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Spokespeople

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

FTC Threatens to Give Bieber a Spanking

Dude, it doesn't count if we can't see the label.

Most 19-year-olds don’t get a chance to visit outer space, leave their pet monkeys stranded in Germany or cruise the California highways in a leopard print Audi 8 at speeds high enough to draw warnings from local cops and former NFL players.

In some ways, however, Justin Bieber is just like every other American boy; he loves his mommy enough to buy her flowers every Mother’s Day. More specifically, he loves 1-800-Flowers, and he wants his 40 million Twitter followers to know all about it.

No one should be surprised to learn that Bieber has a contract with 1-800-Flowers, but you won’t see any mention of that fact in his promotional tweets. The Biebs is only the most prominent of a slew of celebrities endorsing brands on Twitter and other social media forums with no disclaimers in sight. Kim Kardashian, for example, often makes five figures for a single branded tweet but never discloses her relationships with her sponsors.

That might change soon if the FTC has its way.

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Tony Siragusa Depends on Humor to Sell Adult Diapers

Let’s face it: the marketing industry is partially responsible for promoting the stereotypes that we all seem more than willing to embrace. Real men are interesting, handsome and confident. Real women are sexy, supportive and apparently love to do laundry. And then there are the rest of us, the real people.

Brands want us to think that we need their products to land that dream job, take that dream date home to bed or be that perfect parent to our children. Reality, of course, is much more complicated. Unlike the actors in commercials, not everyone in life has straight teeth, perfect hair or the driving ability to park an SUV atop a mesa.

Marketers, of course, believe that by selling us a varnished version of our tarnished real lives, the public will gladly hand over its money for a taste of the life exalted in the advertising. And that’s fine. This is how human beings have sold products to each other for centuries. This dynamic, however, may be changing. In many respects, the public is becoming more self-aware and self-accepting. The public wants models that look more like regular people and products that don’t specifically target stereotypes of men or women.

The public also wants brands to recognize our humanity, and that humanity includes our need to be old, vulnerable and far from perfect. Enter NFL star Tony Siragusa, the new face of Depend Guards and Shields—products aimed at men with bladder leakage problems. You heard that correctly, leakage. It’s not a word many advertising copywriters would circle and say, “Let’s leverage the power of this word.” Read more

Reebok Took Our Advice and Dropped Rick Ross

We have to tip our hats to Reebok today for taking the hint and dropping rapper/fake gangster/failed sneaker spokesman Rick Ross from its celebrity roster. In case you missed it, the company found itself in a PR bind when someone noticed that the lyrics to Ross’s latest single seemed to tell a tale of date rape via champagne spiked with ecstasy. Yesterday Reebok announced that, while they do not feel that Mr. Ross’s verse actually condoned sexual assault, the brand “holds [its] partners to a high standard” and believes that the rapper “has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse” despite some desperate attempts at a last-minute apology.

This was a no-brainer for Reebok. Of course, the proactive individuals at UltraViolet who created the anti-Ross petition probably had a bit more to do with the decision than this humble blog, and we’re not the sort of people to take credit for others’ work, but we’d like to think of ourselves as members of the chorus.

On a final note, if Reebok or any other brand wants to hire a spokesperson with “street cred” in the future, they might want to refrain from choosing a guy whose entire backstory is a product of his own imagination. Just sayin’.

Weight Watchers Finds Its New Spokeswoman on Twitter

Here’s an interesting case study in crowdsourced social media branding: Weight Watchers, which faced some PR challenges when its spokeswoman Jessica Simpson got pregnant in the middle of her contract, found its newest celebrity backer via Twitter search!

The company’s social media team noticed that comedienne Ana Gasteyer had been tweeting about her weight loss experience and brought her feed to executives’ attention. They quickly moved in to secure her as a spokesperson — and now she’s created a series of TV and online ads set to debut this month. We can see why they’d be interested after reading tweets like these:

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Aflac for Affleck: The Duck Picks Argo for Best Picture

Aflac The 85th Academy Awards ceremony airs Sunday night, and all eyes will be on actor/director/Bahstun accent promoter Ben Affleck as his international drama Argo vies for Best Picture (and he tries to get revenge on the Academy for failing to nominate him in the Best Director category).

We have a feeling that Ben is a little tired of strangers approaching him and yelling “Affleck!” in a poor imitation of a certain feathered insurance spokesman. Too bad–we’ve just received word from our sources on the inside that the Aflac duck (sadly no longer voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) has planned a “soup to nuts social media campaign” to promote his “phonetically favorite filmmaker” on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #Aflac4Affleck.

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