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Archives: August 2012

Clint Eastwood and the 24-7 Internet PR Machine

This week the Republican National Convention highlighted the brutal nature of public relations.

Clint Eastwood, a national icon revered by Americans, seemed like a bulletproof choice as guest speaker for Mitt Romney’s big night.

Our culture worships celebrities for playing characters like Dirty Harry, who represent the tough guy all of us would be if we weren’t really the guys who we are.

Throw up the image of Eastwood’s legendary scowl on the big screen, have the aging Eastwood walk out to the podium, and watch a stadium full of well-educated, well-dressed (except for those hats) people cheer like One Direction fans as Eastwood’s thoughts and sanity painfully unraveled before them–all beside an empty chair occupied by an invisible President Obama. Everyone cheered. The whole time.

It was crazy. F-bomb crazy. Read more

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Biggest Stories of the Week

Absolut to Distribute 4 Million Absolutely Unique Bottles of Vodka

Since today happens to be the Friday before Labor Day weekend, you’re probably already dreaming of sunshine, barbecues, and cocktails sipped on decks. In that spirit (pun intended), we thought we’d share this bit of boozed-up marketing news.

According to AdAge, Absolut is gearing up to distribute 4 million individually numbered, completely unique bottles across 80 markets including the the U.S., China, France, the U.K., and Germany. The individualized designs use 38 different colors and 51 pattern types, and making them required a complete re-engineering of the company’s production plant in Sweden.

The process, which has been described as “carefully orchestrated randomness,” involved everything from splash guns to pattern algorithms. Jonas Tahiln, VP-global marketing for The Absolut Co., said of the process, “Absolut Unique feels a bit mad scientist, a bit street art…When the bottles first appeared on the conveyer belt, we cheered. By that point the production line looked more like an artist’s studio than a bottle factory.”

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‘Et tu, Brute?’ Lance Armstrong’s Assistant Turns Against Him

Despite the fact that Lance Armstrong’s recent decision not to fight the continued charges leveled against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency shocked observers around the world, millions remain in his corner. Be they die-hard fans who see no clear evidence of cheating, admirers who argue that his status as a cancer survivor and charity icon supersedes any ethical lapses, or longtime sponsors like Nike who have always seen him as a somewhat controversial spokesman, quite a few individuals spent the last week arguing that Lance Armstrong is a good guy no matter what.

Well, they’re not going to like this latest news. Mike Anderson, who served as Lance’s personal assistant and technician for two years while he dominated the sport of cycling, just published an extensive “My Life with Lance Armstrong” article in Outside Online magazine—and he’s not doing the champ any favors.

Anderson’s main point: Yes, Lance probably cheated. But, more importantly, he’s always been kind of a jerk. He didn’t just aggressively deny doping charges throughout his career, he repeatedly shot the messengers. These people weren’t just mistaken; according to Armstrong, they were “troll[s]” filled with “bitterness, jealousy and hatred.” Hmm…doesn’t respond well to criticism? Do go on…

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Invisible Obama Tweets for Your Entertainment

Today in PR Moves That Had to Happen: In the moments following Clint Eastwood’s bizarre, incoherent (there’s really no other way to describe it) speech introducing nominee Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention last night, someone set up a Twitter account under the handle @InvisibleObama, and if it wasn’t someone within the Obama re-election campaign then it certainly should have been. It seems that the account, which was disabled for some time, is now back up and running.

We’ve always loved Clint Eastwood for his gruff directorial style and the blank-faced stares that made the spaghetti Westerns so great (even though we thought “Gran Torino” was extremely weak), but his bizarre conversation with an empty chair representing the President overshadowed the speeches of both Romney and Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the way to becoming a predictable meme (we give “Eastwooding” about two weeks tops). More importantly, he opened the door for someone like the mildly amusing tweeter listed above to poke fun at the self-serious convention.

In summary: All publicity is not good publicity. Will this weird incident affect the election in any real way? No. But we’re fairly sure that Mr. Romney’s campaign has spent the day wondering whether Eastwood was the best speaker for the moment–and the answer should be fairly obvious.

The challenge for Romney’s communications team? Top this move at the Democratic National Convention next month. We’ll be waiting.

Ode to Andy: Campbell’s Repays the Warhol Favor After 50 Years

Like most Americans in the heady, mixed-up days of the early 60′s, Campbell’s Soup executives didn’t quite know what to make of Andy Warhol. The pop artist’s ongoing love letter to the chowders, bisques and broths that flavored his Pittsburgh childhood–rendered in hundreds of colorful variations via his signature screenprinting method–may have been the greatest free PR boost in American history, but Campbell’s wasn’t quite sure whether to embrace the art world ringleader, view him as a one-off oddity or sue him for copyright infringement (a course their legal team wisely chose to avoid).

In a sign of how closely Warhol remains tied to the Campbell’s brand, the company announced this week that it will release a series of limited-edition cans designed to pay homage to the artist, whose followers called him “Drella” in tribute to his dual personae: Dracula and Cinderella.

The cans will run in a limited edition of 1.2 million available exclusively at Target stores and cost 75 cents each, providing an opportunity for Campbell’s to both regain a bit of media attention and boost flagging sales numbers by honoring its most famous fan.

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Roll Call: Edelman, Shine America, ESPN, and More

Edelman has announced that Cathy Barry-Ipema has joined its Washington, D.C., Health practice as a senior vice president. Barry-Ipema comes to Edelman after 19 years at The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO), which accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. (Release)

In a separate release, Edelman also announced that Florence Baranes-Cohen will become the new director general of Edelman France. Baranes-Cohen joins Edelman France after seven years as communications director at the Carrefour Group; she will now be responsible for expanding Edelman’s robust operations within France. (Release)

Vivi Zigler has been named president of Shine 360° and Digital at Shine America, a production company owned by News Corporation. Zigler left her post at NBC Universal in July, but before that had been there since 1993. (FishbowlNY)

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The Ticker: PR vs. Political Facts; Ford Focus #1; Murphy’s Buzz; Back to School; Mr. Coffee

Spin the Agencies of Record

NCsoft West, a division of Korean online game brand NCsoft, publisher and developer of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), has appointed Hill+Knowlton Strategies as its North American agency of record. Since the partnership’s inception in July, H+K Strategies has been leading the media relations and supporting brand strategy for the release of Guild Wars 2, which launches this year.

Lincoln Davis, director of corporate communications, NCsoft West, explained, “We found a team within H+K that understands the magnitude of what Guild Wars 2 is going to bring gamers, and we feel their experience and passion for the gaming space will help us introduce its innovate gameplay to a broadening gaming audience.”

Wexley School for Girls has been named Agency of Record for HomeStreet Bank, a large community bank in the Northwest and Hawaii. Wexley was one of four agencies invited in for a formal agency review, and was recently awarded the HomeStreet Bank account.

“We are excited about the choice of Wexley School for Girls as our marketing partner,” said Dennis Floyd, VP/Corporate Marketing Director at HomeStreet Bank. “We believe their efforts will help distinguish our company from other financial institutions and help us increase our market share.” Read more

Are Zappos and Pinterest a Perfect Pair?

Shoe-seller/philosophy think tank/International House of Pancakes Zappos pioneered the concept of targeted ads, and they were one of the first companies whose ads would literally follow the user to other sites. Some found the practice to be slightly creepy, but it’s been incredibly successful for the guys in Vegas. They’re famous for their excellent customer service–so how might they customize the user experience even more?

Well, Zappos is great at making the most out of social media–for example, they earn an amazing $3.50 for every dollar they spend on Facebook ads. Clothing being a very visual field, Pinterest seemed a natural match—and now the shoe dudes have developed a new platform called PinPointing (check it out here) that uses pinners’ pages to recommend specific Zappos products.

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