Today’s guest blog is authored by longtime Peppercomm partner, Margaret “Maggie” O’Neill. Please share your reactions on the social channel of your choice…
Just this week, the Washington Post (and others) reported on Ring’s nationwide partnership with 400 police departments as a part of their “new neighborhood watch” mission. With this mission comes growing privacy and surveillance concerns that are certainly getting louder.
So, where does the good outweigh the bad for Ring, and for other brands with such clearly defined purpose?
I remember when Ring launched at the Consumer Electronics Show. I was in a taxi and saw a media clip from Las Vegas TV talking about the new company and how they had outfitted a high-crime neighborhood in Las Vegas with new doorbells and had already made a reduction in crime leading into the show. I thought it was brilliant. An idea that serves the greater good and is able to make a splash at the biggest tech show, is marketing gold.
Since that January morning, Ring has become a household name, breaking ahead of the other ten doorbell/security companies that launched that year, and expanding its influence far beyond the technology it provides. Its Neighborhood Watch program allows Ring users to opt-in to sharing their camera footage with law enforcement partners.
And even with the privacy backlash, Ring is standing behind their commitment (one that is authentic to the brand and has been in place since its inception). Eric Kuhn, general manager of Neighbors, Ring’s companion app, was quoted in The Washington Post saying, “The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer. We’ve had a lot of success in terms of deterring and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly.”
So, all good, right? Apparently not.
Well, according to the article, “legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm about the company’s eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly close relationship with police, saying the program could threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants, and subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have flagged as ‘suspicious,’ to greater surveillance and potential risk.”
So somewhere between sparking paranoia and protecting neighborhoods lies the mission that Ring set out on when they started. While the brand appears to have a large enough user base, brand loyalty and support from police to ride this out, scrutiny will only increase as the debate rages on.
As for me, I remain impressed with the first efforts in Las Vegas and with the brand’s continued focus beyond just their product. As long as Ring continues to walk the walk and remain consistent in their mission, they can weather this storm. But in a world where brand loyalty changes quickly, they need to stay ahead of the privacy pundits and ensure their opt-in policies remain just that.