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James F. Thompson

James 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, 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.

Coca-Cola’s Latest PR Effort Focuses on Movement

The prevailing public sentiment has been trending towards healthier lifestyles for many years now, so brands that represent less healthier choices—from fast food to soft drinks—have had a difficult PR field to plow.

The public understands what is happening with this latest commercial (above) from Coca-Cola titled “Happiness Is Movement.” Coca-Cola has been under intense scrutiny from parents, health advocates, and even Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, and the brand needs to respond, to say something—preferably something that’s not insulting like, for example, BP proclaiming it loves the environment after years proving otherwise. Read more

Paris Tourism Board Asks French People to be Nicer to Tourists

In America, a grown man will bury his house underground and arm his pets with flame throwers because he believes the government is out to take his freedom. So before we judge Parisian waiters, let’s keep a little perspective.

But, yes, the French government is asking its population to be nicer to tourists, especially French people who work in the tourist industry. In terms of pride and culture this is a significant emotional step for France, and from a PR perspective, it marks a mature and very business savvy move in the right direction.

The world has suffered through a debilitating recession for years now, and the tourist industry has been hit hard—which means the populations who make a living from tourist dollars are struggling. There are many things about the horrible economy and financial strife that are beyond our control as people, but being nicer to people who give us money isn’t one of them.

The French government—knowing that increased competition from other foreign destinations, especially in Asia, will increasingly entice travelers to bypass France and Paris—is being prudently proactive. It has already passed out 35,000 “Do You Speak Touriste?” pamphlets to tourism industry professionals, taxi drivers and café workers, with 20,000 more on the way. The pamphlets offer tips on how to be culturally sensitive to people from different nations including the United States, Japan, and Spain. Fighting stereotypes with more cultural stereotypes? Uh oh. Read more

The PR Police Power of Self-Awareness During a Pot Festival

Effective PR requires two critical elements: knowing your audience and the ability to accept reality. Too often brands, celebrities and companies misidentify customer sentiment and lose any opportunity to create good will by being tone deaf, arrogant, or dishonest. (Or, in the case of Lance Armstrong, all three.)

So kudos to the Seattle Police Department, which—as we reported last week—implemented a uniquely audience-specific, creative and realistic Twitter campaign in anticipation of last weekend’s very public Hempfest. The celebration came on the heels of a ruling that legalized marijuana in the state of Washington last fall.

Knowing the penchant stoners have for snack foods, the Seattle Police Department handed out 1,000 free bags of Doritos sporting stickers informing participants that they shouldn’t drive while high or give weed to minors and—oh yeah—don’t forget to have fun, either. This isn’t polished marketing Geico green lizard PR. This is true public relations outreach. Here is the message the Seattle PD conveyed: We get you. Read more

The Ticker: Tumi; Al Jazeera; Paralympics Controversy; BitTorrent Trap; Video Game Sales

Spin the Agencies of Record

“A library implies an act of faith.”—Victor Hugo

MWW, one of the top five global independent public relations firms, today announced that it has been selected as public relations and marketing agency of record for hoopla digital, a category-creating service that partners with public libraries across North America to provide online and mobile access to videos, music and audiobooks. As PR and marketing agency of record, MWW will direct a program to launch hoopla digital across the U.S. and Canada, including media and trade relations, influencer outreach, digital counsel and national and local market consumer cultivation.
“We wanted a dynamic partner for our launch and we found it in MWW. The firm has a superb understanding of technology and how to communicate it to consumers. They also demonstrated the ability to reach our target audiences – from librarians and tech influencers to Millennials,” said hoopla digital founder and owner Jeff Jankowski. “MWW helped us craft a powerful message to position hoopla digital and it really shows in the results the firm has already secured for us.”

“Yachts are the closest a commoner can get to sovereignty.”—Charles Simonyi

Brandware Public Relations, an independent, full-service public relations firm specializing in enthusiast brands, has been selected as public relations agency of record for Elco Motor Yachts. Elco has 120 years of rich heritage in designing and manufacturing electric propulsion systems and classic motor yachts, dating back to the 1893 Chicago World Fair, where more than 1 million visitors experienced Elco electric-powered launches on the waterways.

Long before “going green” was fashionable, Elco believed in the benefits of electric motors. As the oldest manufacturer of electric boats in the world, Elco has also played an active role in many chapters of naval and U.S. history since it introduced electric motors to the marine industry. During the 1930s, Elco became part of Electric Boat, which became General Dynamics Corporation in 1952.Today, the company continues its leadership in designing and manufacturing category-leading electric drive technology and systems for displacement hull watercraft, including sailboats, trawlers, tenders and launches. Elco motors are designed and built in America. Read more

The Ticker: BMW PR; Coca-Cola vs. Sugar; Papa John’s; Apps for Kids; Airline Food

The Ticker: Taco Bell; PR Life; Govt. vs. Airlines; Hamburger Love; Trump vs. TWC

The Ticker: Twitter Power; Hotel Fees; Mars Trip; Yoplait; Honda & Drive-Ins

Behold the PR Power of the “Like” Button

The power of suggestion is alive and well on the Internet. A new survey offers some level of legitimate proof that “likes” on social media platforms such as Facebook do, in fact, encourage more “likes.” The same can’t be said for “dislikes.”

It appears haters just do not have the same digital clout as positive people. And that’s probably a good thing. We all know some people like to rant online when in a foul mood. Others just have terrible attitudes every day of their lives—and the Internet has been their dumping grounds for far too long. It appears the public is well aware of this, and that has to make us feel good about being in public relations. We’ve known all along that deep inside the public is all about good mojo. Read more

The Ticker: Kris Jenner vs. Obama; AmEx; LinkedIn; Fake Web Traffic, Political Blunder