O'Connor is no hero for good publicity

It's an age-old academic debate: Can you separate an artist's work from his life? Is TS Eliot's literary genius, for example, diminished by his apparent anti-Semitism?

It's an age-old academic debate: Can you separate an artist's work from his life? Is TS Eliot's literary genius, for example, diminished by his apparent anti-Semitism?

Well, thanks to Matt O'Connor, we're now being forced to apply that question to publicity stunts. Does a flabby guy in a superhero suit do his cause any good if he draws global attention to it, but is himself a major jerk? Holy arrest records, Batman - no he doesn't. On Monday, O'Connor won global attention for his organization, Fathers 4 Justice, and his cause, divorced dads who are denied access to their kids, by scaling Buckingham Palace dressed as the dark knight. He claimed that he was being kept away from his kids despite a court ruling granting him visiting rights. But by Tuesday, the English press uncovered evidence suggesting the marketing consultant might not be such a sympathetic superhero. On Christmas Day 2000, he was arrested for criminal damage after angrily kicking his ex-wife's car - in front of his kids. Two months later, O'Connor was booked again, this time for being drunk and disorderly. And in one of the smoothest PR moves ever pulled off by a father not dangling a baby, he told reporters that he often got drunk and cheated on his ex while she was minding the kids. Spiffy costume aside, there was surely someone better suited to serve as an icon of deprived fatherhood than this joker. Now, what could have been a heroic gesture of fatherly commitment serves as a reminder of why some dads should be kept away from their kids. Thank God Robin wasn't around to see this.
  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC, bureau chief. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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