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Archives: January 2013

‘Super Bowl Media Day’ as PR Spectacular

PR challenge of the day: working for a professional sports league (the NFL) that still inspires thousands of fans to pay $25 to sit around and watch its biggest stars act dumb for the camera. Just kidding–”Super Bowl Media Day” is one big, we-know-you-love-us party.

As one player put it, “It’s like Mardi Gras without liquor and with cameras. It’s cool. It’s an exciting time for us”. And it might just be the slickest media relations gig around.

In short, journalists hang on millionaire athletes’ every word as they talk about how they’re the best at anything ever while representatives wonder what could possibly go wrong. Based on this guy’s outfit, we’d say nothing:

What does this event teach us about football players?

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Roll Call: MSLGROUP, M&C Saatchi PR New York, Arnold Worldwide, and More

MSLGROUP appointed Brad Wilks as managing director of its North America Midwest Operations, responsible for offices in Chicago and Detroit.  He most recently served as Managing Director and head of Sard Verbinnen & Co’s Chicago office. Wilks succeeds Joel Curran, who transferred to the role of Managing Director of MSL New York in September. Wilks will be responsible for all aspects of business strategy, performance, growth, client service and talent at both MSL Chicago and MSL Detroit. (Release)

M&C Saatchi PR New York announced to appointment of Richard Barker as vice president to oversee its sports and entertainment offering. Richard joins the New York team from M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment in London, where he spent three years managing sponsorship and PR activation for some of the leading properties, governing bodies and brands in sports. In his new role, he will direct the agency’s key sports and entertainment accounts, with a focus on developing the division. (Release)

Marty Laiks joined Arnold Worldwide, specifically ArnoldNYC, as EVP/group account director on the agency’s Sanofi business, helping lead integrated work for the pharma giant. Prior to this move, Laiks served as managing director, digital at DFCB NY. Laiks also spent six years at Grey/G2 USA, helping build the latter’s Health & Wellness unit before moving up to executive director, strategic planning before he and the agency parted ways back in 2010 (AgencySpy)

Jennifer Morgan was named president of Time Out North America. Morgan comes to Time Out from Collective Media, where she most recently served as COO and CMO. She had been with the company since 2009. At Time Out, Morgan succeeds Aksel Van Der Wal, who is currently Time Out’s CEO. (FishbowlNY)

The Ticker: BP Settlement; Super Bowl Ads; Apple Stores; A-Rod’s PR; BlackBerry Roll-Out

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.)

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Taco Bell Loves Fun., Old People and Español

When we hear the words “Taco” and “Bell” together, our thoughts don’t turn to retirement homes, native Spanish speakers or the one-hit wonder band Fun..

But America’s biggest rice, corn and beans chain brings the three together in what may be the most amusing way possible for its first Super Bowl commercial.

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When Will the NFL Fully Address Its Concussion Problem?

Indisputable fact: Americans love football. Pretty much every member of every key demographic watches the Super Bowl, even if we’re more concerned with the commercials. But anyone who’s even vaguely familiar with the sport also knows that American football has a big PR problem best summed up in three words: traumatic brain injury.

Is this an old story? Yes–but it’s not going away anytime soon, and eventually the NFL will have to address it to the satisfaction of the public.

The family of former star Junior Seau, who committed suicide in May 2012, filed a wrongful death suit against the league last week. The suit cites Seau’s post-mortem TBI diagnosis and blames the NFL for a perceived lack of oversight in warning players about the negative long-term effects of all those concussions (they’re also suing the company that makes players’ helmets). This is not an isolated case: over the past few years more than 3,800 former players have sued the league in more than 175 independent cases. Is the NFL really to blame for their injuries? We can’t say–but it’s a classic PR conundrum.

Perhaps most importantly, President Obama brought the story back to the nation’s attention right before the Big Game in a recent interview with the rebranded New Republic magazine, saying:

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Taylor Swift Is The New Face of Diet Coke

Yesterday Coca-Cola finally addressed its nemesis PepsiCo by laying its promotional cards on the table and declaring: “We’ll see your Beyoncé and raise you a Taylor Swift.”

Like the Beyoncé deal, Swift/Diet Coke will be a “long-term” relationship between everyone’s favorite low-calorie soda and everyone’s favorite musical memoirist that will integrate Swift “into all key marketing efforts” for Diet Coke’s Stay Extraordinary campaign. Her latest album title, Red, even complements the brand. It’s almost like she knew this would happen…

We think we get Coca-Cola’s strategy here: Swift, despite being one of the world’s biggest pop stars, has a reputation for being close to her (overwhelmingly female) fan base. The video she released announcing the partnership and encouraging supporters to visit Diet Coke’s Facebook page is a good example of this personal branding aesthetic in action:

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NRA Outreach Strategy Caters to Younger Audiences

We recently wondered about some of the NRA‘s throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks PR strategies, from the ad focusing on President Obama‘s daughters to the extremely misguided decision to release a video game for kids right after blaming video games for gun violence that resulted in the deaths of 20 young children.

This weekend brought a New York Times report on the organization’s ongoing efforts to promote “recreational shooting” to younger audiences via assorted PR initatives and partnerships. While most would assume that the Times and the NRA are not exactly best buds, this report was less a hit piece than a PR strategy review.

In short, the NRA needs to ensure the continued growth of its membership, and in order to do that the organization works to find ways to make gun culture more appealing to young people in the interest of “recruiting and retaining” teen hunters and target shooters. Makes sense, right? Here’s the challenge: “introducing minors to activities that involve products they cannot legally buy and that require a high level of maturity.”

We know how tough it can be to make products appealing when members of your target audience can’t legally own them…

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OpenTable Acquires Foodspotting, Encourages Users to Keep Playing With Their Dinner

Last week we told you that some fancy-pants New York City restaurants have begun pushing back against the “Instagramming your meal” trend by discouraging amateur photographers from breaking out their iPhones during dinner. Yet some within the food business have other ideas: Leading restaurant reservations app/site OpenTable just bet $10 million on user-generated content by acquiring Foodspotting, a startup designed to help users “find and [share] great dishes at restaurants.”

In case you haven’t seen Foodspotting, it’s a fairly inventive little app that allows users to search for, say, New York City’s best cheesecake (which isn’t at Junior’s, no matter how many people tell you otherwise) and displays other users’ shared photos of said cake. It’s a purely visual food community that’s about to get even bigger–and this means that the “playing with our food” debate won’t be over anytime soon, no matter what David Chang thinks.

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YouTube Introducing Paid Subscription Model

Are you ready to pay to watch “Gangnam Style” for the 41st time? Don’t worry, you won’t have to do that–but you might be looking at the future of paid video content promotion.

Today YouTube announced plans to follow Facebook in the endless quest for revenue by reaching out to “a small group of channel producers” and asking them to develop paid content channels that would cost users $1-$5 per month for access.

This isn’t a new idea: YouTube execs previously floated theoretical plans to acquire low-rated networks that can’t quite succeed on cable. Proposed content options for these channels include the usual “episodic” programs along with live streaming “pay-per-view”-style events and “self-help or financial advice shows”. Calling Suze Orman

This development could be both a massive spam disaster and a great opportunity for PR/marketing pros to push their clients. What better way to corner your target audience than by using a video channel that caters specifically to their niche demographic? (Football fans, sci-fi nerds, lovers of redneck reality shows…the list is could go on forever.)

PR pros: can you imagine clients starting YouTube pay channels or using them as key promo platforms?