Seeing Red

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That’s some tempest in a teapot…er, Starbucks cup…brewing through the newsphere today. Before you could say “Is it Christmas yet?” the entire holiday blew up for the good, simple folks based in Seattle. Did they really think they could go minimalist this season?

All it took was one irate, self-described social media personality to upload a clever, gotcha You Tube video, and Donald Trump weighing in at a pit stop in Illinois to completely upend their Christmas packaging and put them on the defensive. “Maybe we should boycott them,” he said, even though he claims to have “one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower.”

Can you imagine how many meetings were held and how much money was spent for the company to go all PC on us? “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s a more open way to usher in the holiday,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content. In a statement the coffee giant said the red cup allows for customers to put their own drawings and messages on it.

Really? How’s this message: “Nice try, Starbucks! Can’t wait to see what happens next year!”

 

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Filed under Branding, PR Problem

Volkswagen, Why?

For the past six+ years, I have driven a Volkswagen.

First, the Eos, a fabulous hardtop convertible with a beautiful design and a powerful engine. It broke my heart to exchange it for a bigger car, the Toureg, which ended up being too big for me, and then I switched to the smaller but very reliable Tighuan.

My husband drives a VW Passat. Obviously, we were drawn both to the styling and drivability of the brand, not to mention the automaker’s value pricing and easy-breezy service department.

I probably could have been a customer for a long, long time. But now, with today’s news that the EPA says Volkswagen cheated a second time on pollution tests, I feel polluted myself. Will the brand recover?

I’m not sure, but one thing I know: it’s time to pull out the stops for your loyal supporters. We are your most likely future customers. We are already family. We are already believers. But there’s only so long we’ll stick around.

VW Tighuan

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Conscious Wordsmithing

Boy, have you ever seen a logically considered, earnest public statement blow up so ferociously in a celebrity’s face?

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin could have issued a very straight forward press release announcing their decision to divorce. You know what it sounds like, something along the lines of:

“We are announcing after ten years together we have decided to separate and divorce. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain caring friends with great love and admiration for each other, and of course, our children remain our primary focus. We respect that you allow us our privacy at this time.”

Nothing to laugh about there. The statement gets right to the point. That’s the way it should be.

But I guess when you name your children Apple and Moses, and your lifestyle blog is called Goop, “conscious wordsmithing” is your trademark.

Thus, the press and the rest of the blathering word is having a field day with the Paltrow-Martin marriage dissolution explanation, which goes like this:

“It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. While we love each other very much, we will remain separate (and) consciously uncouple.”

Go ahead, google those last two words. You’ll find an avalanche of commentary, much of it spoofing the message. A married friend on Facebook attached an article from the LA Times, with her comment, “As opposed to ‘unconscious coupling,’ which is how a lot of people end up in the state of marriage. Not speaking first-hand, of course … I was in a semi-alert state.”

At any rate, the moral of the story is: by all means, do consciously wordsmith your message…but don’t overthink it. Get to the point, and keep on the straight and narrow so you don’t land up in a big bowl of goop.

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Filed under PR School, Uncategorized

From Hero to Zero

Full Disclosure: I was born and raised a Jersey girl. I haven’t lived in the state since Bill Cahill held the top spot. But until yesterday, I was enamored with Gov. Chris Christie. Not so much anymore.

The big PR question: can he repair the damage?

Professor PR would give the governor an “A” for his television performance, though it was twice as long as it needed to be. He took responsibility and was contrite. I had no problem with him saying he felt sad rather than angry, although we all know he has to be plenty angry. It goes without saying I’d love to be a fly on his wall.

What I like about Gov. Christie is his Jersey “every man” appearance and demeanor. He’s not super slick and bourgeois. He tells it like it is. (That’s a Jersey trait). He makes me want to believe that he’s telling the truth. He came across earnest and genuine. (Another Jersey trait). These are all good PR moves.

But, wow, let’s face it, he’s really in a pickle. Because now the U.S. Attorney of New Jersey (Paul Fishman to the rescue) is going to get into the act and the rule of law will rule, not the rule of PR. With a timeline of events that makes Swiss cheese look rock solid, Gov. Christie is going to have absolutely no wiggle room.

A hero last September, now a big, fat zero less than 500 days later. All for what?

Take a look at The New York Times editorial. It’s excellent.

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Filed under PR Commentary, Uncategorized

Making Filet Mignon Out of…

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Man sits down with 15 friends at a fancy steak joint and dons a wool cap. Management gives him the boot, saying hats in their restaurant are uncivil attire. Even with a $2,500 bill, man is treated like chopped liver.

This is where the food fight gets juicy. Turns out he’s being treated for cancer and the hat was keeping his head warm. Insulted, and rightly so, his buddies pull out their phones and start tweeting away. They slice the restaurant to shreds.

Rather than ignoring the swelling ranks of angry customers (and future customers), Morton’s Steakhouse in Nashville makes a quick, 21st century recovery — they turn a disaster into an opportunity by donating $2,000 to St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital on behalf of the scorned diner. Oh, and they’ve even offered to underwrite a cancer fundraiser. Nice recovery, Morton’s.

Professor PR is impressed. Aren’t you?

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Filed under food fight, Uncategorized

Netflix is the New Black Indeed

In an earlier blog post more than a year ago, I was extremely down on Netflix and thought they had blown it by fiddling around with their pricing structure.  But boy do I have egg on my face. According to a recent story in The New York Daily News,  1.3 new U.S. subscribers signed on during the third quarter alone, helping the company post a 22 percent increase over its third-quarter number last year. No surprise then, after that data was announced, the stock soared 10 percent.

Why the love affair? I think it’s pretty simple, since I am one of those fans with a mad crush. First of all, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are both first rate shows with excellent actors, writing and production. And second, what I really love about these shows (and Netflix in general) is the ability to watch them anytime, anywhere, in any environment.

My location of choice is the treadmill. I hang my iPad in front of me, pop in a set of earphones, and I’m off and power walking for the next 50 minutes or so while enjoying top-notch entertainment. The calorie burn and cardiovascular workout are icing on the cake. I’m actually disappointed when the episode ends.

Now that I’ve blown through my two favorite shows, I’ve started downloading movies and other television shows. I mean, really, how great is that?

With its recent, multiple Golden Globes nominations, Netflix is definitely on to something new and exciting. It just shows that a brand can overcome a stumble when looking at the world through a new color lens.

OraNGE

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Filed under PR Commentary

In Brief: Ring-a-ding-ding Joe Boxer, You Certainly Caught My Eye

I’m feeling a bit like Congressman Francis Underwood, Kevin Spacey’s character in “House of Cards,” when he pauses in the middle of a plot point and turns toward the camera, deadpanning, “I’m surprised it took this long.”

I noticed Joe Boxer’s new commercial for Kmart last night and did a double-take. Are those guys in boxers grinding their hips to the bell chimes of “Jingle Bells?” Wow, now that is one heck of an out-of-boxer Christmas commercial.

By this morning the nay-sayers started coming out of the woodwork (they may have started last night, but I was too busy dreaming of a JB Christmas). The Parents Television Network is outraged. Joe Boxer’s Facebook page is predictably lighting up with lots of tsk-tsks. But Kmart is standing firm, and according to the online poll on AOL, the fans were ahead 64% – 36%.

Take it from Professor PR, that’s what’s called creating a buzz. I hope we’ll see Bobby, Seth and Kenan in their Joes this Saturday night, with a guest appearance by Seth and Justin. Would that be fun?

Why stop at Xmas? How about a little something for the eight nights of Hanukkah? Imagine Halloween next year.  Can’t wait to watch this #ShowYourJoes snowball pick up speed.

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November 19, 2013 · 12:18 pm