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.

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.