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Archives: October 2012

PR Win: Governor Christie Officially Postpones Halloween

In case you didn’t notice, this has been a tough week for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he of the quick wit, sharp temper and big ambitions.

His state was hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, and we’d say it’s safe to assume he hasn’t gotten much sleep over the past three or four days: You may have watched him berate the mayor of Atlantic City for encouraging residents to stay at city shelters despite an earlier evacuation order; you may have heard him uncharacteristically praise President Obama’s storm response as “outstanding”; you may have seen footage of him together with the President this afternoon as the two surveyed the storm’s damage by helicopter.

This was all well and good, but today marks a far greater achievement for the Governor: he was won the week’s “best PR stunt posing as a government order” contest by officially postponing Halloween.

What does this mean, exactly? Let’s read the end of the official release, complete with charmingly arcane language:

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Happy Halloween: The American Public Needs Pumpkins

Sometimes we love what the public tells us about us. For example, this year the public spent $113 million on pumpkins, which is nearly equal to the total spent in 2011—a year that didn’t include one of the worst storms in history unleashing havoc upon the entire east coast just days before the holiday.

Most of us adults still have fond memories of Halloween pumpkins:

We recall those chilly autumn nights carving jack-o-lanterns with our brothers, debating the contours of the sinister mouth or eyes and centering the nose over uncooperative bulges while slopping out heaps of orange guts and slimy seeds onto wet newspapers.

Maybe we still nurse remembrances of being rebellious teenagers and smashing pumpkins with our ridiculous friends at the end of a cul-de-sac, holding our first beers and lying about our girlfriends. Adolescence, ugh.

Or maybe we even remember watching our own children scurry around a pumpkin patch, ebulliently selecting the perfect pumpkin as if it were something they were going to have forever. At least they may have the custom forever; as this article states, “Demand for pumpkins has risen since the late 1980s, with the emerging popularity of pick-your-own pumpkin farms across the country, according to Steve Reiners, an associate professor in horticulture at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.”

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‘Apple’ Secures The Beatles’ Granny Smith Logo

Well, it’s official — the iconic Granny Smith symbol of The Beatles‘ record label, Apple Records, no longer belongs to the timeless band that made it famous, but to the monopolizer of all things apple-related: computer and electronics giant Apple.

Thus ends the final chapter of what has been a years-long saga of legal battles between the record label and the computer company. In 2007, the two parties settled their major dispute: Apple agreed to purchase all of the Beatles’ related trademarks and then license them back to the band’s estate.

“We love the Beatles,” Apple founder Steve Jobs said following the 2007 settlement. “And it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks. It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future.” I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Even after the settlement, though, it seems Apple wasn’t quite ready to “let it be”. In an apparent effort to tie up any loose ends, Apple moved to secure its rights to the Granny Smith trademark in 2011–and that right was granted last week.

On a side note, I was able to go apple picking last week without the orchard paying any royalties to Apple (that I know of), so at least there’s that.

Roll Call: Hill+Knowlton Strategies, i.d.e.a., and HFS Consultants

Hill+Knowlton Strategies announced the appointment of Mylene Mangalindan as senior vice president of media relations working with the corporate and technology practice groups. Mangalindan will work from the firm’s San Francisco office and report to Paul Turner, EVP and general manager of H+K San Francisco. Mangalindan is an experienced professional with broad expertise in corporate reputation management and brand communications. She has a strong track record of delivering results and is highly skilled in media and influencer relations, crisis communications, internal communications, industry analyst relations and digital communications. (Release)

i.d.e.a. named James White VP of brand management. White brings more than 15 years of fully integrated marketing experience to i.d.e.a., where he will lead strategic brand and operational leadership. Prior brand experience includes Microsoft, Intel, American Express, adidas and TaylorMade. (Release)

HFS Consultants (HFS) announced the creation of a Healthcare Marketing and PR Services division. HFS’s healthcare marketing and public relations services will include: crisis communication planning, training and support; focus groups, surveys and other marketing research; capital campaign marketing support; website design and development; email marketing; social media; advertising; news releases; event advisories; media relations; and marketing materials such as annual reports, brochures, videos and trade show exhibits. Marketing veteran Dennis Erokan, president of The Placemaking Group–which has served as HFS’s marketing team for the past two years–will head up the new division. The marketing team will operate from HFS’s corporate headquarters in Oakland, California. (Release)

Atlantic City PR Team Downplays Storm Damage

Quite a bit of the recent Hurricane Sandy news coverage focused on the dramatic damage inflicted on lower Manhattan and areas of New Jersey–specifically Atlantic City. As we reported yesterday, the footage was bad enough to inspire a certain “Boardwalk Empire” fan in Philadelphia to start an advocacy campaign in the hopes of repairing the city’s iconic boardwalk as soon as possible.

Beyond the boardwalk, we’ve also heard reports about damage done to Atlantic City’s most important industry–gambling. When the casinos shut down, so does AC.

But the city and its tourism bureau have begun an understandable effort to push back against these reports of certain doom for a town that’s made a fortune on light-hearted fun. For example, Thomas Gilbert, district commander of AC tourism and employee of the state’s Attorney General, released this statement yesterday:

“The entire oceanfront Boardwalk in front of the Atlantic City casinos is undamaged with all dunes and lights intact. There is minimal-to no-visible damage to casinos and other businesses fronting the Boardwalk along the ocean.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk that was washed out by Hurricane Sandy is an area limited to the Boardwalk fronting the Absecon Inlet only. That small section of the Boardwalk is located in South Inlet, a prominent residential section of Atlantic City. It is a small stretch of Boardwalk that is being shown in video footage and photos.”

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More Poorly Executed Hurricane Sandy PR

Add Gap to the list of brands criticized for releasing Sandy-themed marketing messages during the storm. First there was American Apparel‘s “Sandy Sale“; then there was the Urban Outfitters email blast reading: “This storm blows (but you know what doesn’t?)” Yeah, that would be free shipping on all orders.

On Monday, Gap’s official Twitter feed earned negative feedback (and a full Mashable post) for trying to do the impossible: making statements of support for hurricane victims while simultaneously performing its primary purpose and promoting the Gap brand. Here’s the offending message:

OK, is this message insensitive? It could be seen that way, considering the fact that many who live in the affected area are currently without power and others suffered damage to their homes during the storm. Is it dumb? Certainly, because we can’t imagine too many people counting the hurricane lockdown period as a perfect time to buy chinos online. Was it “on brand”? Absolutely. Again, the purpose of the feed is, above all else, to promote the Gap.

Should we be offended by it? Come on.

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The Ticker: Hurricane Sandy Affects Business, Media Sites and Halloween; Star Wars for Sale; Tablet Market Gets Crowded

Can Crocs Make a Comeback?

Nothing exemplifies the unpredictability of public opinion more than the success of Crocs.

Crocs are the platypus of the shoe world. They look funny, but they’ve somehow managed to dominate a certain segment of the footwear market. Renowned for their vibrant color, orgasmic comfort and a fashion sense that combines the best attributes of a Nerf football and a kitchen strainer, Crocs have enjoyed an inexplicable level of popularity with the public–particularly the American public (we’re looking at you, Mario Batali).

While almost every other fashion line at least tries to combine both style and functionality, Crocs focuses on comfort above all else, and consequently revolutionized shoe design as a result. Most readers won’t be too surprised to learn that the original Crocs were designed as spa shoes. No one will ever win an Olympic competition in Crocs, but the line has made its way into mainstream life for many Americans.

Though the popularity of Crocs appeared to peak as their novelty factor faded, the company recently implemented a marketing strategy designed to re-brand its products as (wait for it) an upscale alternative to competitors—namely Skechers and Wolverine Worldwide—offering similar but less expensive shoes. Read more

Breaking: Disney To Acquire Lucasfilm, ‘Star Wars’

Today in Been There, Done That Media News: Walt Disney Co., fresh off its efforts to turn the once-stellar Pixar into a mediocre sequel factory, has announced plans to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. for a cool $4 billion, thereby taking ownership of the series that defined the childhood of every American born between…oh, who are we kidding? Every kid around the world loves the (original) “Star Wars” trilogy. We’ll just avoid mentioning episodes 1 through 3 (along with certain parts of “Return of the Jedi”), because we’d rather not get our blood pressure up this late in the afternoon.

Anyway: Get ready for more “Star Wars” rides at DisneyWorld!

The worst part of this announcement? ”Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future”–and George Lucas will serve as “creative consultant” on this monster of a vanity project.

Serious question: Did anyone anywhere in the world ask for another “Star Wars” movie? Or is George Lucas just making one last attempt to revive the embarrassing husk of what was once a promising career?

We leave you with the only appropriate response to this announcement:

‘Boardwalk Empire’ Fan to HBO: Help Rebuild Atlantic City!

Fans of the well-dressed HBO drama “Boardwalk Empire” and its most important supporting actor, Atlantic City, may be upset by these striking photos of an iconic Jersey strip all but destroyed by yesterday’s storm (more footage here).

One particular viewer wants to see Atlantic City restored to its previous glory—and she’s decided to do something about it. Philadelphia resident (and presumed fan of conflicted gangsters) Hannah Sassaman launched a petition on Change.org last night “while watching ‘Boardwalk Empire’ as Hurricane Sandy moved past her own home.”

Sassaman’s plan: use crowdsourcing to convince the show’s cast and crew, as well as HBO higher-ups, to get involved in the recovery effort. There’s no doubt that Atlantic City will require millions of dollars to repair the damage done last night, and big names can certainly bring more attention to related fundraising drives; Sassaman says her effort was partly inspired by the surge in public advocacy that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Her letter, addressed to the show’s “producers, cast and crew”, reads:

“HBO has won huge acclaim and made millions with its captivating story about how Prohibition changed countless lives. With the horrible damage that Frankenstorm Sandy wreaked on the city’s businesses and homes, HBO can use its powerful media platform to raise money and support local, state, and federal relief efforts.

Please use the high profile of Boardwalk Empire’s writers, producers, and stars to raise money for Atlantic City at a time when it needs it so much.”

What do we think? Will Sassaman’s efforts help raise money for Atlantic City? And can the strip be rebuilt? We’d like to be optimistic: If HBO can build such a period-appropriate model of the boardwalk, then surely the city can, with time, return to its former glory (tackiness aside).

Final note: In case you need a little cheering up, here’s an Instagram’ed rainbow over Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. We never thought we’d write this, but thank you, Al Roker.

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