UN Secretary Moon Eclipsed at Olympics?

 UN Secretary Moon Eclipsed at Olympics?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Ban Ki Moon.

Should the Secretary General of the United Nations take PR lessons from the world of celebrity publicists? The head of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon (BKM), arguably the figurehead for the global community, made a puzzling appearance at the Olympic opening.  Was it good for the UN brand?

First up, BKM carried the Olympic flame through central London, wearing a white tracksuit, smiling and waving pleasantly to the crowds. He then surfaced again on Friday with a small cadre of team members carrying the Olympic flag to mark  the end of the ceremony. News reports said he was participating to promote an Olympic truce between warring countries during the games.

He stood second in line, carrying the flag and sharing the limelight with the founder of UK civil liberties group Liberty, Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebrselassie, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, and Brazilian environmentalist Marina Silva. Impressive company, to be sure, but shouldn’t the office of the Secretary General of the United Nations be afforded higher status?

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Ban Ki Moon. Let’s face it the rules of the maitre d’ apply: Where you sit and who you sit next to are key. It shows how important–or not–you are.

The PR Takeaway: Visuals really matter when that’s all you have. Editors of major fashion magazines are notorious for insisting on front row seating for the runway shows. If not, it’s a no-show from them, on the basis that any other placement devalues the magazine’s brand. Tough talk, but an effective policy that invariably gets them the right positioning. For the sake of the UN brand and its global influence, why not insist that Ban Ki Moon be placed, at the very least, next to the UK Prime Minister and the Mayor of London? Or how about with the head of the Olympic federation–two organizations with shared ideals? With the world watching, BKM’s rightful place was up on the podium, not in the trenches. BKM might want to speed dial Vogue front-row-center editor Anna Wintour before accepting the next invitation.

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What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. At first I could not believe it when the PR verdict reported it: Ban Ki Moon carrying the torch in the Olympics, but when I saw the pictures it was clear: no April fool’s joke. One can only ask: who advises him on P.R. Matters? Does he listen to his advisers?
    Indeed, the Secretary-general of the UN has for years struggled to maintain his protocol position as a head of state or government, whcih is not accepted by all countries. So I agree with Mark that this does not enhance the UN brand or the position of the UN’ s head internationally, especially as it was not directly related to any UN goals or activities.

  2. I know it is politically incorrect to raise doubts about the United Nations, but I question the relevance of the UN in this day and age. Can anyone point to a positive achievement by the UN in recent times. Witness the ongoing genocide in Syria. If the UN is effective, why is the poverty epidemic growing at an alarming rate. With that backdrop, I was therefore surprised to see Ban Ki Moon have any role at all in the opening ceremony. I think he was fortunate to be in the company of legends like Haile Gebrselassie and Muhammad Ali.

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