Tag Archives: PR crisis

Seeing Red

starbucks-red-cup-christian-protest

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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Filed under Branding

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

Crisis, What Crisis?

Planes, trains, ships and cars, even the auto capital of the world, Detroit. There’s a crisis somewhere every day. Best to be prepared ahead of the snowball rolling downhill.

Paul Lee, a partner at venture-capital firm Lightbank Inc. in Chicago and an independent board director for Lifeway Foods Inc., wrote an excellent blog post in today’s Wall Street Journal.

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Hasta La Vista, Baby

Talk about blowing your brand. What is it with older, male politicians? Aren’t they supposed to be slowing down as they get older? Or is the limelight so much of an aphrodisiac that one throws out all good judgement?

This weeks two new names were added to the list of brand busters: former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has admitted to fathering the child of an ex-employee,  and the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, sitting in the slammer following his arrest for sexual assault on a hotel maid.

Thanks to 21st century technology and the sheer wattage of this news, these politicians can rest assured that the smearing of their names will reach every corner of the globe. If John Edwards or Eliot Spitzer are any indication, re-branding will be a long, slow road. Bon voyage.

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Filed under PR Problem