The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Lupita Nyong’o, whose star continues to rise with this week’s announcement that she won the cover of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful” issue. This can be attributed to Nyong’o’s obvious beauty – a welcome sign that the days when magazines shied away from putting women of color on covers are over – her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years a Slave, and doubtless a team of PRs and managers who have kept Nyong’o in the public eye, steadily but not to the point of over-saturation. Congratulations, Team Lupita.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to Bryan Singer, director of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Singer pulled out of publicity appearances at last week’s WonderCon and will likely remain behind the scenes after a lawsuit was filed accusing him and three other men of sex abuse of minors. “I do not want these fictitious claims to divert ANY attention from X-Men,” Singer’s PR statement read. 20th Century Fox, which will release X-Men next month, issued a terse comment a week ago: “This is a personal matter, which Bryan Singer and his representatives are addressing separately.” Time to distance a director accused of abusing teenagers from a product marketed to teenagers.

rove The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Karl Rove, Bill Kristol and other Republican-Conservative strategists/pundits, for stepping in to “unskew” a New York Times poll favorable to Obamacare and Democratic Senate candidates. The Times poll, conducted with the Kaiser Family Foundation, found Democrats running ahead of or, at worst, neck and neck with GOP opponents in traditionally conservative Southern states. “Badly done,” Rove said of the poll. Kristol and the Republican National Committee were more snarky. But none, including Rove, who famously freaked when Fox News called the Presidential election for Obama two years ago, offered more than opinion to refute the poll.

And the Academy Award Goes to… Embedded Ads

 And the Academy Award Goes to... Embedded Ads

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Ellen DeGeneres and the Academy Awards.

This past Sunday’s Academy Awards were long at over three and a half hours, but by all accounts most people came away satisfied – notably, advertisers, fans of host Ellen DeGeneres, who was a marketer’s dream pitch person, and the network, which enjoyed higher than usual ratings.

DeGeneres quickly established that this year’s awards would be less like the usual ceremony and more like a star-studded version of her talk show. She took selfies with celebs, ordered pizza to be distributed among them – there was fun spontaneity.

Or fun product integration, more like. The star-filled selfie was taken with a smartphone made by Samsung, one of the show’s sponsors. Mild oops when Ellen used an iPhone for later selfies backstage, and when Coke came with the pizza – sponsor Pepsi was not amused. But overall, the free-for-all worked: This year’s Academy Awards pulled in a higher viewership of 43.7 million, and sponsors love those eyeballs.

THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Ellen DeGeneres and the Academy Awards.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Keep both sponsors and viewers in mind. At what point does embedded marketing become obvious, even obnoxious? When it’s not fun. Show producers worked well with advertisers to come up with seemingly impromptu, entertaining ways to spotlight brand names. Not that viewers may even have noticed: A recent Frontline segment showed that young social media users have no idea what the term “selling out” means. Advertisers are moving away from the clunky early days of obvious product integration in movies and TV shows and into an age of clever brand spotlighting.

Changing Hathaway’s Haters

 Changing Hathaways Haters

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Anne Hathaway.

Without a doubt, this year’s Academy Awards gave the media lots to talk about. There’s the debate over Oscar presenter Seth McFarlane’s envelope-pushing monologues, and Jennifer Lawrence’s stumble. But of all the gossip-worthy notes, one point was made so often in the Twitterverse that it began a media storm: Apparently, people hate Anne Hathaway.

Not everyone, of course. After all, Hathaway won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Les Miserables, and she has appeared on numerous magazine covers. But public opinion has been poisoned: the words “Hathaway,” “annoying” and “hate” garner multimillions of Google results. Even Anderson Cooper recently felt the need to defend Hathaway on his show.

The reasons are vague but came to a tipping point with Hathaway’s Academy Awards acceptance speech. The accusation? Rehearsed and not terribly genuine. Even before that, though, Tweeters were bashing her Awards dress for showing her nipples, a wardrobe malfunction that seemed less accidental after paparazzo photographed her going commando at the New York Les Mis premiere.

Who cares if a few (million) people hate her? Well, Hollywood, for one. Hathaway’s detractors are predominantly women. If Hathaway scores low on female popularity ratings, then certain roles won’t be made available. She needs some turnaround PR to make sure her place at the Vanity Fair Oscar party is secured.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Anne Hathaway. A legion of female haters may ultimately change her career in Hollywood.

THE PR TAKEAWAY:  Want to be more liked? Find new friends and revisit old ones. When half the movie buying population doesn’t care for you, a PR rethink is needed. Hathaway’s problem is that she tests in market research as aloof and unapproachable. For the moment, cease photo shoots with Vogue and Bazaar, quietly put Valentino back on the rack, and instead publicly pal around with some old school buddies while booking slots on the chat shows hosted by other women: Ellen, Wendy Williams, Oprah, and Chelsea Handler. Being aloof and talented may be chic, but being in the company of other likeable women will turn this PR issue around. Just ask Hilary Clinton and Meryl Streep.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners and Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Lynn de Forrester Rothschild. What happens when people turn on their own? That might have been the reaction to the op-ed by Rothschild, chief executive of the famous family’s investment holding company. In the week of the rapidly approaching sequester deadline, Rothschild questioned in Monday’s New York Times the intellectual justification for the “carried interest” exemption that effectively minimizes the tax bill for private equity, hedge fund managers, and investment trusts. Describing the tax exemption as violating basic standards of “fairness and common sense,” she joined the ranks of other financial notables like Warren Buffet by penning a point of view with punch. As calls for spending cuts intensify, this was a timely addition to a debate that continues to stall. In this case it was the identity of the author that made this a PR moment.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: F (“Full Fiasco”) to The OnionAs much as we love the biting humor of The Onion, the satirical publication earns this week’s PR Loser Award for its wildly offensive and unfunny Tweet about nine-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis during the Oscars. Presumably the Tweeter thought referring to an adorable child (who carried a puppy purse to the awards) as one of the most vulgar words in the English language would be groundbreakingly clever and hilarious. Despite an immediate apology from CEO Steve Hannah, however, the mark was badly missed. In one of the most controversial awards shows ever, The Onion crossed far over the line.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to Michelle Williams. If there were presses to be stopped, we’d be yelling that famous line now; if you weren’t already sitting down to read this, please do so. Members of the press, prepare: Actress Michelle Williams has announced that she is growing out her pixie haircut. Yes, yes, we know: shocking. Now, we’re not so busy examining matters of papal shakeups and sequester-related furloughs that we don’t like our media candy as well as the next person. But surely the press junket for Oz: The Great and Powerful couldn’t have been dull enough to warrant this many quotes about the Williams’ do. PRs for the film, take note – and take control of the interviews.

On the Red Carpet (Yawn) at the Oscars

 On the Red Carpet (Yawn) at the Oscars

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for PRs on the red carpet.

Was there anything of note to come out of the almost 90 minutes of interviews on the red carpet before Sunday’s Oscar ceremony? All interviews were tightly managed and controlled, with PRs flanking relentlessly both sides of the stars in question. The problem? Heavy PR supervision led to indistinguishable interviews and some mighty dull TV.

The format of the red-carpet interview is set in stone: Say you are having a wonderful time (“This SOOOO amazing!”). Name the designer of the gown you have been sewn into. Thank everyone who contributed to your look, including your best friend and brilliant stylist (usually the same). Say you chose the outfit because it is simultaneously comfortable, beautiful, and, above all, a reflection of who you really are. With a wave of the hand, show the jewelry. Finally, air-kiss the interviewer farewell while talking in a voice normally reserved for teens at a birthday party. Move onto your next interview, guided by your clipboard-carrying PR heavies, and repeat. No wonder host Seth McFarlane’s patter seemed so shocking by comparison.

PRs are notorious for picking and choosing which journalists will be granted interviews – those who are friendly to their star client, stay on script, and will allow the roll call of designer names to be dropped in lieu of a decent quote. But is this good PR? Why oh why can’t someone be allowed to occasionally go off script?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for PRs, who just might be doing their jobs too effectively, making glittering celebrities seem positively dull.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Leave some wiggle room for spontaneity. The most surprising thing about the Oscars was how utterly unsurprising the almost 90 minutes of interviews were before the show started. Nothing wrong with an upbeat tone, but why not have the client differentiate herself from the pack? This might mean the occasional tough interview, or even snarky comment. Sometimes the best PR is packaging the product so that all bases are covered. In other cases, when blessed with a witty, intelligent client, let the cards fall where they may. News is news when something surprises. PRs should consider giving the Twitterverse something to really tweet about.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners and Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) TO Malala Yousafzai. The teenaged Pakistani activist who defied the Taliban and agitated for education for young girls like herself  was shot in the head last October. She defied the Taliban yet again by living, getting well enough to ask for her schoolbooks, and leaving the hospital under her own power earlier this week. The savvy teen has made sure to be photographed upright and strong, looking ready to take on the world. And the world stands by this young vision of inspiration as she transforms herself into an iconic figure of resistance Brava!

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO AIG. Instead of celebrating the launch of their brilliant advertising campaign, they were inundated by headlines blasting the company for potentially joining a lawsuit against the US government over its bailout. AIG’s board decided not pursue the claim, but the damage was done – and at least some of it was self-inflicted. The juicy tidbit was discovered by The New York Times in court records. AIG may have fared better by proactively explaining to the press that it had a legal obligation to consider the matter. Instead, it appears management hoped the whole issue would go unnoticed. Tsk, tsk.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Gwyneth Paltrow. The former vegan turned roast chicken-eating cookbook author has let the world know, via her GOOP.com site, that she is not on a diet, not on a cleanse, not detoxing, nor doing anything rail-thin actresses usually do. “For now, I would like to continue with my pasta and cheese,” writes the Academy Award winner, who has a second cookbook coming out soon. We suppose we should applaud an actress admitting that she eats, but somehow this cynical PR exercise seems so . . . so . . . so what.

How Funny Was The Dictator On The Red Carpet?

sachabaron choen1 How Funny Was The Dictator On The Red Carpet?

The PR Verdict: “B” for General Aladeen and his ho-hum stunt.

Did anyone find Sacha Baron Cohen on the Academy Awards red carpet funny? As a comedic exercise it was at best lukewarm, but as a PR exercise it hit the mark, securing more coverage than if he had topped the “best-dressed” list.  Is spilling pancake mix the new way to secure coverage?

Prior to the Oscars there had been some noise about whether the Academy would allow Cohen to walk down the red carpet dressed as the fictional General Aladeen from his upcoming movie The Dictator.  Earlier reports claimed he had been forbidden to attend the ceremony, which the Academy denied.  In any case, the anticipation generated some pre-Oscar column inches.

During a red carpet interview on the night with Ryan Seacrest of E!, Cohen, carrying an urn filled with the “ashes” of former North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Il said it was Kim’s dream to attend the Oscars and “to be sprinkled over the red carpet and Halle Berry’s chest.”  He then tipped the urn to cover an un-amused Seacrest with dust.  Cue laughter.

The PR Verdict: “B” for General Aladeen who, despite the joke falling rather flat, got the PR bang he was hoping for.  There is no doubt the Dictator got more coverage than if he had walked down the red carpet as plain Sacha Cohen.

This PR stunt generated endless replays, went viral and gave commentators, tired of debating the length of Angelina’s leg, new material.  It created the sort of fuss that is the dream of every PR and has been followed up assiduously on social media by Cohen’s PR and marketing team. Now, the  the real test will be to see whether the 1.5 million hits on You Tube translate into movie ticket sales.

To see the interview click here and to read more click here. Take our poll and let us know how funny you found the interview:

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