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International

Nintendo Responds to Petition Asking for Reinstatement of Same-Sex Relationships in ‘Tomodachi Life’ Game

Nintendo Strikes Down Gay Marriage Requests for Tomodachi Life - IGNJust weeks before Nintendo plans to release its life-simulation game Tomodachi Life in western markets, it has patched out a “bug” that allowed — as the company put it — “strange relationships,” AKA same-sex romances between characters. The decision has sparked an increasingly-popular online petition called Miiquality, which is asking Nintendo to reverse its actions.

Tye Marini, the 23-year-old Nintendo fan from Mesa, Arizona, who launched the campaign last month, said of his hopes for the 3DS game, “I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé’s Mii, but I can’t do that…My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiancé’s Mii, or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

In response to the petition and growing controversy, Nintendo released a statement, saying:

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Beverly Hills Hotel Under Fire for Ties to Sultan of Brunei, CEO Response Is Inadequate

beverly hills hotelThe Beverly Hills Hotel, a Hollywood institution since 1912, is used to being the site of many celebrity events. These days, the city’s famous elite are keeping clear because of ties to the Sultan of Brunei.

In April, the country instituted strict Sharia laws that would result in harsh punishments against those found guilty of “crimes” like homosexuality, adultery and getting an abortion, punishments that include stoning people to death.

On Monday, Jay Leno stood beside protesters across the street from the iconic hotel, saying he wanted to “make people aware” of the injustice and the hotel’s ties to it. Ellen DeGeneres says she won’t be going to the hotel “until this is resolved.” Richard Branson, Sharon Osbourne and Rob Reiner have also spoken out against the hotel. The Feminist Majority Foundation, Teen Line (a helpline for teens), The International Women’s Media Foundation and The Night Before the Oscars party have all been pulled from the venue. The pre-Oscar party is one of the most-star studded of the year and has been held at the hotel since 2003, raising $60 million for charity over the past dozen years. According to a spokesperson for the hotel, a total of nine events have been canceled out of a total of 550 that the venue hosts each year.

Christopher Cowdrey, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, which owns the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, has been quick to respond, speaking to the media directly about the issue. But what he’s been saying is terrible.

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Holland Tourism: Masters of Cool

Amsterdam Clipper Ship Sign2 Cropped“I never had such a good backdrop”, said President Obama. During a recent state visit to The Netherlands, he took a side trip to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, home of Rembrandt’s renowned Nightwatch painting. As his comment indicates, he was duly impressed. Only select destinations worldwide merit presidential visits, and a visit to The Hague prompted Obama’s trip.

The President’s visit may help put The Netherlands front and center for U.S. travelers, who represent the country’s fourth largest source of visitors. The Dutch tourism effort in the U.S. has been quite active lately, as Holland continues to upgrade its star attractions. Many of its famous museums are being renovated, and they’re reopening in stages.

We checked with The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) about its PR and marketing programs. They partnered with Amsterdam Marketing, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for a 3-year joint marketing program, “Holland. The Original Cool”. The campaign’s video series has been the most visible joint effort. Launched last year, it features Pim de Koel, the country’s cool brand ambassador, as he teaches an American traveler about unique aspects of Dutch culture. Last year the video received over a million views, and this year it’s a three-part series, with the second episode debuting today.

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Avril Lavigne Responds to ‘Hello Kitty’ Critics and Cries of ‘Racism’

Avril Lavigne (who apparently still exists) is taking some serious flack for her new video “Hello Kitty.”

Since the video first appeared on YouTube this past Tuesday (it has since been taken down and re-posted), shaming, angry tweets have abounded, and even the experts haven’t been sure what to make of it — the general consensus seems to be that it might be racist (pandering at best), and it’s definitely terrible.

Billboard magazine’s Jason Lipshutz called the video “an embarrassment in any language,” and Entertainment Weekly‘s Darren Frenich said, “There are serious questions about whether it’s offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious (this one’s for you, large Japanese fanbase!).” Read more

STUDY: Is PR’s Focus on Digital Media Detrimental to Brand Storytelling?

BPR Infographic V5 - Stories-without-borders-infographic.pdfTurns out, while managing to cram powerful, sharable, effective brand messages into 140 characters is an undeniably valuable skill, PR’s focus on digital media might be drawing vital attention away from effective storytelling.

This is according to a recent report by Berkeley 360, titled Stories Without Borders—International PR in an Evolving Media World, which explores current research and trends to discover how the global media landscape is shifting, and what that means for PR. The report states that, “the media in most countries has been transformed by digital technology, but success lies in the story, not the delivery.”

As a press release about the study explains that while boundaries are disappearing between print and digital media, between online, social and mobile channels, and between brands and their customers, the world remains a culturally, linguistically and geographically heterogeneous place—and brands and PR professionals forget this at their peril.

While social media networks remain a great way to build and engage local communities and are essential ingredients for successful PR, research shows that over half of the world’s population reads a daily newspaper, and trade publications remain the best way to influence senior decision makers. In other words: the press release is not dead, and people still want to hear a meaningful, engaging, and full-length story about the brands and companies they interact with. Read more

The Multifaceted Asian Consumer Market

Uniqlo Store SoHo Mannequins1 Cropped“Overall Asia is a market in flux, with radical changes and an influx of tech and global brands. It creates a society where consumers are being pulled in different directions”, said Bernd Schmitt. Not only are there distinctions between developed and emerging Asian countries, but he noted it’s also important not to generalize or stereotype Asian consumer and cultural trends.

Schmitt’s perspective is based on extensive experience living, working and traveling throughout Asia. He’s a visiting professor at Singapore’s Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI) and professor at New York’s Columbia Business School. He recently spoke at an event in New York about his latest book, The Changing Face of the Asian Consumer. Joining him were panelists Colin Mitchell, Ogilvy & Mather’s worldwide head of planning, and Brian Buchwald, CEO/co-founder of Bomoda, a marketplace for Chinese consumers to purchase premium global brands.

The main takeaways focus on the interplay of economic, cultural, brand and market factors.

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Joss Whedon Preemptively Apologizes for Making a ‘Mess’ of Seoul During Avengers Filming

Why Joss Whedon Is Already Apologizing for The Avengers_ Age of UltronLike we needed another reason to consider Joss Whedon a class act.

If you’ve ever lived in a city that was taken over by a film crew, you’re well aware of the headaches involved — celebrity sightings never seem worth the extra-long commute, the complete lack of access to your favorite coffee shop, or being treated as though you’re the outsider and the one in the way.

Even just an acknowledgement or a thank-you from someone involved in the filming might make up for it, but when does that ever happen?

It just did.

Filming for the new Avengers flick is set to begin in Seoul, Korea on March 30, and before his cast and crew swoop in and disrupt the goings-on of the city’s residents, director Joss Whedon released this preemptive video apologizing for the “mess” the process will inevitably make of the city. The tone of the video comes across as genuinely gracious, grateful, and appreciative of not only the city’s cooperation with the filming, but appreciative of the city itself, which Whedon seems excited to portray to an American and world-wide audience. Read more

Japan Chooses Pikachu to be Mascot of 2014 World Cup

Pikachu Named Mascot of the 2014 World Cup - IGNPlease, please tell us that when this decision was made, someone stood up and cried out with epic emotion, “Pikachu, I choose you!”

The Japan National Football team (or the “Samurai Blue”) will have some serious power in its pocket come the 2014 World Cup; Adidas, which designs the team’s uniforms, announced a partnership agreement with Nintendo that will make the adorably electric Pikachu the official face of this year’s team. Along with some of his fellow Pokemon like Charmander, Squirtle and others that appear in the recently released games Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, the globally-recognizable Pikachu will be tasked with sharing his “electrifying boost” with Japan’s best soccer players.

To make this branding partnership and cross-promotion complete, the team should totally take the field to this song, no?

Ukrainian Comms Pros Launch ‘Crisis Media Center’ as Russian Offensive Proceeds

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On a compelling but somber note, a volunteer team of professionals from at least ten different firms has banded together in the form of the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in order to distribute messages from leaders friendly with protest movement Maidan, which sees itself as the legitimate government of Ukraine. This move comes as Russia continues its campaign to forcibly separate the Crimea region from the rest of the country in the wake of deposed president Viktor Yanukovych’s retreat.

Last weekend we posted on the social media battle for legitimacy currently raging between Putin’s Russia and post-Yanukovych Ukraine—and that messaging conflict will only intensify both leading up to and following the scheduled March 16 secession vote.

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Pope Francis Gets His Own Weekly Magazine, Complete with Centerfold

POPE-master495Since his election to the highest post in Catholicism about a year ago, Pope Francis has captured both the hearts of his followers and plenty of worldwide attention for his progressive ways and social savvy. So, like those of any self-respecting international celebrity, his fans hunger for regular inspiration and inside access to the life of their favorite star.

Now, here to satiate that need is Mio Papa (My Pope), the pope’s very own magazine, which hit Italian newsstands on Ash Wednesday.

The magazine’s editor, Aldo Vitali, told The New York Times, “It’s a sort of fanzine, but of course it can’t be like something you’d do for One Direction…We aim to be more respectful, more noble.”

But with 68 glossy pages boasting photos, papal pronouncements, sneak peeks into his holiness’ personal life, and a pullout centerfold, it’s pretty much exactly like what you’d do for One Direction. Read more

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