Posts Tagged ‘brand’

BBC suspends Brand and Ross over ‘answerphone-gate’

October 29, 2008

Whoever said today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper did not anticipate the maturation of the UK’s Health and Safety regulations.  They also did not anticipate the power of the media when it comes to whipping up a storm. 

Immediately following the broadcast of Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross obscene phone messages to Fawlty Towers’ Manuel, only two people complained about the content.  Fast forward ten days and by 9.30 this morning, that figure had risen to more than 18,000. And the duo are suspended pending an investigation.

I, probably like the majority of those who complained about the broadcast, have not actually heard the offending piece. But I imagine it to be quite offensive.  The Russell Brand show often is.

So why the furore now?  

Because it has all the ingredients to make a very tasty story indeed.  Russell ‘living the Brand’? Check.  Ageing British TV icon?  Check.  Pics of a saucy young vixen? Check.  BBC wasting licence fee payer’s money?  …you get the picture. And once a story like this makes it onto the news agenda we the public, reporters, PRs and commentators alike all swarm like flies around the news squeezing it for all it’s worth. 

Not that it acts as any kind of salve for Manuel, but looks like his grand daughter (who probably did have relations with that man, by all accounts) will benefit from this – in a Madonna/Magdalen way of course – chiding the offenders for their lewdness at the same time as promoting her career in erotic dance.

Top PR blunders of all time

October 24, 2008

Kerry Katona
Kerry Katona



Watching the good ship Kerry hit a PR iceberg and sink on This Morning earlier this week, made me nostalgic for the greatest PR blunders of the past. Here are some old classics:


Brand/Company: FEMA

Failure level: Mild

Feeling battered after a spate of natural disasters and spending criticism in the US, FEMA thought they would take an easy route and position their employees as journalists in a press conference. The soft questions posed allowed spokesman Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson to comment favourably on FEMA’s work. The press saw straight through it and an even worse backlash followed.


Brand/Company: Hoover

Failure level: Major

In the 90s Hoover ran a promotion where anyone who spent more than £100 on a Hoover product received a free flight to America. The offer was massively popular, as this was before the age of budget carriers. But Hoover did not anticipate the level of demand and tried to hide behind technicalities to avoid giving customers their flights. Legal action from customers followed.

Brand/Company: Dasani

Failure level: Epic

Things weren’t going well for Dasani (Coca-Cola’s still water brand) when it was revealed that their water was simply taken from the Thames mains supply in Sidcup, Kent, echoing a famous plotline from Only Fools and Horses. But the laughter became anger when it was revealed that the water was contaminated with illegally high levels of bromate – a chemical linked to cancer – killing the brand stone dead.

Which is better: PR or Advertising?

June 20, 2008

So when do you need advertising and when do you need PR? Or do you need both?


Well, each has PROs and cons (sorry bad pun)…


Advertising offers a far greater level of message control than PR. That is, with advertising your product or service can have exactly the spin you want it to have. Once a PR news story leaves the office and enters the real world, the message can be changed and interpreted. Often publications don’t even see the story as newsworthy and refuse to cover it. In advertising, if you’ve paid for it, you get the exposure.


But then there is the matter of shelf-life. PR releases tend to smoulder longer than an advert released on television. Search engines can locate an archived press release long after the initial PR buzz has waned.


But, the big bonus of a PR message is that it carries implied endorsement from the publication it’s printed in (and the reader may have a very high level of trust for that publication). Conversely, even the best advertising is recognised as self-serving communication. PR also happens to be substantially cheaper.


PR has also come into its own with the arrival of web 2.0 services, blogs and forums. Third-party endorsement, blogger recommendations and entering into a conversation with consumers has never been more important. Imagine how urgent it is for a PR consultant to stop a disgruntled customer talking about their horrible experience with your client on a forum read by 50,000 people…


The rule for the moment seems to be: if you have a large company and enough money to blast your ad through the constant din of media messaging with a huge campaign, go for it. But you should have PR too.


For small or medium-sized companies, or anyone working in the digital space, PR is the way forward.


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