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Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

First Lance Armstrong ‘False Advertising’ Suit Filed (by a PR Exec!)

We just couldn’t resist: today marks the filing of the first post-Oprah lawsuit against admitted liar and generally detestable person Lance Armstrong.

The issue at hand isn’t the fact that Lance cheated, ruined honest people with fake libel charges, or promoted a bunch of big brands after winning while on dope. No, it’s all about his books, see?

The two plaintiffs in the class-action complaint say that they bought Lance’s inspirational memoirs because they believed his story about a triumphant, dope-and-cancer-free return to the Tour de France. Upon discovering that the story was not exactly true, they felt “duped, cheated and betrayed” and decided to take his sorry ass to court for fraud. The suit accuses Lance and his publishers, Penguin and Random House, of committing acts of “false advertising” by selling the books as works of non-fiction.

Excuse us while we enjoy a guilt-free laugh.

The most interesting part of this story (to us) is the fact that one of the men filing the suit is “Rob Stutzman, a public relations executive who served as a deputy chief of staff for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger“. He would certainly know a good bit about famous liars, wouldn’t he?

So will this suit go nowhere like the one against Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson, who fabricated portions of his books? Or will it lead to a settlement like the case filed against admitted fabulist James Frey? And what do we think about the fact that a veteran PR professional started it?

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PR Fail: Oprah Interview Hurt Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong We know, we know: you’re sick of hearing about Lance Armstrong. Trust us, we are too. Still, we thought we’d take a minute to report the results of the latest polls, because they reveal a couple of interesting things that happen to give us a bit of pleasure via schadenfreude:

First, people were actually growing more sympathetic toward Lance before Oprah indulged him:

  • Last October, 49% of Americans thought he should have to forfeit all his Tour de France medals.
  • That number had dropped to 37% a couple of weeks ago.
In other words, he was doing alright because, despite the fact that many people had begun to realize that he is a lying douche, some still wanted him to win in the end. But now? Not so much.*

Lance Armstrong: What Price Reputation?

Readers: today we’re excited to feature an exclusive op-ed by Gerard F. Corbett, chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Corbett, who is accredited in Public Relations (APR) and is a member of the PRSA College of Fellows, has been a member of PRSA for more than 35 years. He also serves as CEO of Redphlag LLC–a strategic public relations, marketing management and executive coaching consulting firm that he founded–and chief marketing officer of Producers Forum, Inc., a real estate Web startup.

Like many folks, I wondered if the world really needed another opinion piece about Lance Armstrong and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)’s allegations against him.

In case you’ve just returned from six months manning the International Space Station or conducting research in the Amazon River basin, the USADA released a report on Oct. 10, which cited witness testimony, financial records and laboratory results to support its accusation that Armstrong had participated in a complex, systematic doping program and used other illegal methods to gain competitive advantages in the international sport of competitive cycling.

The seven-time Tour de France winner has faced doping allegations throughout his career, but he’s managed to dodge those accusations by pointing out that he’d been tested for banned substances hundreds of times in the past, without ever producing a positive result. Of course, it didn’t hurt that a two-year U.S. Government investigation that examined Armstrong’s role in possible doping-related crimes was closed earlier this year, with no charges brought.

Perhaps by virtue of his adamant denials, cancer-surviving story and charitable work with the Livestrong Foundation, Armstrong always found a way to push aside the accusations and preserve his credibility (and sponsorship dollars). Then, metaphorically speaking, the wheels came off.

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Lance Armstrong Doping Gambit: Blame Big Tobacco

Bonked. Cooked. Whatever bike racing term you use, it now applies to the reputation of Lance Armstrong and, more sadly, to the reputation of his 15-year-old cancer advocacy organization, The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF, or Livestrong).

Today the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a statement and a collection of documents detailing the extent of its conspiracy investigation against Armstrong, the entirety of which is to be sent to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the governing body that oversees the Tour de France.

That’s not to say Armstrong isn’t attempting to fight back: Just this morning, USA Today reported that lawyer Tim Herman sent a letter to the USADA as an obvious “see what sticks” damage control tactic, writing: “This reasoned decision will be a farce, written by USADA with the significant assistance of lawyers from one of Big Tobacco’s favorite law firms at a time when Lance Armstrong is one of America’s leading anti-tobacco advocates. While USADA can put lipstick on a pig, it still remains a pig.”

That’s a bit of a wild conspiracy theory there, no?

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End of an Era: Lance Armstrong ‘Won’t Fight’ Dope Charges

For once, we didn’t see this coming: In case you haven’t heard, cyclist, cancer survivor and one-man-brand Lance Armstrong has announced that he will ‘stop fighting’ the cheating charges leveled against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. This means that Armstrong may well be officially stripped of his record-setting seven Tour de France titles. Yes, it’s a bit of a shocker.

How to respond? From a PR perspective, it seems as if Armstrong has chosen the best available option: By refusing to endure the “arbitration process,” he can continue to claim–as he always has–that the longstanding doping charges leveled against him amount to a “witchhunt” and highlight the fact that he never tested positive on any official drug test (though any commentors who use this fact as evidence of his innocence should remember that Marion Jones and many other disgraced athletes never tested positive while competing). Unfortunately, his decision all but ensures that supporters will never have a satisfactory answer to the question: If he is truly innocent, why not endure the process to the end and prove it once and for all?

Armstrong may have avoided suffering a fate like that of Jones, Floyd Landis and Barry Bonds, but the fact remains: No matter how many fans post supportive messages on his Facebook page, his brand is forever tarnished–and it’s a big one. Read more

U.S. Restaurants Say ‘Vive la Révolution!’

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

It could be connected to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, or the surprise success of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Or maybe it’s just that the French keep insisting their food and wine choices keep them skinny. The reasons why are vague, but U.S. restaurants are convinced diners are hot for everything France, and to prove it they’re celebrating Bastille Day — today — with a flurry of promotions.

“It is kind of funny that we didn’t do a promotion for July 4, but here we are doing it for Bastille Day,” said Brandi Babb, VP for training and franchise relations at pizza chain Zpizza, in Nation’s Restaurant News.

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