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Archives: November 2012

Roll Call: Edelman, Metia, Robin Leedy & Associates, and More

Edelman announced the appointment of Jennifer Cohan as chair of the global consumer practice, effective January 2, 2013. Cohan will be based in New York and report to Alan VanderMolen, vice chairman, DJE Holdings and president & CEO, Global Practices. Cohan, currently managing director at GolinHarris International, Inc. in New York, has over twenty years of global experience in consumer marketing public relations. She currently oversees GolinHarris New York’s strategic direction and operations, working across multiple sectors of the business, and serves as an active senior counselor to several clients, including Unilever, OraSure and Olympus. (Release)

Seattle-based digital marketing agency Metia announced the appointment of Andrew Martin as president and the promotion of J. Paul Anderson to the position of regional vice president. As president, Martin will focus on managing higher-level organizational strategy and expansion projects. Anderson, a seasoned digital marketing agency professional with more than 17 years of experience in the industry, will report to Martin as he oversees operations in the Seattle office. (Release)

Robin Leedy & Associates will open an office in Manhattan this December. The new office, at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, will supplement the organization’s Mount Kisco, New York office (which will remain its headquarters). The firm’s new managing director, Tara McNally–formerly of Edelman, Chicago–will head up the RL&A Manhattan office. Tara will oversee account teams and staff development, client services and brand campaigns, reporting to EVP/Partner Alyson O’Mahoney. (Release)

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Ask NASA About the End of the World This Afternoon

2012Even if you do happen to be one of those fortunate few who live under a large rock, we have no doubt that you’ve still heard some of the eschatological nonsense about The Mayans and December 21, 2012, aka “122112″: the cosmic forces of good and evil will throw down, the brown dwarf planet Nibiru will destroy the Earth, Menudo will get back together, etc.

It’s all funny in a sad sort of way–and we have no doubt that it’s already inspired a few low-budget Discovery Channel documentaries. But the highfalutin “scientists” at NASA take all things related to The End of the World very seriously–and they want you all to know that it will be OK.

(Of course they would say that…)

Anyway, NASA clearly believes that it has a responsibility to inform the impressionable public and avoid the risk of wide-scale Doomsday freakouts, so two weeks ago the organization launched a modest PR campaign designed to debunk all the sourceless rumors and keep the holiday shopping season moving along as planned in accordance with the wishes of our faceless corporate overlords.

Cash-strapped NASA doesn’t have the time or money to produce anything like a fancy TV ad (we kid, we kid), but the sci-fi nerds who obviously run the organization did find the time to create a couple of web pages addressing the most frequently asked 2012 questions and allowing a supposed “astrobiologist” to write a bunch of TL;DR answers on the very same topics.

That’s not all, though: things are about to get real at 2 PM today.

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The Ticker: Apple Fires Manager; Internet Regulation Debate; TV Star Speaks; Audi; iPhone 5 Trumps

Andrew W.K. Will Not Be a ‘Cultural Ambassador’ to the Middle East

Andrew W.K. We have disappointing news for all readers who love to “Party ‘Til [They] Puke” (and who doesn’t?): Contrary to earlier reports, famed downtown New York rock star, nightclub owner and hype-man Andrew W.K. will NOT serve as the USA’s “cultural ambassador” promoting “partying and positive power” in the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain.

Bahrain, like Syria, is a troubled monarchy that has yet to overcome the events of the Arab Spring nearly two years ago–but its residents apparently do like to “Party Hard”. We’ll let (the very irritated) State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland explain the confusion:

“We had a Bahraini entity that approached the embassy about co-sponsoring a visit by this guy who I take it is pretty popular there in Bahrain. That was initially approved, and then when more senior management at the embassy took a look at this, the conclusion was that this was not an appropriate use of U.S. government funds.”

The department supposedly came to this conclusion “when they looked at the body of his work”. Would that be work like this classic 2001 hit by the composer of such gems as “We Want Fun” and “Make Sex?”

OK, so this is a fun story, but it does raise a few Important Questions:

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Cadbury Introduces Chocolate That Doesn’t Melt

First we invented the wheel. Then we developed a cure for polio. And now we’ve created a chocolate that doesn’t melt.

That’s right: Cadbury UK–which is owned by the American juggernaut Kraft–has announced the invention of “temperature tolerant chocolate” which can survive temperatures of up to 104 degrees for hours. Make no mistake: this is a big deal.

Just think about the role chocolate has played in your own life, then think about the role chocolate has played in the history of the human race. The public has obviously always loved chocolate: From GIs in World War II handing chocolate bars to dusty children in war-ravaged landscapes to Willy Wonka’s implacable influence on American film, chocolate always represented those things that are good in life.

And now, thanks to a scientific breakthrough that allows mere humans to break sugar particles down into even smaller particles in order to decrease their meltable fat levels, chocolate is now more resilient than ever. This innovation practically fixes the only thing that’s ever been wrong with chocolate (other than its effects on one’s teeth or body when consumed in unwise amounts).

But how will the public react? We hate change almost as much as we love chocolate, so we’ll probably greet the evolution of our favorite sweet treat with a healthy degree of scrutiny. Chocolate is about innocence and deliciousness and holidays–when did you people have to drag science into it? (This maxim applies to all foods, of course, but we like to think chocolate is different.)

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The Empire State Building Shows Off Its New Colors

Via our sister site FishbowlNY, watch Clear Channel add a little character to the New York skyline by turning the Empire State Building into a kaleidoscopic disco ball thingy via 1200 remotely programmed LEDs for its first-ever light show.

While this event didn’t promise to reveal the winner of a major election, it did come complete with performances by Alicia Keys and various local radio personalities. As acrophobics we hope they didn’t play on the observation deck, cause that would’ve been kinda scary.

Man Sues Airlines for Obese Wife’s Death

KLM AirlinesIn a tale of tragedy and PR disaster that almost certainly could have been avoided, a grieving Bronx husband just announced plans to sue Delta, KLM and Lufthansa airlines for millions.

Earlier this year, the three carriers each claimed to be unable to provide seating to his wife Vilma, who died in Europe while awaiting a return flight to New York. The couple planned to go home to the States after a European vacation so Vilma could resume treatment for diabetes and kidney disease; she weighed approximately 425 pounds at the time of her death.

The couple flew to their native Hungary via Delta and KLM “without incident” in September after Vilma apparently boarded two planes “with the help of an airlift…and a seatbelt extender”. Husband Janos now claims that airline reps in Europe “asked about return flights so [they] could make proper arrangements” and that he purchased two separate seats on the way back to accommodate his wife.

And yet, the couple’s lawyer says that the very same KLM Airlines forced the pair to de-plane in Budapest “due to an issue with a seat back” and urged them to drive to Prague, where a second pilot ordered Vilma from his plane after “they put her on the seat and they couldn’t belt her in”. The two then drove to Frankfurt only to be denied service by Lufthansa reps, who voiced concerns over passenger safety when Vilma “didn’t fit in a three-seat gap”; she died of kidney failure in Hungary two days later.

A Delta rep told ABC News that the airline simply couldn’t seat Vilma “Despite a determined good-faith effort”; the husband’s attorney claims that his client “wants to know why his wife had to die because the airlines simply didn’t want to be inconvenienced.”

We’re not sure the story is so simple.

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Is PRWeb Just Spamming the Whole Internet Now?

Spam adYesterday we ran a cautionary tale about how some shady stock trader fooled almost everyone on the Internet (and made a bunch of easy money) by penning a PRWeb release about a non-existent Google acquisition and manipulating stock prices for a couple of hours. In asking the Big Questions, we wondered whether readers place too much faith in digital press releases and how much we should blame PRWeb itself for the mixup.

Last night, the SearchEngineLand blog followed up, exploring the issue with relish in a post titled “How PRWeb Helps Distribute Crap Into Google & News Sites”. Fun!

We’re not out to besmirch the Vocus/PRWeb brand: We’ve used it, and we’re fairly sure the vast majority of our readers have too. But blogger Danny Sullivan wonders whether PRWeb truly has the power to review all press releases and ensure their “integrity”, and we share his skeptical curiosity.

Of course, distribution is the service’s key selling point—for a one-time fee, reps can ensure that their releases will appear on a wide range of sites both mainstream and obscure/legally dubious. We’ll say this, though: The fact that official “press releases” hyping “Lowest Price Viagra” from “LICENSED and LEGAL European online pharmacy” moved through PRWeb’s filter intact and ended up on the websites of otherwise respectable “distributor” publications like The Houston Chronicle may tell you something about the intensity of the organization’s fact-checking process.

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PR Challenge: Stars Who Trash Their Own Projects

Angus T. Jones of Two and a Half MenWe were more than a little amused yesterday to read news of one Angus T. Jones, an actor better known as “that kid on Two and a Half Men”, pulling what looked like an outright effort to sabotage his own show.

Jones appeared in a bizarre YouTube video that just happens to double as a promo spot for The Forerunner Chronicles, a multi-media project pushing the “end times” Seventh-day Adventist movement. He makes his new-found allegiance to God quite clear in the pseudo-interview while bemoaning his current gig, telling viewers to “please stop watching Two and a Half Men” and “filling your head with filth” and encouraging the public to “do some research on the effects of television and your brain” because “it’s bad news.”

This little incident provided the Internet with more awkward chuckles than a Charlie Sheen rant while creating a huge headache for anyone who makes money producing, promoting or performing on what remains one of TV’s top-rated sitcoms (and that’s quite a few people). Based on follow-up reports, it seems like the only folks happy with Jones’s online outburst are his friends at Forerunner Chronicles and the Valley Crossroads Seventh-day Adventist Church–because everyone loves free PR from a semi-famous “soldier of truth.”*

Anyway, we had to ask: why would a massively successful actor pull a stunt like this? And how can the show’s PR team contain the damage done?

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‘SodaStream’ Ad Pulled in UK (For Being Effective?)

If you’ve been watching TV in the US over the past several days, you may have seen this new ad for SodaStream, a device that allows bubble-lovers to create their own soft drinks at home, thereby saving both money and bottles.

Personally, we found the 30-second spot created by Alex Bogusky clever and visually appealing. Authorities in the UK pulled the commercial, however, citing their own opinion that it “could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, [and] instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream”. This message, they determined, could be seen as “denigration of the bottled-drinks market”. Um…gee, a commercial that encourages customers to ditch the competition in favor of the product it’s pushing? Witchcraft!

OK…so what’s the problem?

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