standard for craply designed websites, you may have cocked up.
Other people are blogging it, creating more online records of the situation, and of the negative feeling it’s generating. Not a great situation for a web design company to be in: you have to think a lot of potential customers are going to check you out online.
This afternoon is rapidly turning into a masterclass in how not to protect your brand.
Legal threats: leave them to the lawyers. We’ll tell you when they’re a bad idea.