Trust and reputations

We are supposed to be short of trust and reputations are certainly under constant and vicious attack. We need to see where trust really does lie, and whether we ought to recalibrate our assessment of reputations.

Categories: Culture Wars / PR issues / Trust and reputations

27 April 2019

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‘Go woke, go broke’

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.

Categories: CSR reality check / Culture Wars / PR issues / Trust and reputations

15 January 2019

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Keep politics out of mass consumer advertising and product PR

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 ›

How social media became toxic

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 ›

Categories: Culture Wars / New PR in Age of Populism / Opinion research / Trust and reputations

17 December 2017

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Give a big fat no to the concept of unconscious bias

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 ›

Lessons from Paperchase’s retreat: corporate cowardice predates social media

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 ›

German media scores own goal in the Culture Wars

A just published report from the Hamburg Media School, commissioned by the Otter Brenner Stiftung, accuses the German media of succumbing to steamroller journalism in support of Angela Merkel’s refugee policy in 2015 and early 2016. The researchers looked at 35 000 articles published over a 20-week period. They found that the media ceased being professional regarding the refuge crisis, when they adopted an overwhelmingly emotionally-involved tone in favour of the government’s actions. Read on ›

PR manifesto for combatting the Culture Wars

21st Century PR Issues maintains that within PR circles there is a near-universal conformity governing the industry’s self-destructive, poorly thought-through response to the Culture Wars. In short: the PR business is currently leading clients in the wrong direction. So here is a PR manifesto that sets out how things could be turned around so that we can help our clients keep their end up in the 21st_century Culture Wars. Read on ›

The Culture Wars: a PR perspective

Societies in the 21st century are increasingly defined by rapidly fragmenting socio-cultural outlooks and competing ways of life. Personhood has been politicised and commodified: we have identity politics and firms track our tastes. Whether it is the words we utter, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, or our taste in holidays, music and sport, or how we demarcate our sexual, racial or national identity, cultural chasms and schisms divide us, even as we are supposed to empathise more intensely and widely. Read on ›

Categories: Crisis management / Culture Wars / Political spin / Trust and reputations

12 July 2017

2 comments

Bell Pottinger South Africa, a reality check

What unites all the major political parties in South Africa: the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)? The answer is their determination to divide the country along pre-existing racial fault lines. Yet the DA, South Africa’s main opposition party, has had the audacity to lodge a misconduct claim against Bell Pottinger (BP) with the UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association, accusing it of “sow[ing] racial mistrust, hate and race-baiting, and [encouraging a] divided society”.  Read on ›