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The Ticker: Mack Joins Levick; Systrom Joins Walmart; Magazines Are Back; And More

White House Hosts Dinner for Indian Prime Minister…While He’s Fasting

obama dinner

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the United States this week. In fact, he’s stopping by the White House, and as is customary when a foreign leader or head-of-state stops by 1600 Pennsylvania, the president will pull out the Red Carpet treatment.

Pomp. Circumstance. Dignitaries. And of course, a White House dinner.

While the chef is shopping at the Farmer’s Market in Georgetown preparing a seven-course meal fit for a prime minister, someone may want to inform the White House about one big dilemma. Prime Minister Modi is in the middle of a fast. You know, he’s not eating. At all.

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Kristen Bell Says the Paps are Leaving Her Alone After ‘No Kids Policy’

kristen bellKristen Bell can be seen these days in heavy rotation in a Samsung commercial with hubby Dax Shepard. One place you won’t be seeing her (or her child), however, is plastered all over the tabloids.

Earlier this year, the actress launched a “No Kids Policy” against the paparazzi, and strongly pressing people to boycott magazines that run pictures of celebrity children. She launched the campaign despite passage of a bill in California that was meant to curb overzealous paps. That bill had the support of big names like Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry.

It looks like Bell’s campaign is doing just as much to change paparazzi culture as the law. Bell says that with her second pregnancy she’s being harassed much less.

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Biggest Stories of the Week

Columbia Sportswear Thinks Every Athlete Should Use PEDs

Women's_Platinum_860_TurboDown_JacketColumbia Sportswear is going to win the SEO game or else.

The company officially introduced its new TurboDown line to the public today with the tagline “Columbia Sportswear Encourages PED Use”. That’s technically “performance enhanced down”, but in case you missed it here’s the second sentence from the press release:

“TurboDown is a patent-pending insulation construction that creates such outsized results it’s like a “down jacket on steroids.’”

Get it yet? No? Here’s a quote from company CEO Tim Boyle:

“Performance Enhanced Down offers unmatched performance and this winter, you can experience how science can enhance the limitations of nature, and it’s legal!”

We’re not exactly sure how effective this campaign will be. Columbia’s site is not on the first page of search results for the phrase “sports steroids”, but it IS on the first page for “sportswear steroids.”

On the other hand, we can’t imagine too many people searching for the latter, so maybe this was just an attempt to have fun with a press release.

It made us click — and unfortunately, we’re not high on anything.

Apple Damage Control Strategy: Blame Josh

Its appleAfter all the news and the pseudo-news and the record-breaking brand tweets, Apple finally responded to “bendgate” yesterday.

In many ways, the company’s actions show how far its strategy has moved away from the “take no prisoners” approach that an inside source described to us earlier this month. In that interview, the contact told us that the Apple of the past would never comment directly on anything. Yet he also noted that Tim Cook wants to “put a friendlier face on Apple”, and the company’s most recent moves seem to confirm that fact.

First, Apple release an official statement saying, effectively:

“Yes, a phone was bent, but it only happened to nine people (out of ten million).”

Apple even went further than that, inviting CBS to tour its previously super-secret iPhone testing facility to underscore the fact that everyone really needs to calm the hell down. The company even had some online brand advocates happy to let everyone else know that the “bend test” video you’ve all been passing around was a conspiracy dreamed up by a full-time hater.

Yesterday  brought a Bloomberg article that seemed to lay the blame for Apple’s performance issues at the feet of a single, unfortunate person. His name is Josh.

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Bad News for Journalists and PR: Coffee Is Terrible for Productivity

coffeeJust when you thought all was right with the world and your local barista got your order right (you know the one)…

A grande extra hot soy with extra foam, split shot with a half squirt of sugar-free vanilla and a half squirt of sugar-free cinnamon, a half packet of splenda, all in a venti cup. And fill up the “room” with extra whipped cream with caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. 

…turns out that coffee might not be the world’s second greatest beverage after all.

It’s no secret that hacks and flacks alike are terribly addicted to coffee, but now a study tells us that coffee may be the worst thing for productivity.

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Step Aside, Iron Man: Marvel Revamps Captain Citrus for Florida Orange Growers

captaincitruscomic1-coverartwork_custom-54e3aa1b66fc348958b7d1012207a645a6dbc303-s40-c85

What’s that in the sky? It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s…an orange-clad superhero bent on selling you Florida-grown citrus fruit?

That’s right, folks; taking his place in a long line of Marvel superhero legends like Iron Man, Captain America and The X-Men, is Captain Citrus, a collaborative marketing creation intended to help Florida’s citrus growers boost sales.

The original Captain Citrus, a long-outdated mascot for Florida’s orange growers, was more or less an orange wearing a cape. In an effort to bring the spokes-superhero up to date (and borrow some of Marvel’s lately-booming thunder in hopes of offsetting declining demand for products like orange juice) Florida’s orange growers commissioned the famous comic company to redesign the Captain, complete with rippling abs, his own digital comic, and even an animated trailer. Read more

Move Over, Oreo: #Bendgate Inspires New ‘Biggest Brand Tweet Ever’

KitKat was more fortunate than Derek Jeter this week.

The brand’s “real-time” response to the Apple #bendgate controversy has easily surpassed Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” to become the king of all corporate tweets. (For now, at least.)

Yes, it was clever. Credit goes to JWT London as we debate whether advertising or PR should own real-time social media marketing duties.

Why, exactly, was this particular tweet so popular?

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Roll Call: Waggener Edstrom Communications, Eastwick, Portland and More

Waggener Edstrom Communications announced the integrated communications agency has brought on industry veteran Chris Millward as general manager for its China operations. Millward is a veteran in the China market and has lived in Beijing continuously since 1994. He has worked with several of the world’s top public relations agencies including Edelman and Weber Shandwick and a host of multinational companies. Millward will report to senior vice president Matt Lackie, who oversees WE’s Asia Pacific presence, and work closely with other leaders in the region including Beijing General Manager Jason Cao, Shanghai vice president and general manager Cathleen Witter, and Hong Kong vice president and general manager Emma Richards. Millward takes over for Antoine Calendrier, who had been overseeing China from his home base in Hong Kong.  (Release)

Eastwick announced an expansion of its digital, social, editorial and research and analytics services with the addition of senior industry leaders to its team. Leading Eastwick’s Digital & Content Marketing Group is Sahana Jayaraman, vice president. In addition to her role as head of digital services, Sahana will lead the agency’s Content Marketing Group, responsible for branded content. Jun Quintana joins Eastwick as vice president to lead the company’s Research & Analytics Group. Jun brings more than 18 years of experience working in both traditional market research and communications/social media measurement. Michael Kanellos has been promoted to senior vice president and takes on responsibility for Eastwick’s Editorial Group, where he is continuing to build Eastwick’s strong tech-focused writing proficiency. Michael also continues to oversee Eastwick’s Cleantech practice. Joining Eastwick as senior vice president, client services, is Dave De Jear. Dave brings to Eastwick more than 20 years of experience in communications, public relations and marketing. Eastwick is also adding industry experts to round out global connections. Sharon Chan, who joined Eastwick from Hong Kong in 2012, has been promoted to Asia-Pacific (APAC) Industry Lead.  (Release) Read more

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