Do you have to be a nice person to market a product sucessfully?

22 May 2007

Spider Man 3, easily one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, arrived in theatres three weeks ago. The movie blew away the competition by grossing $151,116,516 in one weekend. Tobey Maguire, who plays Spider Man, has cemented himself as a Hollywood superstar by playing the role in the previous two installments of the wildly popular series. With a big-budget production like Spider Man 3, it’s very important to mount a properly orchestrated public relations campaign or your movie could go the way of Waterworld. This includes the cast making the talk show rounds, doing scores of interviews with reporters at press junkets and generally making sure that the public is well aware and excited about the release of the film. A week before the film was released Tobey Maguire was videotaped knocking a fan’s camera out of his hand after getting upset about getting photographed. The video of Tobey losing his Spidy sense of humour was picked up by blogs and celebrity gossip sites around the world. Fans of the Maguire were split as to whether or not this was the ‘real’ Tobey. In a single moment, had all the goodwill that Tobey Maguire built up gone out the window? Judging by the opening weekend gross, it appears not. So, I’m confident to say that in world of celebrities, where everyone is going to rehab and getting charged with DUI, the public is more forgiving and doesn’t care if you are a ‘nice’ person. The only thing that truly matters is whether the special effects are zany and the film is entertaining. I’m off to pick up my Tobey Maguire figurine.  

Is there a such a thing as going too far?

07 May 2007

Presently, the media landscape is extremely crowded and getting through the noise of competitors requires your message to be delivered in a way that is creative, thoughtful, and original. Enter a classic rock radio station located in Ottawa, Canada called CHEZ 106 who just last week had one of their on-air personalities, called Eric “The Intern”, promote a local charity fundraiser. Now that does not seem all that exciting, I mean there are literally dozens of charity runs, walks, bingo nights in any given week all across Canada, so getting the message out about your particular event is a challenge. However what occurred during the already zany stunt has propelled the event to gain even more notoriety. CHEZ’s website describes what went down on Thursday…

“Eric the Intern-dramatic police takedown!!!

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Thursday morning, while bravely conducting a solitary run for CHEO through the gritty streets of Ottawa, Eric the Intern was surrounded by a posse of Ottawa police officers. Dressed in only a green hospital smock, he had apparently been mistaken for a disheveled, overweight escaped lunatic on the loose by terrified Ottawa residents. When they saw the frightening apparition run past their windows, they quickly pulled their blinds shut and called police. Officers quietly tracked his movements for many blocks, before a battalion of cruisers surrounded him and officers demanded answers as to just what in the name of $#@&* he was doing. It was only after CHEZ’s promo team intervened with a senior officer on his behalf, that Eric was let go with a stern warning. This must never happen again. At least not this week.”

Please take a look at the video of what happened.

Is there such a thing as going too far to promote an event?? The fact that CHEZ 106 is receiving so much attention for this wacky mishap begs this question. Time after time it seems the more obscene or crazy your stunt is, the more media coverage your client will receive. Look for me in the near future to pogo-stick around Ottawa without a shirt on and have H&K painted on my back in order to attract business.

PR lessons from NBC’s ‘The Office’

30 April 2007

Last week’s episode of NBC’s hit show ‘The Office’ called ‘Product Recall’ had a direct link to the world of public relations as Dunder-Mifflin, the fictional paper company where the show takes place, was in full crisis mode. The reason was a disgruntled employee at the paper mill put an obscene watermark on one of their most popular orders of paper. Michael, the boss, called the staff into a meeting and pointed the blame on a fellow employee, who was responsible for quality assurance at the paper mill and blew it off.

As the episode plays out, we learn valuable lessons in what NOT to do in a crisis situation. Michael decides to call a news conference in order to apologize to one of the clients affected by the lewd watermark. He decides to present the client with a novelty size gift certificate for free paper, however the client does not accept the gift or the apology and calls for Michael to resign as manager of Dunder-Mifflin. He then loses his patience and calls the client, “an ungrateful biatch” and then asks the one reporter who bothered to show up to the news conference if they were able to “get all that”.

The final public relations tactic Michael employs is direct to stakeholder communications as he records his own low-budget YouTube video in which he apologizes for the mistake and declares that not even a S.W.A.T. team would be able to get him to resign. This type of communication is becoming the latest way to cut the news media out of the mix. We saw this employed after Jet Blue passengers in the U.S. were left sitting on the tarmac for a whopping 12 hours before being able to get off the plane. The company came under fire and the company’s president David Neeleman made a video posted on YouTube and the Jet Blue website in which he got his message across without any media interference.



A Monkey Riding a Dog to Sell Tacos?!?!

25 April 2007

Never before has a commercial been so addictive. Sure, we all remember the great marketing strategies over the years – including Budweiser’s “Wassup” campaign or Reebok’s Terry Tate Office Linebacker commercials, but those efforts pale in comparison to the ad strategy for U.S. food chain Taco John’s. In the latest of a series of commercials, Taco John’s is using a monkey riding a dog to get across its message of delicious food available at a speedy pace. I dare you to watch it only once….you can’t. The ad leaves you wondering a number of things, including: 1) How did someone train a monkey to ride a dog? 2) What does the dog think of this? 3) Where can I get a delicious taco from Taco John’s?

Taco John’s website describes its marketing ploy by saying, “Our advertising campaign features the antics of ‘Whiplash, The Cowboy Monkey’ as he aids our heroic employees who are always eager to satisfy hungry customers with our delicious West-Mex food”

 And who thought the horse called originality had ridden off into the sunset?

It’s official…I blog

24 April 2007

It’s safe to say that two things were going to be inevitable in 2007…first, Subway Restaurants were bound to increase the price of their daily $2.99 value sub to $3.29 to reflect inflation and second, blogging would be included in my day-to-day activities. The first inevitability became a reality yesterday as I visited my local Subway, fully expecting to purchase a delicious six-inch club sandwich on fresh honey oat bread for the low every-Monday price of $2.99. However, I soon realized that the days of mowing down on a six-inch sub for $3.17, after taxes, were now just a memory…cue the slow motion montage of me with mayo on face with Boyz II Men’s 1991 hit ‘End of the Road’ playing in the background. Instead, I was left pondering why the good people at Subway increased the price of their daily special sandwich. Was Subway spokesperson extraordinaire Jared no longer accepting expired Sub Club stamps as payment in exchange for appearing in commercials? Did the price of processed cheese triangles just skyrocket? Although, one can never be too sure the answers to these hard-hitting questions, the more appropriate and most-likely right answer is simple inflation.

 The second and more important inevitability of 2007 is that blogging would be included in my day-to-day activities. For the past year I’ve been a casual observer of some entertainment news blogs, including The Superficial and Perez Hilton. I’m excited to share my thoughts on communications topics and I am happy to have finally ‘joined the conversation’