X-Box gun stunt creates fear and a PR disaster

Imitation handgun

In Auckland’s Degree bar in NZ, a man approaches drinkers in an outside bar and waves an imitation pistol around. A scene from an underworld spat or crime show? No, a marketing promotion for X-Box (I’m deliberately not giving the product the PR oxygen it seeks). One company linked to the PR promo (Monaco Corporation) denied it was a deliberate controversy, saying it had farmed the work out to another company. The promo guys were cautioned by police and X-Box got some media coverage. A PR disaster or deliberately dumbass attention-grabbing stunt?

Ta to my NZ correspondent Geoff for the tipoff.

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iSnack 2.0 registered before competition closed

The SMH’s Julian Lee today sees mischief in the fact that the iSnack 2.0 name was registered b4 the comp closed…talking to Julian, I suggested that maybe this was precautionary because the name was so good! I’m also reported as saying: ”If they’ve done something untoward and have registered before it’s [the competition] allowed to run its course then their true motivations have been revealed and they’ll have to come clean, apologise and look for ways to take remedial steps”. Where I’m reported to have said ‘registered’, I’m sure the point I actually made to Julian was ‘registered and decided‘ – important distinction methinks. From a Web2.0 perspective, as Julian and I discussed, with an “army of fact-checkers” sniffing around, it’s an interesting evolution of the story.

Kraft iSnack 2.0 not a PR disaster yet.

Interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Julian Lee yesterday for today’s edition, and despite all the Social Media mudslinging, I couldn’t bring myself to conclude that Kraft’s naming and recanting of its Vegemite brand evolution as iSnack 2.0, is currently a PR disaster. As Kraft’s Simon Talbot told me this a.m., they hear and recognise that the name was a donkey  (NOTE 07/10: Kraft Public Affairs has asked me to clarify that Simon never actually said this: I agree, this was me editorialising) and that they’re gonna change it. To me, that’s responsive PR at its theoretical best! And with 3million jars of the new product sold already, consumers actually love the dip inside the jar. This suggests the business case will stack up and be the proof of the pudding, as it were. This was my reading of the situ for both Julian Lee and Simon Talbot:     

As they’ve been ‘in’ SocMed for about 30 months, and done a lot of research, Kraft’s team is savvy.
I believe the online PR and marcomms team at Kraft get Social Media.
I said this is no PR disaster, yet.
Am weary of those e-gomaniac/e-xperts who decry everything (even bore myself when I do it)
I think Kraft’s naming engagement mechanic was good.
I think they’re practicising effective PR; ie dialogue, response and re-engagement.
I believe they’re consciously walking the controversy management line. NOTE: SIMON T DISSUADES ME FROM THIS NOTION
I do think it’s v clever to get 2/3 PR bites at the launch cherry for the brand evolution.
Historically “letting the people decide” plays out like a vote winner.
And no, I don’t think this will be a PR disaster for the sub or parent brand in the long term.
I asked Simon another two questions:
Truthfully, did you accurately gauge the level, nature and spread (pardon the pun) of e-commentary and response to your first chosen name?
What’s the rough value/worth from the associated PR coverage (digital and trad media) to date?

He answered the first by reiterating the name was a donkey, (this was Gerry McC paraphrasing) and answered the second saying that the Wall St Journal and BBC were keen on this as a developing story; advertising equivalent measurers, standby! I trust Simon will advise me if he gets a handle on the evaluation equation.

Melbourne's Social Media Masterclass: Sept 4

We’re only 2 weeks away from Jen Frahm’s SocMed Masterclass at Federation Sq on 4th September. As I’m an invited panelist, I’m really looking forward to meeting rule-breaking marketer David Meerman Scott, whose ‘New Rules Of PR’ book tangibly influenced some of the ways I practice digital PR today! And for attendees, David promises to SHOW what to do, rather than just vaguely TELL you – I’m all for practical learning! Sessions include: using new-style PR releases, podcasts and viral content to reach consumers; revamping your PR and marketing activities; triggering mass audiences to share your ideas; and getting better understanding of buyer personas (whatever the hell that is, Dave??)

Guerilla marketing and PR disasters; the movie

This coming Monday (17 Aug) I appear in a TV documentary about sports streaking and guerilla marketing screening on SBS. Along with Dennis Rodman and porn-star Britteny Sky, I was interviewed in LA about the pros and cons of sports streaking as a low-cost, high impact marketing device. I think PR and marketers around Australia might find it an interesting watch; it follows a Spanish streaker who wants to use the tactic to become a ‘star’; it interviews the worlds most infamous streakers and the companies that sponsor the stunts to explore the pros and pitfalls. Pitfalls is where I come in; I’m the straight-up Rep Manager who counsels caution around guerilla ‘stunts’. Tune in for interesting viewing. Continue reading

Can Social Media help struggling Aussie retailers?

Stateside blogger Kevin Dugan flags suggestions from Twist Image’s Mitch Joel on how (Yankee) retailers can harness/leverage Web2.0 smarts to help them handle recessionary times. Thing is, the distilled notes work just as well for service and other orgs as it does for retail biznissez: Tips include; creating ‘tribal’ web-based communities/forums (relatively cost-effective/do-able in online environment); integrated marketing isn’t really integrated if it doesn’t have a SocMed component; see Web2.0 engagement as a long-term commitment rather than short-term campaign (just like PR, folks!!); brace for “warts ‘n’ all” conversations; age, as R.Kelly sleazily claimed, ain’t nuthin but a number – Web2.0 talks to cross-generational groups, not just skater-types with ill-fitting drainpipes; AND finally (the inevitable consultants catchcry) get (sic ME) involved sooner rather than later.

Ta to Kevin and Mitch for the thought starters.