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Spokespeople

Cancer Charity Raises Over 300% of Goal Just by Sending Brad Pitt an Open Letter

A letter to Brad PittCelebrity endorsements are the bread and butter of no-brainer marketing–whether an organization is trying to sell sneakers or stop poverty, a famous face’s stamp of approval can go a long way to getting the public to do, buy, or donate to something. But what’s a small charity to do when they want the power of a major endorsement, but haven’t the money or clout to get it?

They get creative.

A fundraising move by Stop Darmkanker, a Belgian nonprofit dedicated to ending colon cancer, has both proven the power of celebrity (even when that celebrity isn’t actually involved) and finally answered old Will’s famous question, “What’s in a name?”

If that name happens to be “Brad Pitt,” the answer is: the ability to help an organization you’re not even involved with meet its fundraising goal…and then triple it. 314%, to be exact. 

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More on BridgeGate: Gov. Christie has a Potty-Mouthed Spokesperson

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Flacks, this is not how to impress someone from the media. 

Just in case you aren’t seeing this correctly: That is an email from a reporter with the New Jersey Star-Ledger and that is a response with a highly loaded eff bomb. Nice.

Meet Michael Drewniak, he’s a little bit of a douche for thinking he can talk to a member of the press like that (even if he intended it to be behind his back), but he’s also Gov. Chris Christie’s spokesperson. Yeah, hurts to miss that one. Just when ‘BridgeGate’ couldn’t use any more fire, here comes the Gov’s mouthpiece spewing out gallons of kerosene.

And, there’s more where that came from, of course…

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Alicia Keys’ Last Day As BlackBerry’s Global Creative Director Is January 30

alicia keysBlackBerry, in its continuing efforts to stem the tide of losses and reinvent itself in a hyper-competitive mobile market, has decided that it no longer needs the global creative director services of Alicia Keys. It was announced yesterday that January 30 will be her last day, one year after the company made a big show of appointing her to the role.

The move comes as BlackBerry looks to rebuild its customer base as the device of choice for businesses. In all honesty, with the exception of a few ads and promotional materials, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what all Keys did during the course of that year. Which isn’t really an indictment of Keys or even BlackBerry. It just goes back to the basic question of why a company chooses a celeb to be the face of its brand.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme Is ‘Split’ About His Viral Smash for Volvo

I’m a linguaphile, verbose as they come. I love the English language. I even read the thesaurus in high school, for kicks. That said, when I saw this video of martial arts actor and kickboxing legend Jean-Claude Van Damme (yeah, he really is), all I could do to describe my visceral emotion was “Effin’ Incredible!

You’re welcome. What you will hear is Van Damme in a voice over reading, “I’ve had my ups and downs. My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics, and a mind-set to master the most epic of splits.”

If you haven’t seen this viral video for Volvo Trucks and Trailers, set back, dim the lights and enjoy. Oh, and according to “The Muscles from Brussels” (who is now 53 years old), this took one take! 

Now I don’t know if this makes me want to buy a $500,000 truck, but I sure as hell am breaking out my DVD of ‘Bloodsport’ and ‘Timecop’ tonight! Oh, BTW, it’s been verified: this is completely real. Again, dare I say, “effin’ incredible.”

Macklemore Makes Sense as the Spokesperson for the ACLU. Until He Doesn’t.

The ACLU wants you to become a member. And what better way to build that following than to get a famous spokesperson? And when you’re looking for a spokesperson, you want someone who is recognizable and is actually into the thing they’re talking up.

So it seemed to follow a logical train of thought when the ACLU decided to go with Macklemore as the face of their ACLU membership card. His songs have addressed equality for the gay community. He’s hip. All the youths recognize him. He’s sensitive but kind of goofy, as evidenced by his MTV Awards custom cape and his funny handling of crying babies while accepting a prize at the YouTube Awards.

But even things that follow logic can still end up being a bit of a train wreck.

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George W. Bush Wants to Help Convert All the Jews

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Say you’re an organization with a mission that might strike some (note that we said “some”) as…unusual. Provocative. Offensive, even. Who do you choose as a respectable public figure to help you raise money and get your message out there?

For the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, that person is former President George W. Bush. Keep in mind: the purpose of this organization is, in its own words, to “[help] educate Christians in their role to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and thus save some of them.”

That’s an unusually blunt SOP, no?

It should be pretty obvious how this story relates to PR, and we’re far less interested in the politics than the optics and the underlying strategy.

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#PRFail: Newport Beach Marketing Director Fired Over LAX Shooting Tweet

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / November 4, 2013)

TSA agents leave flowers and say a prayer at a memorial at LAX. Funny, right?

If you are responsible for social media in any fashion, you strive to know what is trending in pop culture. That useless knowledge actually contributes to time-sensitive tweets and relevant posts. And then, there is what Jeff Soto, former marketing director for Newport Beach, Calif. did

You’ll remember the tragic shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that left one agent dead and seven other travelers injured. While that left people reeling for days, Soto thought that would be a great opportunity to shill for his city and impress the corner office. To wit, he tweets this gem (courtesy of Mekahlo Medina of KNBC in L.A.):

I understand tourism dollars may be down with the economy, but is this fool serious?!

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INTERVIEW: Allison Goodin re: ‘Penn State Lives Here’

Penn_State_Lives_Here_LionA couple of weeks ago, beleaguered Penn State University came out with a new marketing campaign “Penn State Lives Here,” which was covered on PRNewser. This post (humbly submitted by yours truly) got the attention of one Allison Goodin, assistant director of university relations for Penn State Lehigh Valley.

We are a friend to the flack and the journo equally, and without reservation.

To wit, I asked Ms. Goodin a few questions about this campaign. My questions were based on its timing, challenges to overcome the devil’s own Jerry Sandusky and what impact she wants this campaign to have on the student body.

Much as I would encourage any of our readers, if a post is focused on your brand, holler back. We have no enmity toward the follow-up. A big shout out to Allison for the email, and on behalf of all of us at PRNewser, we wish Penn State University the best…or in this case, the happiest in the Valley.

Her interview is after the jump:

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Weight Watchers Rebrands Spokesperson Jessica Simpson

Not pregnant.Here’s an interesting takeaway from FishbowlNY regular Diane Clehane‘s latest Lunch column: rather than dropping Jessica Simpson after she complicated her contract by getting pregnant again, Weight Watchers has used the opportunity to create a new role for her and a new campaign to go along with it.

Seems like they didn’t get the message about letting “less credible” celebrity spokespeople go.

Media VP Andy Amill gave Clehane some details on their lunch date. First he said “Jennifer [Hudson] has been ‘amazing’ for the company” and that she “helped bring in…record traffic to WeightWatchers.com in the past year”, but we already knew that. Here’s the key development:

…now that she’s had her second child, she’ll be back, relaunched as Weight Watcher spokesperson. She will head up the company’s first-ever “Mom’s Initiative,” (that’s the not the official title, which is still being worked on, but you get the picture) targeting all those mummies who want to look yummy again. Clearly, Jessica’s struggles with post-pregnancy weight loss will resonate with plenty of mothers young and old as well as People and Us Weekly readers who have been following her every move forever.

Quite the savvy move turning a spokesperson’s unexpected pregnancy into a new marketing initiative. Of course, the fact that Simpson remains a fixture in the more respectable tabloids makes for an incredibly easy pitch. That’s a lot of earned media with very little effort.

Butterball ‘Turkey Talk’ Hotline to Hire First Male Operators and Spokesman

The times they are a-changin’.

This year, when you make a panicked phone call to Butterball‘s Turkey Talk hotline because you’re wrist-deep in a Thanksgiving turkey and realize you’re completely out of poultry seasoning, the hero on the other end of the line suggesting alternatives might be a man.

The helpline has offered advice and assistance to harried preparers of holiday meals for the past thirty-two years, but has never, in all that time, hired a man to dispense the domestic advice. This year, however, the turkey-seller is not only actively seeking men for the job, but also plans to hire a male spokesman.

Men age twenty-five and up can apply to be helpline operators (or even the spokesman) via an online application process, which opens today and closes Oct. 20. The gentleman selected to be the spokesman will both man the helpline and make media appearances.

The company says that while it never intentionally excluded men, it usually relied on word-of-mouth to hire its talk line operators, and its hires always happened to be women. In light of shifting household responsibilities and many families abandoning traditional gender roles, the company has decided it’s high time its hotline reflect the more gender-equal reality of modern American households. Read more

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