Crisis? What crisis?

Several years ago the Economist published an interesting series of articles about crisis management. More recently the magazine suggested that it was important for any business in a crisis “to act fast, tell the whole truth and look as if you have nothing to hide” (see Bad for you). So it’s been interesting to watch the self-imposed crisis at the Franklin Mint that has been brewing since last November and developed rapidly during the last 72 hours.

The Franklin Mint, which sells “collectibles” including several Princess Diana dolls, is suing the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund for “malicious prosecution”, accusing the charity of having “acted in bad faith” when it initially sued the Franklin Mint for the rights to Princess Diana’s image in the late 1990s. The charity lost that case and was required to pay all the legal fees. The Franklin Mint subsequently decided it wanted revenge, and filed suit last November. This week the charity froze all grants to its beneficiaries citing the Franklin Mint’s lawsuit as the reason.

The initial reaction in the press was that the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund is in crisis, but in fact I think the Franklin Mint has more to lose from this unnecessary and wasteful dispute. The charity and its beneficiaries may suffer in the short-term, particularly if the Franklin Mint wins its case, but it’s unlikely that they will be affected permanently. The social problems that they address combined with the public’s collective memory of Princess Diana, will ensure that her favourite causes continue to receive help.

The Franklin Mint on the other hand is playing with fire. The media have cast them as the aggressor in this story, with Princess Diana’s favourite causes as the victims. Can you imagine the dilemma some of the Franklin Mint’s customers now face? Do they boycott Diana dolls in order to support her memorial fund, or do they continue to feed their collecting habit but possibly harm her charitable legacy in the process? That’s a tough call; either way the doll collectors can’t help but feel unhappy, and they may well hold the Franklin Mint responsible.

What was the Franklin Mint’s management thinking by taking on the ghost of a martyred royal celebrity? How could they possibly hope to win?

For more on this story see:

The irony is that the Franklin Mint is suing for “malicious prosecution”, but what other kind is there? Can you sue someone out of “good faith”?

One thought on “Crisis? What crisis?”

  1. As the founder of the Yahoo! Princess Diana Doll Club & a long-time collector of Diana dolls (more than 20 years,) this ridiculous situation has saddened me since I first learned on May 5th, 1998, of the Fund’s intention to file suit. The appalling waste of resources on both sides has been contemptible. The people running the Fund should have known better in the first place; the people running the Mint should have been gracious winners & behaved better as such. A lot of money has been wasted that should have gone to charity & on the Fund’s side, was GIVEN to them by donors who intended it to be used for charity, not for legal fees.
    The Mint was not the only company selling such products & the Fund only made itself look grasping by “going for the deep pockets” of the Franklin Mint. What about the Danbury Mint, Ashton Drake & the Great American Doll Company?
    However, this isn’t the first time the Franklin Mint has placed collectors in a position of having to make ethical decisions about our hobby. This time, however, several members of my Club have voiced qualms over continuing to support financially a company that would use their victory to get revenge on what many of us had already perceived as a grasping, petty-minded group of snobs, but now are in the position of persecuted underdog trying to champion the causes of the poor (despite the fact that the Trustees of the Fund were quite happy to squander millions of pounds meant for charity in their quest for vengence.
    I don’t find much to admire from either side of this dispute & I wish they’d just let it go at this point.
    During her lifetime, Diana herself accepted gifts of dolls in her image from companies (Lenci) & doll artists alike (Maureen Martin) & did not voice objections to sets created by Nisbet, the Danbury Mint or Goldberger Manufacturing.
    This “controversy” was completely dreamed up by the Diana Fund which selfishly believed that charity money was being diverted from their coffers to what they believed were companies attempting to profit from Diana’s untimely death. They failed to acknowledge that there had already been a Diana collectibles industry, with or without the extra charity connection, which was fatal to their suit’s success, as well as to their appeal.
    Me, I would like to go on with my collecting without having to struggle with ethical dilemmas & just ask, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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