Off to a Fast Start: Contenders Vie for 2007 PR Disaster of the Year


follow Just a short post on Day One of my professional life outside Ford…


Yes, I have decided to venture off on my own after 23 years in public relations with Ford Motor Company. With fond memories and a wealth of experience, I leave the company confident that: Ford will emerge strong and vibrant someday from the severe difficulties it faces today; and that opportunities for me personally are quite promising elsewhere. .

Much more on this later, including the future I envision for Force for Good Communications. In the meantime, one month and one day into the new year, we already have some serious contenders for PR Disaster of 2007.


First up is Joe Biden. You have to be amazed how quickly this guy can flame out. Remember his short-lived 1988 bid as a Presidential candidate?Biden_foot_in_mouth His 15 minutes were up as soon as he fumbled the revelation that he had plagiarized British politician Neal Kinnock. (Even now you have to scratch your head and wonder why he simply didn’t come clean, admit he had lifted a few phrases he admired from another politico and move on.) Given that stellar history, I give Biden zero chance for over-coming his clumsy “clean” praise for Barack Obama. But Biden’s blunder, as well as his current Presidential bid, will be long-forgotten by the time December rolls around, so count him out for the coveted FFG PR Disaster of the Year hardware.


French President Jacques Chirac’s misstatements clearly have more staying power. Chirac told a group of reporters yesterday that there was little reasonChiracspeech_1  to fear a nuclear-armed Iran because if it ever did attack Israel, “Tehran would be razed to the ground.”  When his comments appeared minutes later in newswire stories, Chirac immediately reversed himself. The about-face left considerable doubt on France’s position regarding nuclear weapons-deterrence toward Iran. Those of us who make a living providing media relations counseling could only smile at Chirac’s lame excuse for his brazen stupidity: he had thought he was off-the record with the throng of media. (Never heard that before.)


But the front runner for PR Disaster of the Year clearly is Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoon Network and the ham-handedTerror_hoax_morons marketers responsible for the circuit-board-like light boxes placed all over Boston and mistaken for the work of terrorists. The snickering demeanor of the two morons (left) arraigned in court this afternoon did not help matters for TBS — which issued an apology but clearly faces some serious repercussions for causing panic and distress. Who approved a campaign built around a sneak attack of dozens of crude light boxes featuring the less-than-endearing image of a cartoon character’s obscene gesture? Evidently, Turner’s marketing company doesn’t know the difference between guerrilla marketing and guerrilla warfare. (Okay, I stole that line from somebody I heard on NPR this morning. See how easy it is to come clean, Mr. Biden?)


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  1. TAR ART RAT says:

    The Aqua Teen Incident in Boston was undoubtedly a “fiasco” and/or “National Security Threat”, BUT I beg to differ in this particular case: the amplification of this event and the fact that it made national news made it far more sucessful than it couldn’ve ever possibly hoped to be.
    With a show such as Aquua Teen there is no such thing as “bad” PR, however I am sure that Turner isn’t too terribly pleased that the incident ultimately comes back to them, but- after all the dust has settled, one might place this case in a special Third Category: “BestWorst PR DisasterSucess of 2007″
    In the meantime, I wonder if there is any Aqua Teen still left on youtube…

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