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Posts Tagged ‘annoying stuff’

Lessons from the No Doubt Video Scandal?

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt via Interscope RecordsYou may have heard that late-90’s “ska” kings No Doubt recently jumped on the comeback train. You may have also heard that the band immediately ran into controversy over the video for their single “Looking Hot.”

For some reason, the video’s director thought it would be a great idea to dress the band members in stereotypical Western/Native American gear: feathered headdresses, leather leggings, teepees, cute cowboy outfits…you get it.

We like to play dress-up as much as the next guy (which is to say not at all), but we’re a little surprised that the creative team responsible for the video couldn’t see the “scandal” coming.

Anyway, the band predictably pulled the spot after too many people complained about it being insensitive to the traditions and concerns of the Native American community; they even shut down their own website’s online forum after discussion of the video overwhelmed fans’ comments.

Today Zimbio asks whether this controversy served any discernible purpose, and it’s a good question. Arguments on both sides popped up over the past week, with some decrying the proliferation of political correctness while others lamented the public’s general ignorance of American Indian history and the perpetuation of long-discredited stereotypes.

Can we take any lessons from the band’s screw-up other than the fact that big-name pop stars should choose their video themes very carefully? Did the band make the right decisions to control the damage? And how could they have avoided the controversy (besides making an entirely different video)? Here’s the offending spot in case you missed it: Read more

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Facebook Couples Pages: Dumb Idea or The Dumbest Idea?

Facebook Couples Pages DebutToday BostonInno asks a crucial question: “Are Facebook’s New ‘Couples Pages’ the Dumbest Thing the Internet Has Ever Given Us?” We’d say n0–that would be a three-way tie between “YOLO“, “Bronies” and Rebecca Black–but the public response to Zuckerberg’s latest awesome idea seems to be overwhelmingly negative.

Come to think of it, we can’t remember a single Facebook tweak inspiring anything but ridicule. Maybe the company needs to re-think its product rollout strategy…

Also: breakups will be a whole lot more public now, won’t they?

P.S. We do feel a little bad for Mr. and Mrs. Stephanie Holson above. We don’t even know them, but they already annoy us (and we’re married)!

The Public’s Love/Hate Relationship with the Airline Industry

Now that the costly and intense presidential election is finally behind us, it’s time to focus on the next big thing in the lives of Americans: Thanksgiving.

After a heated election and a devastating hurricane, the public is weary, emotionally drained and ready to spend some quality time with the people we love. But before we can sit at the dinner table beside our crazy uncles and gaze upon that steaming turkey, millions of us will have to overcome one last obstacle:

The airline industry.

Just when you thought your flight couldn’t get any more expensive, dehumanizing and unreliable, we bring bad news: flights and airports will be even more packed than usual during the coming holiday season. We’re guessing you didn’t believe that could be true, but it is.

Here are the stats to prove it: the average flight in Thanksgiving 2011 was 82% full. In 2012 that number will increase to 90%, with the overall number of travelers 3% higher this year than last. In fact, Airlines for America reports that 24 million Americans will travel between November 16 and November 27. While the number of Americans flying has increased, the airlines themselves have slashed costs, reduced services and stopped running unprofitable routes. Supply and demand–you get it! Read more

Hyundai and Kia Issue Debit Cards to Solve PR Crisis

Buying a car is a major purchase. When selecting the best make and model, consumers factor in various elements, from style and color to gas mileage. In fact, with gas prices rising and environmental concerns growing, fuel economy can be the determining factor.

You can imagine the PR dilemma Hyundai and Kia face after admitting they overestimated the fuel efficiency of 900,000 cars. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered the discrepancy, reporting that gas mileages were inflated by 1 or 2 mpg in most cases but up to 6 mpg in some.

This is not the sort of news that Hyundai and Kia can simply spin away–every time customers fill up their tanks and scoff at the numbers racing skyward at the pumps, they’ll remember being misled. Hyundai and Kia, Korean automakers and siblings, claimed that the mistake was due to “procedural errors,” which is both dismissive and ambiguous enough to infuriate any consumer who paid tens of thousands for one of their products.

So what are Hyundai and Kia doing to assuage the situation? They’re reimbursing consumers by giving them debit cards filled with a monetary amount they’ve based on a confusing formula that accounts for the customer’s location, driving habits and fuel prices in their region. The companies claim that they will refresh the cards as long as affected customers own the cars. Oh, and they’ve added a 15% “bonus” to compensate for any inconvenience.

You know what else is inconvenient? Having to plan your unnecessarily complicated budget around yet another card in your wallet.

Will the 15% “bonus” be enough to buy the public’s goodwill? We’ll be watching as Hyundai and Kia explore just how much money it costs to keep consumers from rebelling.

MSG to Employees Stranded by Sandy: Come in or Lose Vacation Days

We’ve read plenty of reports about companies using Hurricane Sandy as a promotional tool; but how are managers behaving? We assume that they’ve all been understanding and respectful of their employees during this extremely trying time, right? According to Gawker, the answer is a resounding no.

Managers at the Madison Square Garden company, a massive conglomerate including the New York venue itself as well as the Knicks, the Rangers, the MSG TV network, and several other venues, sent each of its thousands of employees an email message that will not earn the company any PR plaudits.

(When reading this message, remember that the island of Manhattan essentially still has no power below 34th street, which happens to be the very spot where Madison Square Garden is located–and that all traditional forms of transit have yet to return to operational status in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.)

A quick summary: The company understands that travel to and from the city is extremely difficult and time-consuming right now, and managers know that many employees are currently without power–especially those that live in New Jersey. But (and it’s a big but)…

“We recognize that many employees are impacted by the transportation issues as well as a lack of power, and that some are even dealing with personal damage and health issues. In the event that you need to make the personal decision that you are unable to come to work, you will need to notify your supervisor and take a personal or vacation day to cover the time off.”

In other words: Suck it up and get the hell out here or you’ll lose your days. How will you do it? Surprise us!

Will this be a big PR issue for MSG?

Read more

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.

Read more

Chrysler CEO Contradicts Romney Outsourcing Ad

We’re all a little obsessed with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy right now, but our last post reminded us that there will be an election one week from today—and that its winner will be the nation’s next president.

The latest election-related PR news centers on Ohio, a land forever competing with Florida for “most important state in the nation” status. Here’s our (very quick) summary of the moment’s hottest topic:

The 2009 government bailout of the auto industry affected an estimated 1 in 8 Ohio natives’ jobs, and Mitt Romney understandably wants to convince these voters that President Obama didn’t help them out at all (and encourage them to forget that he wrote an op-ed arguing against government intervention on the auto industry’s behalf).

In an effort to turn the issue to its advantage, the Romney campaign created an ad playing off Chrysler/Fiat’s plans to begin manufacturing more of its iconic Jeeps in China, which happens to be the world’s fastest-growing automobile market.

The ad implies that these new overseas manufacturing operations will come at the expense of American jobs and vaguely pins responsibility for the supposed job loss on President Obama. The general response within Ohio has been swift and decisive—nearly every significant local paper (even those papers whose editors endorsed Mr. Romney) questioned the ad’s accuracy  this week. Some pundits now speculate that the campaign’s bold move could amount to a PR fail.

Today brought the most decisive statement on the issue to date:

Read more

PR Fail: American Apparel’s ‘Hurricane Sandy Sale’

The hipster dud makers and serial perverts who run American Apparel are no strangers to controversy and bad PR–the company’s former rep recently published a cute book titled “Trust Me, I’m Lying”, and his thesis seems to be that bloggers, reporters and other media personalities are just as dishonest as he is.

The company made another dubious promotional decision yesterday by advertising a 20% off “Hurricane Sandy Sale” for email subscribers living in areas affected by the storm. The message encouraged customers to stop by local branches “in case you’re bored” so they can save a couple of bucks on cheap, LA-made t-shirts guaranteed to fray at the seams within six months.

This characteristically insensitive email blast inspired a stream of outrage on Twitter, with many users promising to boycott the chain and its silver leggings once and for all.

But will this stunt really hurt the company’s reputation–or its sales numbers? We somehow doubt it.

We can’t expect much in the way of respectable behavior from American Apparel, which has grown into a big brand by creating a series of NSFW ads that feature everything from grandmas in tights to bottomless porn stars while brazenly dancing along the line between clever and creepy. And we just don’t think this newest spat of negative publicity and online outrage will do much to damage what has proven to be a very resilient business. If CEO Dov Charney has his way, AA could even manage to escape nine straight quarters of losses and multiple bankruptcy scares to become a profitable company again.

But mark our words: getting out of the red won’t make American Apparel any less sleazy.

Social Media Spread Fake Hurricane News, Pics

We’ve all heard about the power of social media to bring people together and help spread information quickly, especially during crises like the deadly storm that struck the Eastern seaboard yesterday, causing multiple casualties and untold billions in property damage.

Twitter was, of course, awash in updates last night as Hurricane Sandy struck–and for breaking news, the service was quicker and in many cases more helpful than more traditional news feeds like those on the New York Times and CNN websites. Co-founder Jack Dorsey went so far as to tweet:

But yesterday’s perfect storm also reminded us of social media’s dangers: many users both intentionally and accidentally tweeted fake photos and misleading news “updates” during the storm. Seen that crazy image of ominous clouds building behind the Statue of Liberty? The flooded McDonald’s? The scuba diver in the Times Square subway station? The shark swimming along a suburban main street? All fake.

In a few cases, this fakery could have placed real people in real danger.

Read more

Party Affiliation Affects Brand Preference (Ugh)

Today in Almost Certainly Meaningless News: Many Americans consider their political affiliations to be a private matter and prefer not to discuss related issues at family gatherings in order to avoid fistfights; most would almost certainly insist that party affiliation has nothing to do with the products they buy.

But a recent survey by the respectable YouGov Brand Index indicates that political leanings and brand preference are at least somehow related:

The top ten most favored brands for:

Democrats Republicans Independents
Google Fox News Amazon
Amazon History Channel Craftsman
Cheerios Craftsman History Channel
Clorox Chick-fil-A Discovery Channel
Craftsman Johnson & Johnson Google
Dawn Lowe’s Clorox
M&M’s Cheerios Lowe’s
Levi’s Clorox Johnson & Johnson
PBS FOX Cheerios
Sony Discovery Channel M&M’s

Some of these “revelations” are so obvious as to be annoying: Lots of registered Republicans watch Fox News, and lots of registered Democrats listen to NPR. Next you’ll tell us that most registered Republicans prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama!

Most of the list is just confusing.

Read more

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