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Posts Tagged ‘bad pr’

What Happened to The Onion’s Twitter Feed Last Night?

We generally love The Onion for its hilarious headlines and The AV Club‘s great arts coverage (no, we never actually read the articles, but we’re not the only ones). But in the midst of last night’s Oscars ceremony, between Seth MacFarlane‘s musical boob jokes and Jennifer Lawrence‘s wardrobe malfunction, the magazine’s Twitter feed dropped this stunner:

We don’t even know how to respond except to say: what the hell? Sure, MacFarlane was a little out of line when he said–about a nine-year-old girl, mind you–that “it’ll be 16 years before she’s too young for Clooney”. But this was just ridiculous. Was it supposed to be funny? We hope, for the sake of whoever posted it, that he was very drunk at the time (we’re about 99.9% sure it was a he, because no lady we know would ever use that word in public).

We can’t say that we’re offended on her behalf like Wendell Pierce, aka Bunk on The Wire:

But this was definitely the worst attempt at humor we’ve ever seen on behalf of The Onion. And we have a feeling they’ll be issuing an official apology by the end of the day.

A PR Save for Boeing?

And now for an update on what is simultaneously one of the most important and least interesting PR debacles of the year to date: the Boeing Dreamliner controversy. Earlier in the week Japan’s Transport Ministry appeared to give the company an “out” by blaming the new 787′s various technical problems (overheating, smoking engines, flickering lights, emergency landings, yadda yadda) on a “miswired” battery.

Excuse us for being skeptical, but that’s just too easy.

Boeing seems to agree: today officials went to Washington to propose changes in the battery to the Federal Aviation Administration in the interest of creating a more fire-resistant aircraft. Any changes would be subject to FAA approval and the company’s technicians would first have to demonstrate that these changes “ensure safety.”

We can’t see that happening anytime soon, so the Dreamliner will remain a massive liability for Boeing and, arguably, the airline industry in general. It’s all bad news for Boeing and its investors–but does the public really care?

How Should Applebee’s Respond to Its Ongoing PR Crisis?

In case you haven’t heard, quite a few people on the Internet are upset at Applebee’s right now for its actions in the tale of the obnoxiously self-righteous customer. After the story blew up, the company went strangely silent on social media, but on Friday its PR team got pro-active, releasing an official statement from the company president and choosing Facebook as the best forum in which to respond.

There’s a reason for this: Ad Week recently named Applebee’s as the most “socially devoted” restaurant brand on Facebook. But this story has proven to be its greatest social media challenge: “What’s the Buzz”, a homepage feature showcasing tweets about the brand in real-time, has been overwhelmingly negative for the past few days.

The new damage control effort began with this post:

The message goes on to clarify that the fired server violated company policy by publicly sharing a receipt on which the customer’s name was visible, thereby compromising her privacy (they added that the customer’s party did in fact pay the 18% gratuity required). Since then, the post has inspired almost 25,000 comments.

This crisis is not over.

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Taco Bell Pulls Ad After Maliciously Slandering Defenseless Vegetables

Taco Bell vegetable adNothing underscores the complexity of human reasoning more than the public’s desire to behave in self-destructive ways. From booze and cigarettes to fast food and assault rifles, we love things that do us harm.

There is no shortage of companies out there willing to sell the public the tools we need to reverse the very survival instincts that made us into social beings in the first place. So we understand how important it is for the positive influences in our lives to win the PR war for our very hearts, minds and cellular dependencies.

But you know what the human race also needs to survive this complex and challenging quest called life? A sense of humor. So we’re a bit conflicted over Taco Bell’s decision to pull an ad after receiving political pressure from The Center for Science in the Public Interest. What was Taco Bell’s horrible transgression? They compared bringing a veggie tray to a football party to “punting on fourth and one.” (See, that’s pretty funny. Extra credit to Taco Bell for running with the metaphor.)

Read more’s Rocky Relationship with the Public

We’ve all heard that there is no longer a stigma associated with online dating. Technology is increasingly bringing the human race together while also pulling us further apart, which means that each of us is closer than ever to people we’re never going to talk to–let alone date.

Still, the possibilities of online dating are almost limitless. We love that idea–and it draws thousands of paying customers to sites like Unfortunately, as we all know, the Internet is not reality. In fact, at its worst, the Internet involves the most despicable parts of reality masquerading as rainbows and unicorns.

So when a woman recently brought a lawsuit against for connecting her with a man who ended up stabbing her 10 times, we immediately saw that this story, in addition to being a tragedy, also illustrates a future PR conundrum: to what degree are dating sites responsible for the behavior of their clients?

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The TSA Will No Longer Get to See You Naked

TSA Rapiscan full-body scannersA good tip when it comes to PR strategy: Whatever the Transportation Security Administration is doing, do the opposite.

The organization may claim to do everything in the interest of keeping people safe, but the public generally detests the TSA for requiring us to take our shoes off and stand in front of the infamous full-body scanner in order to board a plane. The fact that said scanners produced all-but-naked images of travelers felt like an invasion of privacy to many Americans, and some politicians even set up their own PR stunts in order to protest being subjected to the whole process.

Well, last week we heard about what may be the TSA’s biggest recent PR win–though it certainly didn’t happen at the group’s request. In short, it looks like the era of “naked” full-body scans is coming to an end. We have a feeling the TSA’s PR agency of record breathed a sigh of relief upon learning that the organization, under pressure from a new law to develop scanners that produce less intimate images of travelers’ bodies, announced that its partner in scanning Rapiscan Systems would not be able to update the relevant software in time. The org even blogged about it!

Of course, this is by no means an end to the TSA’s ongoing PR problem.

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Weinstein, Toy Company Recall Django Unchained Slave Action Figures

"Django Unchained" action figures Here’s a controversy that isn’t quite as blatant and ridiculous as the one surrounding Anthropologie‘s super-racist candlestick but still serves as an interesting case study in badly planned promotional campaigns.

The National Entertainment Collectibles Assocation (NECA), a company that makes toy lines based on film properties, recently decided to pull a line of action figures based on Quentin Tarantino‘s current spaghetti western/slave revolt blockbuster Django Unchained. Why? Because most of the black characters are slaves–and some of the white ones are slave masters. This didn’t sit so well with some.

We haven’t seen the movie and we don’t want to get into the debate over the film’s very liberal use of “the n-word”, but we are a little baffled by the very concept of toy lines from a Tarantino film (though we wouldn’t mind having a little 7-inch version of Tim Roth’s Reservoir Dogs character on our desk).

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New NRA Ad Focuses on Obama Daughters

We don’t want to wade too far into the politics of the contentious gun control debate, but from a PR perspective we have to say: we really don’t get the NRA.

First, the organization’s spokesman blamed video games (many of which are directly supported by gun manufacturers) and movies for mass shootings and proposed armed guards at every American school right before releasing a video game for kids. Now, as President Obama prepares to unveil some proposals regarding tighter regulation of illegal gun sales, more intensive background check requirements, and a renewal of the “assault weapons” ban that will never pass the current Congress, the NRA chose to issue an ad that indirectly attacks the president’s two daughters.

The ad asserts that Obama is an “elitist hypocrite” because his daughters have armed Secret Service guards while he opposes the idea of placing a man with a gun in every primary, elementary, and high school in this country (different polls tell different stories about Americans’ opinions on that proposal, but most clearly support tougher gun laws). The president and every member of his family may receive more death threats than anyone else in the US (as do most presidents), but that can’t mitigate the fact that he thinks his kids are “more important than yours.”

Here’s the logic behind it:

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What Are America’s 10 ‘Most Hated’ Brands? And Why?

Lord VoldemortToday we came across a list of “America’s 10 Most Hated Companies” courtesy of Ragan’s PR Daily and 24/7 Wall Street, which compiled the worst of the worst based on “stock performance, employee and customer satisfaction, and management decisions.”

We were intrigued, so we figured we’d peruse the list and see what we could make of it. What are these brands, and what did they do to offend the American public (and their investors) so badly?

Here they are, along with our past and present theories on why they suck:

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NRA Chooses Worst Possible Time to Release ‘Target Practice’ App for Kids

Hunting, like public relations, is all about timing. So it’s utterly inconceivable that the NRA has decided that now, as the country is still bereaved, shocked and confused about a spate of unfathomable mass shootings from Colorado to Connecticut, is a good time to release its Target Practice app, which is tailored for gun enthusiasts ages four and up.

Yes, four and up.

The politics of the gun debate aside, we’re perplexed by this app release. The NRA has the resources to employ the best in the PR business, yet this decision is a good example of everything a brand shouldn’t do when navigating a deeply emotional moment for the public (and attempting to emerge with its reputation intact).

The release is poorly timed, insensitive and completely tone deaf to the ways millions of people in America and beyond feel about guns–especially guns and children. We’ve all become far too familiar with the violence, the wasteful loss of innocent life, and the image of individuals with assault rifles marching down the halls of an elementary school.

So what, possibly, could have led the NRA to make such an inexplicable decision? We can only guess that a discussion regarding the timing of this app release occurred in some conference room in some office building in some alternate reality. Perhaps the individuals in this meeting raised these very relevant PR questions:

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