In November 2011, two campus police officers pepper-sprayed protesters at University of California, Davis.
If you'd like to learn about the chain of incompetence that led to this, read the independent report. For instance:
Lt. Pike is also responsible for the specific pepper spray weapon he used, the MK-9, and the manner in which he used it. The MK-9 is not an authorized weapon under UCDPD guidelines. UCDPD officers were not trained in how to use it correctly. And Lt. Pike did not use it correctly. The MK-9 is a higher pressure type of pepper spray than what officers normally carry on their utility belts (MK-4). It is designed for crowd dispersal rather than field applications and “[t]he recommended minimum distance for . . . application of the MK-9 is six feet.” Lt. Pike appeared to be spraying protesters at a much closer distance than 6 feet.
As one of its responses, UC Davis spent $175,000. Was it on use-of-force training for campus police? Crisis management training for administrators? More classes on constitutional rights for students? Nope. They spent it on an "online branding campaign" to "expedite the eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results" about UC Davis.
Outsource your marketing, outsource your ethics and your reputation. Had the leadership of UC Davis consulted with, say, one of its students, they would have learned that this was an extraordinarily foolish plan. But marketeers, who have an incentive to make money (though rarely as much as $175,000), can't be counted on to tell you about the Streisand Effect or about the limited usefulness of SEO woo or about what happens when a plan like this gets revealed. Marketeers market. So I doubt that Nevins & Associates or "IDMLOCO" advised their client that the natural and probable consequence of spending $175,000 on this was that sooner or later it would become public and a nearly-forgotten incident would blow up and it would dominate UC Davis search results and make them look sordid and ridiculous. Maybe they have a strategy to deal with it, for another fee.
Do you wonder why college costs escalate? One reason, certainly, is that there is no consequence for administrative idiocy or incompetence.
UC Davis, next time you want to waste money to make your reputation worse, I can beat $175,000.