Maybe PR Was Right to Skip the Persuaders

I am watchin PBS right now, watching the Frontline piece, The Persuaders.

I think I owe PR a mea culpa. I blogged that PR refused to do PR for PR, because PR executives passed on speaking on camera.

I think we made the right move. This show made marketing and advertising look foolish and stupid. And, well, manipulative.

First impressions:

  • Song is, well, a wannabe Southwest Airlines. It's like the geek that wants to be cool ... just like the W Hotel. Actually, it was very reminiscent of the dot-com age, a bunch of young marketers sitting together that claim to know what people need but naturally only targetting their peer group: young, white, middle class.

    Song obviously is copying the whole SWA culture - from the "auditions" of flight attendants to the happy times. Slight difference between Delta and Southwest ... one of the airlines is Chapter 11, and it's not the poseur.

    Other problems - the messaging and advertising were never on point. The advertising was too cerebral, they never really got a good message off the ground. Ha, bad pun!
  • "The reptillian hot buttons that compell us to action, and the reptillian is always going to win." This is the genius that told SUV makers to make the SUVs bigger to appeal to the reptilian nature in man.

    In Philosophy, we call this the reptilian crap the Hobbesian state of nature. But, eventually self preservation is supposed to win out. I guess not with the good Doctor.

    I think we learned a lesson here: don't listen to the French.
  • I liked Lutz. I bet he has a philosophy degree, because he understands the philosophy of language, and how the meanings of words change over time.
  • The ending was weak: we're all persuaders.


    No, 90 percent of us are followers, who look to influencers and persuaders to tell us what to buy, what to wear, what to listen to for music. No one likes to be an individual, becuase individualists set their own path and have to not care about what others say. It's always safer with the crowd.

    But, the crowd is boring.
In closing, I think the PR executives were right - this wasn't a piece to highlight the benefits of public relations, but an effort to pain PR, advertising and marketing as manipulative, as something that doesn't benefit the public, but makes them want things that they don't need, unduly influences them.

While, yes, there are PR campaigns that are based on getting publicity for our base desires, there are also other campaigns that are for the greater good, to raise awareness on issues that are important.