The insurance industry has gone into lockdown mode in a bid to protect the couple at the centre of a social media storm that has gone global in just a few days.
Footage of two Marsh
staff members from the Christchurch branch having an after-hours liaison
quickly built momentum after Kiwi media outlets picked it up from Facebook and Twitter after the weekend.
The couple’s audacious hour-long session was captured on film and uploaded by patrons of the Carlton Bar & Eatery in Papanui Road, Christchurch who could see everything taking place in the brightly lit office across the road while the couple remained oblivious to the attention they were receiving.
However, that was nothing as the initial ‘world famous in New Zealand’ status quickly spiralled exponentially and the unfortunate pair have now made headlines in Australia’s The Age
and Sydney Morning Herald
, the UK’s Daily Mirror
, Daily Mail
and Scottish Daily Record
and even US-based mtv.com
The reaction was initially positive, with comments such as: “Christchurch ‘romp’ couple get my total respect, if only for getting the words ‘sex’ and ‘insurance’ into the same news story.”
However, as details emerged that the man, a senior manager, was already married with children, reaction turned from supportive to pity for those affected by the fallout. Sources said the man was absolutely distraught since the film was made public.
The woman, an office junior, was said to have since deleted her Facebook profile due to the unwanted attention.
“I thought it was funny at first,” said one industry insider, “But when I found out it was an affair it was less of a laughing matter.”
“Catching people in the act and publishing it has become a blood sport,” said another source. “They don’t deserve global humiliation.”
One company who has dealings with Marsh
sent an internal email round requesting staff not to discuss the matter with brokers or the media due to the sensitivity of the subject matter.
Staff at Marsh
had also been told not to comment on the subject.
Meanwhile, an investigation into the matter was still ongoing. Marsh
NZ CEO Grant Milne told Insurance Business
he could not comment on whether the couple would keep their jobs as it was an employment matter.
He told media that an executive had been flown from Auckland to conduct the investigation and that the matter was being taken very seriously.
But one former Marsh
employee felt that chiefs at the US head office would not be amused.
“Just the fact that it has gone so big, I can’t see that going down well over there,” said the source.
“I think they’ll be out.”
In the meantime a backlash has also evolved against those responsible for posting the footage without thinking of the long-lasting consequences.
Columnist and comedian Michele A’Court said it had become almost a community punishment, a public shaming, for what was possibly an ethical or moral offence, she wrote in The Press
“What those two will lose – reputation, possibly their jobs, their loved-ones’ trust – aren’t as easily replaced as a car or a telly. And those photos and videos will never cease to exist. They are in the world forever.
“They’ll still be there when she’s applying for the role of CEO. And still there later when he’s a grandpa. That’s a long time to be humiliated. We should all ponder this when we reach for our phones, before we upload and post.”