For most people, opening their inbox and seeing a warning that gruesome revenge awaits them is an unpleasant experience.
Nevertheless, R&B songstress Ashanti thought blood and gore would be a great idea for a viral campaign to promote her newest single, The Way I Love You.
"The gotchagrams" gave visitors to the song's Web site the chance to send a suspected cheater a message with a warning that the recipient's life might be in danger. During the course of the "e-card," the recipient's name appeared on the screen, seemingly written in blood.
A media think tank, Industry Ears, heard about the promotion, protested its violence, and the singer's label, Universal Motown, took down the site within 24 hours. The uproar nearly got Ashanti booted off Game 5 of the NBA Finals, where she did perform the national anthem.
But fret not slasher cinema fans - you can still catch the video on YouTube. It features Ashanti toying with a kitchen knife and singing about her unfaithful beau, who ultimately ends up submerged in a bathtub of bloody water.
What about this promotional scheme ever sounded like a good idea? Back in 2002, when Ashanti was riding high on the charts, she sang about romance and good fun. She even had a song called Happy make it into the top 10. Perhaps Ashanti needs to have this spelled out for her: People don't like it when you threaten to murder them. In PR, as in life, violence doesn't pay.
PR Play rating:
3. On the right track