Posts Tagged ‘mark borkowski’

How Nigella will survive the wheels of fortune

The sorry tale of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi should teach us some valuable lessons about the climate we operate in these days as businesses and brands. In this story we have a clear example of how a 24/7 news agenda fuels turbo charged and emotional reactions from the crowd – #teamnigella – and enough sympathy (for now at least) to skew any real perspective.

Not only that, but we also see how quickly brands are able to react to the idea of being written off. A skill that is becoming increasingly valuable in the furnace of media opprobrium. Kate Moss, BP, Ryan Air, Elton John, Virgin Trains and Twitter are all example of “brands” who have recovered from attack and moved on. The vicissitudes of the age did not crush these mass market icons. Why?

Well we are a “transmissive” society. Consumers don’t look up from the mesmeric power of their devices, so many are onto the next brand or story after they have erroneously dismissed the brand in trouble. In other words, we actually don’t enter into a dialogue. We don’t look up. We fail to discriminate in the moment as we digest the mass of information. This lack of consideration and reflection results in the transmission of undigested information. It’s a never ending circle for a moment or two. Then momentum changes…


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Adore the haters

Last week, the PR buzz was all around Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary and his uncharacteristic mea culpa. This week, another combative consumer brand is filling up feeds across the globe: Miley Cyrus and her encounter with some of Amsterdam’s finest.

Cyrus’s ‘outrageous’ awards ceremony performances are fast becoming a fixture in our lives. Regular, horrifying and compelling, they scratch an itch that some cultures tended to with a vestal virgin, a serrated knife and some geometric architecture. It seems as if Cyrus doesn’t do something a bit ‘youth culture’ every week, usually at a three-letter award ceremony you’ve never heard of before, the sun will cease to rise. This time, for those pretending they don’t read MailOnline, she lit up what appeared to be a joint during a performance at the EMAs on Sunday.

Props to the pixies behind her – it was well thought through. Where twerking with Robin Thicke was calculated to rile up the world’s lefties, this latest stunt taps into the grand old tradition of fuddy-duddy moral panic. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Twerking’ by any other name… Presenting: the most famous star the world has ever seen. Again!

The marketing and exploitation of the female image as part of the fame trajectory – for good or for evil – has a very long tradition. I first encountered the detail of helpless blind-ambition of fame-hungry starlets, whilst researching my book the Fame Formula. The manipulative craft of the publicist can be detected in the shadowy recesses of the fame factory. Recently, the chatterati have been teeming around the various permutations of the Miley Cyrus ‘scandal’ and resulting stories for weeks, like it is something new. It isn’t.

Although individuals ranging from Sinead O’Connor to Charlotte Church have taken the story as an opportunity to highlight injustices in the music industry, the use of sexualised imagery to promote artists and celebrities is not an invention of the post-Free Love era. Read the rest of this entry »

Whether it’s Roald Dahl’s or Mine, Let’s Call a Shed a Shed

Sophie Dahl had the commentariat in a flap yesterday following her request on the Today programme for half a million quid to refurbish and move her much beloved Grandad’s near-collapsing old writing shed to a new home. Seems a lot for one old prefab, especially since mine was only valued at about £100. Clearly some people need to get their priorities straight.writing shed
Allow me to explain. When I was a kid promoting Danny the Champion of the World, I got the chance to go and meet Mr Dahl in his legendary writing space. It was indeed pretty magical; here was a guy dreaming up some of the most enduring flights of fancy of the last century, all thanks to his splendid isolationism in his own little brick and polystyrene kingdom. Apparently he liked an early evening G&T or two to be brought to him there, too. In short, it was an admirable way of living.

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Absolutely Fatuous: The Ravages of Misdirected Satire

It’s pretty ironic that the proposed return of Absolutely Fabulous this Christmas has been getting so much attention. With the stars splashed all over the culture media and some big news stories, anyone familiar with the industry can spotpatsy and edina the tell-tale signs of a hardworking publicist beavering away. Yet this presumably highly professional and efficient team is working unwittingly toward branding individuals working in PR as exactly the opposite. After all, this is the show which-arguably more than any other- has damaged the public perception of the PR industry.

Of course, the real PR world would make a pretty poor comedy. Sure, it’s on one level a creative industry, and there are moments of brilliance (as well as the odd rambunctious, explosive event, one or two of which I’ll admit to orchestrating). However, there’s a good deal of daily grind- the PR consultant’s agenda is laden with stress, and often driven by trickier clients who expect the earth, want it right away and then demand precise figures to confirm its existence.

Needless to say, if I turned up to a lunch with one of my corporate clients clutching a Stolly Bolly, sporting a beehive and spouting a series of irritating catchphrases, I’d not long keep the account. Though I’m sure I’d look pretty marvellous.

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Dishing the Dirt at Peachy Coochie

Anyone wanting to know a little more about the dark practices of Hollywood in the early days of the 20th century should come along to Peachy Coochie at the Toynbee Hall at 7.30 p.m. this Thursday, October 28th, where I will be revealing more about Maynard Nottage, one of the publicists featured in The Fame Formula.

I will be outing some of Nottage’s darker and more dubious practices, some of which didn’t appear in the book, and illustrating who it affected and how. It will take in ambitious actresses, pornography from the Roaring 20′s, carnival freaks, forgotten Hollywood B listers and even a water-skiing lion.

For anyone who doesn’t know what Peachy Coochie is, it’s a night of lectures, each of which take just over six minutes. Each lecture comes with 20 slides and the speaker discusses each slide for 20 seconds. A Peachy Coochie night will inject information right into your brain so painlessly that you don’t even realise you’ve learned something. Read the rest of this entry »

Captivating Edinburgh

I’ll be examining the manipulative new age of PR and social media, and how the herd is motivated to reshape our lives, in Edinburgh next week. My lecture is one of the key events in the inaugural Edinburgh International Marketing Festival on Tuesday 24th August at 17.30 and the lecture aims to reveal exactly how important PR 2.0 can be – and to stir the hornet’s nest a little.

In the brave new world run to the tune of the ten minute news cycle, where traditional media has been reduced to merely commenting on and affirming stories that are broken on Twitter and in the blogosphere, almost at the speed of thought, and where advertising budgets have been slashed down to the stump, what else is there but PR? Read the rest of this entry »

BBC Pay Policy

There’s an article up on the BBC’s new pay policy on the Independent, featuring comment from myself and Max Clifford. There’s an extract below, but to read the full article, click here.

“…if a new era of transparency throws light on the secretive deals struck in the boardrooms of the BBC, insiders warned of dramatic changes to the way it does business that could set it on a collision course with its stars and their agents.

“‘There would be an absolute feeding frenzy,’ says Mark Borkowski, the entertainment industry publicist and founder of Borkowski PR. ‘It would spark a war between the media and celebrities over the amount the BBC pays and suddenly agents will need to convince the media their guy has value.’”

Advertising and Prohibition

There’s growing concern, and a fair amount of hand wringing, about alcohol advertising and the possibility of banning it. It looks like the glory days of inventive, witty and satirical booze advertising may be over for good. This would be very, very sad. Ban them and yes, you’ll get column inches. Keep them and you’ll bring thousands of people joy.

There have been some hugely influential, wonderful and funny booze adverts over the years – just think of the often-surreal Guinness campaigns, or of Carling and Heineken’s best efforts. It would be a terrible shame to lose these creative campaigns and some of the minds behind them to a health and safety-regulated puritanical streak. Read the rest of this entry »

Aid Ships, Oil Slicks and PR Wars

The confidence and utter belief in the State of Israel the Israeli government have displayed, as they justify their violent attack on the ships attempting to bring aid to Gaza, is breathtaking. Both factions in any war tend towards insanity of some sort, but Israel organise theirs with terrifying rigour.

They have an enormous number of silent supporters waging their PR war for them, and some not-so-silent ones. Take the NeoCon pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz, for example. After the Gulf War, he advised American Jewish leaders to incorporate mention of Iraq into every mention made of Israel because “Saddam will remain a powerful symbol of terror to Americans for a long time to come. A pro-Israeli expression of solidarity with the American people in their successful effort to remove Saddam will be appreciated.”

Israel has a global network of people helping them ride any PR storm. There is always a PR storm and they always seem to ride it. After Gaza residents, in the wake of the Haiti disaster, started a well-documented campaign to send money to Haiti because they were ‘in the same state’, a number of bloggers reporting this were attacked and, in some cases, silenced. Read the rest of this entry »