Like most of my readers, I have been locked indoors for the last month because of precautionary measures the world’s governments have taken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. After a long-time pondering what to make of it all, the moment has come to share a few upbeat insights.Read more
The PR business has largely advised institutions to ignore or denounce the seismic shift in public opinion that led the USA to Trump and the UK to Brexit. Many PR professionals have even urged their clients to associate themselves more closely with the agendas that sparked the mass public backlash. But Biden's narrow victory over Trump demonstrates that instead of healing divisions this strategy made society more polarised than ever. Here I examine some of the underlying issues. I also suggest some alternative approaches to today's increasingly ineffective corporate PR strategies, mantras and fads. More »
Allen Lane imprint Penguin Books 2019
The shocking truth about Chernobyl is how few people were killed or made ill by radiation.
I’m getting an adrenaline rush watching HBO and Sky TV’s five-part dramatisation of the Chernobyl accident, because in 1995 I spent six months working at the heart of the disaster. At that time, I was the only Westerner permanently based at the site. So I’m pleased that – so far – the Chernobyl drama has delivered a riveting portrayal of blundering bureaucrats and their betrayal of plant operators. It stirs my heart to see proper credit given to those involved in the heroic effort to contain the accident and clean up the mess. The scale of the fallout, which displaced hundreds of thousands of people, affecting millions living in designated contamination zones, was massive. The response to it was courageous and inspirational.
As predicted by 21st Century PR Issues earlier this year, Gillette sales are falling following the release of its high-profile – much debated and viewed – advertisement which denigrated its core customer base:
The ad, entitled ‘We Believe’, was released in January. It asked men to “shave their toxic masculinity,” while blaming an entire gender for the actions of a small percentage of sexual abusers, rapists and perverts. [Gillette Sales Decline Following ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Ad, summit.news]
Virtue-signalling is especially damaging when a leading manufacturer issues an advertisement designed to appeal to those people who really do hate (as in despise) everything that that firm’s brand has traditionally stood for. So it’s no wonder that many men – who bought into the once carefully cultivated and appealing brand image – are now turning their back on Gillette and going elsewhere to buy their razors.
Proctor and Gamble’s Gillette has released a commercial promoting razor blades, which sends out the message that men are such a menace to women that they must be tamed. But no matter what one thinks of #MeToo, we should all question the politicisation of mass consumer advertising. We need to ask why the marketing department at Gillette thought it was a good idea to produce an advert caricaturing their customers as brutish stereotypical sex pests; who require a health warning and moral policing. It is, indeed, gobsmacking that anybody at Gillette thought it was smart for a corporate Goliath to traduce the integrity and character of their core market. Read on ›
In meiner Funktion als Eventmanager des „Zurich Salon“ organisierte ich am 20. Oktober 2018 an der Universität Zürich das „Battle of Ideas Festival“ in Zürich. Es war eine Satellitenveranstaltung eines etablierten, grossen Festivals in London, das seit 2012 jährlich im Barbican Centre, Europas grösster Kunst- und Kultureinrichtung, stattfindet. Das „Battle of Ideas Festival” wurde 2005 an der Universität „Royal College of Art“ in London gegründet. Read on ›
In his just published book – Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth – Howard Kurtz, a former Washington Post columnist, explores how the media became the ‘opposition party’ to an unlikely President. It delivers a compelling account of how, by refusing to engage in proper debate and resorting instead to insults and fear-mongering, the fourth estate betrayed its historic mission to hold power accountable to the public. He warns that the media’s failure to grapple with the major issues of the day risks damaging their reputation to such an extent that it may never recover. Read on ›
Do you remember the advent of social media when they were praised for being disruptive, positive innovations? The talk was of long tails, wisdom of crowds, the end of old-fashioned business models (dead tree press is dead) or statements like the new world is bottom up – or flat – rather than top down. Now they are being discussed by the same enthusiasts as if they were managed by oligarchical villains selling addictive, toxic products and lifestyles to an inert public that is blind to reason. But the commentators’ new-found pessimism is as misguided as their abandoned optimism. Read on ›
Following the scandal over the groping of girls at the Presidents Club’s reportedly debauched charity gala at the Dorchester Hotel in London, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has axed its leggy showgirls. To appease feminists and the PC brigade that hates darts, with or without its girly appeal, the PDC finally caved into requests to kiss goodbye to the pretty women who walk male darts stars on to the stage. Darts fans have been betrayed. Read on ›
Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first vice president of diversity and inclusion, went on the record opining that there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation. Declaring that diversity is the human experience, Smith said: ‘I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of colour, or the women, or the LGBT.’ Read on ›
A few thousand tabloid-loathing Stop Funding Hate campaigners, exercising their wrist action on Twitter and Facebook, have persuaded Paperchase to abandon an advertising promotion, which offered readers of The Daily Mail two free sheets of Christmas wrapping paper. What should the advertising and PR community make of this debacle? Read on ›