James F. ThompsonJames F. Thompson, a caffeinated Manhattanite, specializes in branding, PR, marketing and advertising. He published A Taste for Absinthe and The Cubicle Survival Guide with Random House, and his career spans digital and print, including C-SPAN.org, Dos Equis and Field & Stream. He self-published the novel Dead Animal People under the pseudonym Marina Nguyen. He has also taught English in Japan and literature on a Navy destroyer.
McDonald’s is giving Charles Ramsay free food for a year.
You know the situation: Charles Ramsay helped rescue three Cleveland women from the monstrous confines of kidnapper Ariel Castro, a heroic deed that landed Mr. Ramsay on national television where he instantly became famous for his candid remarks which included a reference to McDonald’s.
Since then, McDonald’s has been in the center of a public relations conundrum. Much of the public wanted McDonald’s to step up, do the right thing, and reward Mr. Ramsay for being a hero. Many industry experts agreed that this was a golden opportunity for the Golden Arches to capitalize on free PR.
However, some of the public and industry experts strongly believe that McDonald’s should never exploit a scenario that involves the pain and suffering of fellow human beings. Leveraging this event to gain free publicity is a crass and unforgivable.
By giving Mr. Ramsay free food for a year, is McDonald’s indulging in savvy or despicable public relations? Let us know what you think.
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The New York Times: Debate over ‘Jif’ vs. ‘Gif’ Rages On Despite Creator’s Preference
Chicago Tribune: McDonald’s CEO Fields Questions about Nutrition, Wages
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Advertising Age: CNN Joins Late Night Talk Show Battleground
“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” – Vince Lombardi
M&C Saatchi PR has been selected as the retained PR agency for Ubersense, the leading video analysis community for sports coaches and athletes. The appointment adds to the agency’s roster of consumer technology clients.
Ubersense is a Boston-based company that has developed two apps which enable athletes to reach their full potential through video analysis and social collaboration. Both Ubersense Coach and Ubersense Golf include precision slow-motion, screen drawing (telestration), side-by-side comparisons and easy sharing. Backed by Google Ventures and Atlas Venture, the Ubersense apps have already had over one million downloads with more than 205,000 monthly users around the world.
With a number of well-known technology clients in its roster, M&C Saatchi PR continues its growth in this sector. Globally, the firm’s other tech accounts include Twitter, Spotify and SimpliFlow.
“Light, God’s eldest daughter, is a principal beauty in a building.” – Thomas Fuller
Banker Wire’s Milwaukee facility is the United States’ most modern and productive mill of its kind. There, the company produces wire mesh products, customized for any aesthetic on any scale – from intricate design highlights to expansive building facades. LarsonO’Brien will be responsible for Banker Wire’s advertising and public relations efforts.
“Banker Wire is committed to continued innovation in its field. We look forward to using our experience in the building products sector to take the company to the next level,” says Jack O’Brien, President of LarsonO’Brien.
It doesn’t take a public relations genius to identify the obstacles Mike’s Hard Lemonade faces when competing with more established alcohol brands. None of the other brands include “lemonade” in their names. But does that mean the brand is fighting an unwinnable battle? Let’s take a look.
When the public thinks of lemonade we imagine adorable kids in baseball caps or ponytails behind a foldout table raising money for their class trip to the science museum. Mike’s Hard Lemonade wants the 25-to 35-year-old demographic (especially the lucrative male market) to think “Lemonade? Cool. Let’s booze it up.” The most difficult public relations aspect to this PR conundrum is that lemonade holds an entrenched place in our culture, and once an image, product or event becomes part of our culture, it’s almost impossible to spin.
There is something young and innocent about lemonade, and there is something distinctly adult and mature about booze. Nevertheless, Mike’s Hard Lemonade is investing $15 to $20 million into efforts to modify this perception of lemonade, led by a new tagline: Never Not a Good Time. The brand wants to extend its product into all facets of American lifestyles and not just summer-related activities such as barbecuing in the park or backyard volleyball.
As PR people, we know this is going to be fun to watch, because the brand is being candid about its bold goals: to make a lemonade-flavored alcoholic drink more manly without losing female customers while also changing lemonade’s role in our culture. It’s a kind of like a modern, grown-up, multi-million dollar lemonade stand. But will the public buy into it?
Public relations professionals are tasked with keeping their clients in the minds of customers. To accomplish this challenge, we employ an arsenal of weapons that leverage various assets from marketing strategies and advertising campaigns to digital brand identity platforms and old-fashioned storytelling.
However, as this article in The New York Times explains, nothing creates a lasting impression in the mind of the public more than being in their line of vision. It’s all about location. For small business owners, kiosks present an opportunity to be in the middle of the public where customers have 360-degree exposure to the company’s products—all with minimal overhead.
Is this the future of retail public relations? Are storefronts going to be rendered archaic as new, smaller and more nimble businesses gain traction? This same principle happened in the food business, where food trucks revolutionized the restaurant industry by offering customers on the move quality products at reasonable prices. Instead of becoming a destination for customers, food trucks and kiosks go the extra step of meeting people half way. And this makes sense.
Public relations is a competitive, proactive endeavor. Brands and companies should make an effort to be where customers already are, and smaller more mobile venues offer this ability. Perhaps the retail industry is poised for evolutions that food trucks and food carts have already leveraged. And if so, is the public ready for such changes in their shopping habits? Are we ready for a Nike kiosk or Gucci truck outside of our office, or do we still want the traditional shopping mall experience?
Chicago Tribune: Twitter Bolsters Security after Hacking Sprees Spread Fear
The New York Times: U.S. Retail Brands Face Moral Dilemma after Bangladesh Tragedy
The Washington Post: Abercrombie & Fitch’s PR Mistake Continues to Live Online
Los Angeles Times: Jennifer Lopez Joins Verizon in Effort to Reach Latino Demographic
Advertising Age: Nutella Confronts PR Debacle by Reversing Course
You can almost feel the money changing hands.
For decades your obnoxious uncle with the gold tooth, the arrogant office IT guy who streams illegal movies, and the cheeky neighbor whose dog pees on your lawn have all shoved out their hands and said, “How much you wanna bet? Huh? It’s pronounced ‘gif’– you know, like ‘gift’ but without the ‘t’.” Each and every time you declined the invitation. You refused to shake hands, even though you were 80% confident that they were wrong. Well, now we all know for sure.
Steve Wilhite, who unveiled the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) in 1987 while working for CompuServe, has ended the debate. GIF is pronounced “Jif”—yes, like the peanut butter. Mr. Wilhite made the announcement while accepting a lifetime achievement award for his controversial creation this week at the Webby Awards.
And congratulaions Jif Peanut Butter on a public relations coup.
The New York Times: Apple CEO Rejects Accusations Company Avoided Paying Taxes
Chicago Tribune: Tech PR: Microsoft Unveils Xbox One Home Entertainment System
Advertising Age: The Best and Worst of TV’s Upfront 2013
TechCrunch.com: Yahoo Offers Flickr Users Terabyte of Storage Space
We’re sorry, but let’s be candid about what is going on here: this blog post is a formality.
By now most PR industry professionals and fans of Nutella know that Ferrero, the corporate overlord of the coveted Italian chocolate-hazelnut spread, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sara Rosso, the blogger, brand advocate and source of energy behind World Nutella Day and its respective social media presences—which includes almost 40,000 likes on its Facebook page.
Ferrero claimed Ms. Russo violated the brand’s intellectual property rights and trademarks, which, from a legal perspective, we’re guessing is true. So kudos to Ferrero’s lawyers for their diligence and professionalism; only legal minds that see the world as a contentious, litigious and unlovable place could pursue such an agenda against a woman who only wants to celebrate the same product they’re hired to protect.
So this blog post can’t offer any unique insights, penetrating advice or general truisms other than what everyone else already understands: this was a colossal and unbelievable PR screw-up. It exposes a level of tone deafness and corporate barbarism that one would find in a dystopian novel about zombie-machines chasing the last handful of human beings across a torched Cinque Terre for one last taste of flesh. Yes, from a PR standpoint, it’s that crazy.
So where do Ferrero and Nutella go from here? Supplication. Ferrero must make things right with Ms. Rosso and the terrible ramifications of this inexplicable decision. And apparently the brand is doing just that. Ferrero recently reversed its decision and dropped all legal proceedings against Ms. Rosso. That’s right: World Nutella Day is back on.
But Nutella is living in a different world than it did just a few short days ago. We’ll just have to wait and see how forgiving, if at all, the public will be.
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