Flack on Friday: Wayne Rooney, Ketchum, The Romans, Cicero, Leave.EU

In Flack this week: The Romans marches into Cicero Google ad controversy, Wayne Rooney scores PR goal, and a Marathon effort from PRWeek journo (with a little help from Ketchum).

The Romans ‘Caesars’ the day

Among the most intriguing PR stories yesterday was the cheeky actions of comms agency Cicero. To recap, Cicero bought Google ads aimed at promoting itself while also undermining its major agency rivals when people searched for them online. Brunswick, Bell Pottinger, Edelman and Blue Rubicon were all targeted in the stunt.

Cicero later apologised, saying the move was "a mistake by a junior member of staff".

But Flack has now learned that another PR agency, The Romans, isn’t letting the matter lie. The agency has used Cicero’s tactic against it in a similar Google ad campaign, featuring a clever allusion to the fact the original first-century-BC politician and philosopher Cicero was assassinated under the orders of Rome’s leaders.

Who says a classical education doesn’t pay, eh?


EU can’t be serious

Campaign egg-on-face moment of the week is awarded to Euro naysayers Leave.EU after it was outed by the national press for employing migrant workers in its call centres.

The ‘Remainers’ duly made hay while the sun shone, accusing Leave.EU not only of standard-issue hypocrisy but of "double standards beyond parody", which made for a nice line in hyperbole.

Responding, Arron Banks of Leave.EU made the mildly ominous defence that discriminating against applicants who were "legally in the country at the moment" would be wrong but Flack suspects the hypocrisy charge is likely to be more sticky in the minds of the public than this nuanced defence.

Ketchum if you can...

Here's PRWeek's senior reporter Anna Reynolds (far left) after completing the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon with the #KetchumFlyers from the eponymous PR agency (including Europe CEO David Gallagher, pictured far right in the hat).

Everyone managed to run the course in under two hours and, usefully, received a flapjack afterwards. According to a source close to the runners, the high point was having Henry VIII in fancy dress jump out from behind a bush at the 10-mile point. Crikey. Well done, all.


Rooney: He shoots, he PRs!

England captain Wayne Rooney was injured and so unable to take part in the recent friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany - although he'll have been glad to miss the latter as it was marred by inopportune pitchside ads, Flack imagines.

Still, he was present in the ITV studio as a pundit for the game against the Dutch, which James Olley writing in the London Evening Standard reckons was a canny PR move by his agent Paul Stretford. Rooney hasn't been playing awfully well of late, and his place in the team is under debate.

"Of course, as a pundit there was precious little insight he [Rooney] could provide... but that wasn't really the point. Frankly, it was a lot harder for anyone to speculate over whether Rooney should be first-choice at Euro 2016 when he's actually in the room." Instead, the issue remained the elephant in the room.


No publicity is good publicity? Clearly

PRWeek enjoyed a new campaign launched last week by flavoured water brand Perfectly Clear, led by a straight-talking, anti-sugar 'scientist'.

Great work from the actor involved, except when PRWeek asked who the actor portraying the scientist was, the agency was unable to say.

As far as Flack could make out (it wasn't Perfectly Clear) it seems that for whatever reason it was legally stipulated that the actor couldn't be named - but fortunately a TV buff on PRWeek's staff recognised him as (apparently) bashful actor and broadcaster Jamie East.

It would of course be catty to question why East hadn't asked not to be named when hosting Big Brother's Bit On The Side on TV in previous years. So Flack won't do so.


Grey matters in logos

News this week from PR Agency One that colour isn't really much cop. Well, in logos anyway - a survey carried out for its client, the printer ink merchant CartridgePeople.com, of 1,000 UK adults found that companies using black, white and grey logos are taken most seriously.

Greyscale was seen as the best colour combo for corporate brands by 65 per cent of respondents, beating off competition from primary colours (24 per cent) and secondary colours (11 per cent).

To be honest, Flack is unconvinced it will work for PRWeek:

But why not try it at your agency? You might save a bit of money on printer ink, after all...

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