Posts Tagged ‘call of duty’

Harry: Prince of Propaganda

Prince Harry is the ultimate recruitment poster boy for the Call of Duty generation. As a soldier Prince, he is in his element: today’s media is plastered with pictures of him in subtle battle dress, poses framed by an apache helicopter gunship, underlining his sense of purpose and presenting him in hero-like dimensions.

From Las Vegas to Camp Bastion, Harry’s headlines – both good and bad – build a modern heroic monomyth around him. He may be a professional soldier – but am I alone in preferring to read about his rock ‘n’ roll hedonism rather than this latest “I killed in Afghanistan” meme?

Hadley Freeman made an apt caricature of Harry’s media appearance in the Guardian, comparing them to “an especially sloaney university’s production of Top Gun (it’s the sunglasses)” and bringing attention to the media “omerta” that surrounds him.

Despite spending a considerable amount of money keeping Harry physically safe, the investment seems to be missing when protecting his image during his end-of-tour media commitment. Arguably, his complacent PR minders dropped their guard. However, some of these soundbites are already having negative resonance in the region he works hard to improve.

Harry uses the language of the squaddie in his interviews, comparing his experience to that of a computer game. Such comments have angered senior officials who have said it is disrespectful to those who died alongside Captain Wales.

Criticising the media was another own-goal – by now the prince should know better and should rise above the clichéd clamour. Harry is popular with the crowd, so why does he allow his cynicism towards the Third Estate create future tensions?

Harry’s comments have been a media failing for the military, diplomacy and his supporters here in the UK. As Rob Crilly pointed out in his recent Telegraph article, the fight against insurgents will be “as much about PR salvoes as it is about rockets and bullets”. Flippant comments have handed extremists a propaganda prize that will have a far more enduring sting than the inconvenience of the media junket.

Changing Narratives and the Death of Osama Bin Laden

The ever-changing narratives surrounding the ritualistic slaying of Osama Bin Laden has spewed up a slew of conundrums. It should also teach publicists valuable lessons about the pitfalls of a contemporary story engine, brand messaging turned cariacature and the conditions of the modern news mill.

Instinctively, a good publicist understands how to engineer a simple brand story. This propels both new and traditional media forward, generating the power of positive word of mouth. If the elevator pitch is too complex, return to the drawing board.

These past principles have been reframed by the lustful media’s desire to break a story. This, allied with a compelling need to be ‘the’ authority’s voice coerces the media to be less concerned about accuracy and truth. Why kill a news thread if the desire is apparent? “Truth? Well OK, but the story is just too good to ignore!”

The Mission to destroy Bin Laden was infused with the spirit of The Searchers and thickly layered with the best bits from Call of Duty, Black Ops and 24. I swear Jack Bauer lead the mission. Read the rest of this entry »

Putin on the Ritz: PR Russian Style

I went to the opening of The Expendables recently, in the mood for a little bit of escapism, and was bowled over by the crowd’s whooping, hollering love for Sly, Lundgren, Arnie, Bruce et al. There seemed to be more love than you could have ever expected for a formula, and a set of stars, who for the most part reached their peak in 1985, at the height of Reagan’s presidency.

Looking at reports on the latest Vladimir Putin photoshoot, however, I realise that perhaps I should not have been so taken aback; this sort of macho posturing has never really gone away. Possibly these sorts of fashions travel the world in a kind of Mexican wave – in Russia right now, the macho image is the sure way to win the love of the electorate, while it looks ludicrous here. For now, at least.

Certainly it is easy to satirise Putin in the UK or America at the moment – when he poses like a hero from Call of Duty 4 or, in a bid to show a softer side, nuzzles up to his horse, he is playing to local tastes that look utterly ludicrous to a more cynical western European and American audience. Read the rest of this entry »