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Posts Tagged ‘election 2012’

Pizza Hut’s Cheesy ‘Lifetime Supply’ PR Stunt

This week’s political polls show us that the presidential race is heating up. Last week’s first debate pitted a spirited Mitt Romney against a feckless Barack Obama–and it changed the trajectory of the election by facilitating a virtual tie between the two candidates as we enter the final weeks of campaigning.

Our nation remains mired in two unpopular wars and a devastating, prolonged economic recession. And then there is the rest of world, which is increasingly either jobless or on fire. Americans are taking this election seriously, as they should. Pizza Hut, however, is not.

As PR experts we’re concerned about Pizza Hut’s latest publicity stunt, which offers a lifetime of free pizza to any attendee at the town hall debate—to be held at Hofstra University—who asks if the candidates prefer pepperoni or sausage on their pie. If you have a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan, or an unemployed family member, or if you just happen to care about fellow citizens that you don’t even know for some reason, the humor of this ill-conceived idea may be lost on you. Read more

Inevitable Big Bird Campaign Ad Hits (UPDATED)

Today in Why Did This Take So Long News: The Obama campaign has decided to capitalize on Mitt Romney’s much-discussed Big Bird debate comment in a video ad, and we have to say it’s pretty good!

The ad lists a few notorious financial criminals (Ken Lay, Bernie Madoff, etc.) and implies that Mitt Romney’s adversity to financial regulation would reward the bigwigs who brought our economy down while punishing innocents like everyone’s favorite fluffy yellow…thing.

We don’t really want to get into a debate about whether Obama himself has gone far enough to rein in financial abuses, but it is nice to know that political hacks can make a decent joke from time to time.

UPDATE: Sesame Workshop just released an official response to the ad, noting that it is a non-profit, non-partisan entity and requesting that the Obama campaign stop airing the ad. Score one for consistency!

Calm Down, Everybody: Big Bird Will Be Fine

We’ll just go ahead and say it: last night’s debate was a big bore. Mitt Romney did quite well, Jim Lehrer did quite poorly, and a few million people became aware of the current President’s sleepwalking problem for the first time. (It is worth noting that, way back in June, Chuck Todd predicted that Obama would probably not win this first debate because “no one has cut his remarks short during his term in office”.)

The night’s most contentious moment, however, clearly concerned none other than Big Bird. When listing public entities that he would stop funding if elected, Romney took a moment to pick on perennial bogeyman PBS, telling Public Broadcasting employee Lehrer that he would have to cut funding for the channel despite the fact that “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too.”

The Internet quickly made it a meme, and a predictable number of mildly amusing tweets ensued. So yeah, it was a weird line—but it wasn’t quite accurate. (In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a common problem in presidential debates.)

Unfortunately, we have to ruin everyone’s fun by calling an official end to this non-scandal. Take it away, Sherrie Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sesame Workshop–give CNN’s Soledad O’Brien some of that sweet, sweet damage control!

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What’s a Presidential Debate Worth, Anyway?

You’re probably aware that the first debate of the 2012 Presidential election takes place tonight. We know, we know–you can’t wait to hear more about this incredibly exciting race, right?

Well, we’re going to ask the question anyway: What’s the real PR value of a debate? We can’t imagine that too many voters would honestly describe themselves as “undecided” at this point, but an estimated 50 million people will watch the events live—and an audience that big has to be worth something, right?

Maybe not. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently predicted that the debates would be a “game changer” for challenger Mitt Romney, but the general consensus holds that the overall influence of these events (which are heavily scripted, despite what they all tell us) is negligible.

Candidates love to play along. In fact, the most irritating element of the debate build-up is the lowered expectations game in which each candidate tries to convince the news media and the public that his or her (okay, his) opponent is a master debater who may well triumph—although it won’t matter in the end.

This is why President Obama recently rated his own debate skills as “okay” while veep nominee Paul Ryan called him “a very gifted speaker” and an “experienced debater”. Obama’s spokesman David Plouffe followed by saying that Mitt Romney has “…prepared more than any candidate in history. And he has shown himself to be a very, very good debater through the years.”

Geez, we get it—you can all be very annoying!

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#CantAfford4More: Are Promoted Tweets a Waste of Money?

Promoted tweets are worth about…this much.

Shock of the day: Twitter is a complex tool, and its mastery requires a bit of…nuance.

We recently reported on the company’s promoted hashtag service and its tendency to produce unpredictable results: When the Republican Party purchased the #areyoubetteroff tag to promote their National Convention back in September, the response got a little out of control—and supporters of President Obama ended up hijacking the thread. At one point, the “yes/no” response ratio was an embarrassing 5 to 1.

We have no doubt that any message promoted by the Obama team would have received plenty of mockery as well. The lesson we took from that debacle is that no campaign—and no company—can truly control the conversation on social media. Twitter is a bit of a crap shoot at the end of the day, and throwing a bone to a pack of howling wolves may not be a terribly effective messaging strategy.

But the Romney campaign didn’t agree, and they’ve made another attempt to drive the conversation ahead of tonight’s first debate by purchasing the #CantAfford4More hashtag for 24 hours–everyone who signs in to Twitter will see the tag in a tweet promoted by the candidate’s official feed. We assume that Romney will use the phrase during his monologue and encourage others to co-opt it. At the very least, this will get everyone talking, right?

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A Bunch of Celebrities Want You to Vote (Again)

Wow, is it really time to vote again? (Just kidding, we’ve already voted in two primaries this year.)

But what is it with celebrities and voting? Seems like every two or four years we get a new lineup of familiar faces trying to convince us that participating in representative democracy is cool or something.

This year, a few big names showed up to rep a group that couldn’t come up with a better name than “Vote 4 Stuff”: the lineup includes Selena Gomez (whose boyfriend can’t vote because he’s Canadian), Leonardo DiCaprio (who really cares about the Earth), Jonah Hill (who may be trying just a little too hard here) and Tobey Macguire (who was easily the best Spider-Man, sorry Andrew Garfield):

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Can Halloween Mask Sales Predict the Next President?

It would appear that imitation is indeed the greatest form of flattery, especially when it comes to Halloween costume sales in an election year.

According to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, sales of Halloween masks often mirror the popularity candidates enjoy with the public and hint at the ultimate winner of presidential elections. Spirit Halloween, one of the largest costume retailers in the U.S., says that the Obama mask is leading with 64% of the retailer’s nationwide mask sales.

Spirit Halloween’s “Presidential Index” based on mask sales has accurately predicted election winners since way back in the glory days of 1996. Nothing about this survey is scientific, of course, but PR experts know that our business has as much to do with timing and circumstance as psychology and hard science.

PR professionals are trained to extrapolate meaning and patterns from even the quirkiest of correlations and relationships. This type of data is our Mars Rover, and seeing human behavior in a new and revealing way for the first time is our ancient Martian streambed. In other words, this is PR geek stuff. Read more

Romney’s Paul Ryan Pick: A PR Win?

And then there were twoWe generally prefer to avoid dipping our toes too deeply into the political arena, but we think we can judge Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate to be a PR win–for the moment, at least. Why? It serves as an irresistible dog whistle to those who make their livings polling and pontificating about politics, and the presumptive Republican nominee’s recent PR stumbles have now been obliterated by a wave of news and opinions about his new, “edgy” veep pick.

Judging by a big surge in related activity throughout the Twitter-verse (ugh), Romney won the weekend by announcing what struck many as a bold choice while making the pundit class look a little silly in the process. Let the “pros and cons” pile-on begin!

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Roseanne Barr for President: She’ll ‘Outlaw Bullsh*t’

Only in AmericaRoseanne Barr, an actress, writer, producer and patriot famous for her comedic prowess and her long-running self-titled sitcom, does not consider the current state of American politics to be a laughing matter. So, true to form for the bold and outspoken comedian, she has vowed to do something about it. According to the Daily Beast, Barr feels that the American public has been “bamboozled and hoodwinked” by a government “owned by bankers.” Her proposed solution? “Vote for me. I’m not a liar. I’m not a thief. I’m not a whore, and I’m not a politician. I think that uniquely qualifies me to become president of the U.S.” Zing! Plus, she’s not afraid to be roasted, which is probably an asset to anyone willing to undergo the scrutiny afforded presidential candidates in this country.

Lest you think that this is all a publicity stunt, Barr has stated that she is “dead serious,” and is now the presidential nominee for the Peace and Freedom Party, which bills itself as “an open, multi-tendency, movement-oriented socialist party…united in our common commitment to socialism, democracy, feminism and unionism and our common opposition to capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism and elitism.”

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