The PR week: The good, the bad and the bizarre from the last seven days

Your rapid-fire, no holds-barred run through of the last seven days in PR, as viewed by PRWeek Asia Head of Content Gary Scattergood

America Ferrera and Eva Longoria on stage at the Golden Globes (screen grab)
America Ferrera and Eva Longoria on stage at the Golden Globes (screen grab)

Bum notes

A quote from David Ogilvy’s Confession’s of an Advertising Man cropped up on LinkedIn this week. It was: "Never send a memo on the day you write it".

How some brands must wish we still lived in such an age. Especially when they make such monumental howlers on Twitter.

Barely a day goes by without someone posting a hasty, ill-judged, and usually downright-offensive tweet.

Straight in at number one in our hall of shame this week is MTV Australia, which decided to sidestep its specialties of manufactured pop pointlessness and brainless reality TV tosh and waded into race relations.

During the Golden Globes, the channel's Twitter account asked "where are the subtitles?" when Latina actors America Ferrera and Eva Longoria were presenting an award on stage

The tweet was sent during a joke between Ferrera and Longoria about how they have often been mistaken for other Latina actors, highlighting issues around casual racism. 

In a statement to Mashable, MTV Australia's publicity manager Natasha Leivers said the tweet was made in reference to the actors' joke, but admitted it was a mistake.

"We apologise for causing any offence and have decided to leave the humour to Ricky Gervais," she added.

We’re sure Ricky’s honoured.

WTF Friday

Aside from MTV’s "comedy" faux pas, this week has been littered with ‘WTF were they thinking?’ episodes.

Have a guess which of these isn’t true.

1)   A Thai beauty company issued a grovelling apology over an ad for its skin whitener which claimed: "White makes you win".

2) The makers of an instant translator released a fly-on-the wall video where a British man approaches apparently random Japanese women and uses the device to forcefully convince them to kiss him. After widespread social media criticism, they admit it was a marketing stunt.

3)   Rubber shoe firm Crocs decided the best way to pay tribute to David Bowie (and receive tonnes of abuse) was to post a picture of a red lightning bolt layered on top of one of their shoes, echoing the lightning bolt painted over the face of Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust.

4)   PR firms wish these brands would stop making such blunders, because they really do not have the time or inclination to help them all.

Another brick in the wall

Fair play to Lego this week, which finally remembered it is a toy company and not the international arbiter on what is the acceptable use of its bricks.

Last October the firm refused on political grounds to supply a bulk order of its bricks to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

But this week it released a statement saying it will now not ask for a buyer’s "thematic purpose" before supplying the bricks.

"Instead, the customers will be asked to make it clear - if they intend to display their Lego creations in public - that the Lego Group does not support or endorse the specific projects."

Quite why this took three months to be implemented, and not three minutes, we’re not too sure.

Even with our limited Lego skills, we’re pretty sure we could have finished its 5,195 piece Millennium Falcon – dubbed the most difficult Lego set – in less time.

Movers and shakers

In Hong Kong, Artemis Associates has added a splash of royalty to its roster by hiring Naomi Butson, former chief of staff to princes William and Harry and princess Catherine, as VP. Meanwhile, PPR Worldwide opened its doors on PPR South Asia, its new venture that launched in India on Thursday.

Across the globe in the US, Nicole Mann joined Ketchum to head up its corporate and public affairs practice; Kabam’s global comms head Steve Swasey has left to join a new company in San Francisco; and MSLGroup’s global head of CSR and sustainability Scott Beaudoin has jumped to RF|Binder to be chief strategy officer and executive MD of corporate and brand purpose.

In the UK, Daisy Dunlop was named Guto Harri’s successor as director of comms at News UK; Tesco’s corporate affairs head Rebecca Shelley has said she’s stepping down next month; and BBH Sport made two new senior hires, including Luisa Fernandez from British Airways.

On the pitch front, Red Agency won the Guinness World Records account for Australia and New Zealand; UK-based The Honey Partnership landed three new Chinese clients who want to be big guns in the West; and Russell Stover in the US has brought on FleishmanHillard as its first comms AOR.

Final thought: Pucker up

Our favourite press release this week came from Singapore’s mobile dating and social networking app, Paktor, which guaranteed users a "physical date" if they followed specific guidelines.

Said guidelines "include simple steps such as users swiping right on at least 50 profiles every day, responding to every single message and initiating contact with matches within 12 hours of matching."

Needless to say the release failed to address why anyone would want to go on a date with someone so desperate.

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