Monday, November 01, 2004

PR refuses to do PR for PR

From today's O'Dwyer's:
PR EXECS GO UNDERCOVER

The Public Broadcasting System will air "The Persuaders" on November 9 to explore the inner workings of the marketing and advertising businesses.

The program intended to have a PR focus, but PR executives refused to "go public" about what they do, Justin Vogt, a producer at ‘Frontline,'" told O'Dwyer's.

This website met with three "Frontline" producers earlier this year, and provided a list of top executives for the program to contact. "They were very informative, but would only speak off-the-record," said Vogt.

Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising, is among those interviewed by correspondent Douglas Rushkoff. Roberts talks about the importance of establishing an "emotional connection" between consumers and brands.

Doug Atkin, of Merkley + Partners says effective advertising goes beyond emotions. Marketers are trying to create a passionate zeal for their products equal to "cultists or religious fanatics," he said.

Atkin considers General Motors' Saturn unit a "mass cult brand," pointing out that more than 45,000 people a-year spend part of their vacation time visiting its car plant in Tennessee.

Social critic Naomi Klein scoffs at emotional branding, saying that in the end it is about choosing a laptop or a pair of running shoes.

Do I even need to make a comment on this? It's embarassing that a piece that was supposed to highlight public relations has to turn into a spot on advertising and marketing - our evil twin stepsisters that we have to fight against for money and power.

I do not know what the questions were, nor why the PR executives turned down the opportunity to inform and instruct the PBS audience on public relations; but, for PR executives to turn down an opportunity to speak to a key demographic for PR people - the wealthy, influential PBS audience - has me dumbfounded.

So, what I so far understand is that Frontline could not get one PR person of consequence for an on-air interview, so they tilted most of the program toward the advertising interview.

In a nutshell, this is just embarrassing for the industry.

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