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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King Jr’

Marketers on MLK Day: ‘I Have a…Really Bad Idea!’

MLK Twerk

Oh…hell to the no! 

With respect to Dr. King, “I have a dream…that someday marketers that do this repugnant #$%! will lose a job, the ability to operate photoshop and possibly conscience just for a week or two.” Just let that galling picture sink in. That’s “Freedom 2 Twerk” and Dr. Martin Luther King throwing up some inane thug sign promoting said event. And then there’s that bling.

The hell?! On what planet in some distant twerkiverse is this crap a good idea?

Martin Luther King fought the most valiant fight against racial oppression and for civil rights in the 1960s. No link is needed because if you don’t know about what this day means to so many people, then you need to get your narrow behind in a library today. (You know, if they were open.)

However, now that the war is won, battles continue to rage in a court of retail? Why, just why?

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Hennessy Pitch Promises ‘Mixed Drinks MLK Jr. Would Be Proud of’


There are certain historical figures one doesn’t reference lightly—even when discussing the national holidays that bear their names.

We’re talking, of course, about The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose day we’ll celebrate on Monday (certain current senators be damned). Despite the nuances of the life King lived, the present day will always be too soon to discuss him in a certain light, especially when using his name to promote a consumer product! Yet whoever writes copy for Hennessy cognac thought it proper to pitch the liquor with the subject line atop this post.

Think about it for a minute: how would the Rev. King “be proud of” a cocktail?

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(Most) Brands Avoid PR Fails on MLK ‘Dream Day’

In an honestly surprising turn of events, we’re glad to report that the vast majority of brands avoided any serious embarrassments related to yesterday’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

For the most part, they did it by staying vague. But we can learn from the exception in this case—and our friends in the blog world have collectively named this Golf Channel message the day’s worst:

This tweet is wrongheaded for several reasons, the most blatant being that golf has long been “a famously segregated sport“, especially during Martin Luther King Jr.‘s era. (Yes, Obama plays a lot, but these are different times.) Still, that’s not the biggest problem.

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Martin Luther King Jr. and the Art of Improvisation

There are quite a few good pieces floating around the Internets today about the power of speechifying: more specifically, Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered 50 years ago and generally recognized as the greatest oratorical feat of the 20th century. But from a PR perspective, we’re most interested in this New York Times op-ed, which reveals that some of the best-known portions of the speech itself were improvised.

King apparently wrote multiple drafts, argued with advisers over which portions to include, and felt that he didn’t have time to use the words “I have a dream”. In the heat of the moment he was, according to the article, inspired by singer Mahalia Jackson‘s suggestion that he return to the phrase he’d used in previous speeches. And history was made.

Of course PR pros regularly write or at least edit speeches for clients, and in most cases “off the cuff” comments or ad libs are strongly discouraged lest the message get muddled. But at certain times, don’t we all want our clients to give performances that truly inspire people? We always work to balance transparency and authenticity with consistency, but how often can we encourage clients to go with their guts and speak from the heart?

Merrill Lynch Settles Largest Racial Discrimination Suit in History

Could there be a less fortunate day on which to announce the settlement of the largest racial discrimination suit ever filed against an American employer?

That’s a no. The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington brings news (technically released last night) that big boy Wall Street brokerage firm Merrill Lynch finally settled the class action suit filed by more than 700 black brokers approximately eight years ago. The total of $160 million, to be divided among affected individuals who’ve worked with the company since 2001, stands as a confirmation of allegations that managers ignored the concerned parties, who were “ostracized by co-workers” and essentially forced into “poor producer” status.

Lynch’s first black CEO, E. Stanley O’Neal, even admitted that black employees rarely got the best work. Why? Because most clients were white and “might not trust” brokers who weren’t.

Wow. That’s what we call “a cultural issue”, not to mention a massive PR problem.

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Individuals, corporations and the media are all honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. Here are some of the initiatives and events taking place:

Federal agency The Corporation for National and Community Service put out a release highlighting dozens of community service efforts happening nationwide today.

TV One will air ‘Living The Dream: An Interview With President Barack Obama,’ at 8 p.m. ET tonight.

TVNewser reports MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews will moderate a live MSNBC special titled “Obama’s America: 2010 and Beyond” today from Texas Southern University.

A number of other organizations have announced community service events.

Lastly, Google added the above image to their homepage today.