An Affair to Remember – Or Sue Over

Queen Sofia 120x150 An Affair to Remember   Or Sue Over

The PR Verdict: “B”(Good Show) for Queen Sofia.

Life is short; have an affair! So says the tagline for dating website Ashley Madison. The site that links members seeking extramarital affairs now finds itself in the headlines. While Ashley Madison thinks infidelity provides endless fun, the Queen of Spain does not agree – she is suing the website for “damage to her honor and dignity.”

The site is known for its provocative advertisements. The latest featured a doctored photo of the Spanish monarch with her royal arms draped around a semi-naked man, with the promise “Now you no longer have to spend the night alone.” The ad, widely believed to be cashing in on rumors of King Juan Carlos’s philandering, led Queen Sofia to promptly file suit.

The news comes in the same week that a Spanish waiter and a Belgian housewife lost legal bids to prove they are the illegitimate children of the 74-year-old king. Ashley Madison previously ran a similar ad using a Photoshopped picture of the King flanked by two models with the tagline, “The best place to ‘hunt’ for an adventure.” At the time, King Juan turned the other cheek and took no legal action. The ball is now in Sofia’s court, and she’s throwing it back hard.

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Queen Sofia. As a warning shot, this sends the signal she intended.

The PR Takeway: It’s okay not to go “all the way”; sometimes starting a legal action is enough in itself, even if you don’t intend to finish what you started. The Queen has some measure of public sympathy on her side with no whiff of scandal, unlike her husband. As unlikely as this case is to go to court, she has fired a warning shot that she will defend her reputation. In so doing, she has also taken the attention away from her husband’s recent travails in court. Her actions might be the game and conversation changer both King and Queen were seeking.

To read more, click here.

Why Bain Capital is in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

BAINromney2 300x168 Why Bain Capital is in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

The PR Verdict: “C” for Bain Capital.

If any publicity is good publicity, then take a look at Bain Capital, the investment firm, founded by presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  The firm is front and center in a TV ad, issued by the Obama campaign, undermining Romney’s record on jobs.  The ad’s main focus is Bain’s 1993 investment in a Kansas steel company, GST Steel.

The advertisement cuts between interviews with former GST workers and clips of Romney on the campaign trial, saying he knows what “makes jobs come and go.”  One ageing worker says of Bain, “It’s like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” while another says that Bain’s impact was “like watching an old friend bleed to death”.  Ironically, the ad echoes a strategy used by Newt Gingrich during Republican primaries, which characterised Romney’s firm as “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company.”  Ouch!

A statement has been issued by Bain to clarify  certain facts but it has gained almost no traction in the wider media. One thing Bain can be sure of? Whatever it says will be drowned out, from now until November.  How then to protect a brand?

The PR Verdict: “C” for Bain Capital.  So far the statement issued to the media is adequate but won’t suffice.  Editorial coverage wont give the clarifying bang needed.

The PR Takeaway: Bain Capital is caught in the in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In its statement the firm reaffirmed that it takes no public position on any candidate, that Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital over 13 years ago and that it has grown revenues in over 80 percent of its companies.  Fair enough! The bad news is that this will not get any serious airtime. Competing priorities are sexier.  Bain now needs strategically placed, low key advertising to convey its points without being edited.  Privately, why not start preparing for a partial rebrand, sometime after November?

To read the statement from Bain click here. To see the TV advertisement click here.

What’s your PR Verdict?

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Asian Women, Racial Stereotypes and How Not to Win a Senate Seat.

debbiespenditnow Asian Women, Racial Stereotypes and How Not to Win a Senate Seat.

THE PR VERDICT: "D" a resounding flop!

We’re more than a little stunned by the latest negative campaign ad, sponsored by U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra against incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

The thirty-second ad opens with the sound of a gong and a young Asian woman riding a bike near rice paddies. The woman stops her bike in the Asian landscape (actually California) and says in vaguely broken English, “You borrow more and more from us. Your economy gets very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you.”

If the intent was to generate national headlines and controversy then full marks to the genius that dreamt this up.  In thirty seconds the ad successfully offended Asian Americans, and alarmed Hoekstra’s own Republican leadership which immediately sought to distance itself from the ad.

The PR Verdict: “D” a resounding flop. The ensuing publicity has focused solely on Hoekstra’s questionable judgment and nothing else. How does this help his campaign?

Hoekstra’s campaign defends the ad as “satirical”.  Does this mean harmless? If so, why not substitute the Asian woman with a range of other stereotypes and wait for belly laughs from the audience?  Is Hoekstra running for the senate or trying to get as job as an intern at Saturday Night Live?

CAMPAIGN VIDEO – PETE HOEKSTRA FOR US SENATE

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