Hungary for publicity?
I might be wrong, but could the BBC’s Robin Hood tapes in Budapest be just the latest bid to steal column inches during the silly season?
Silly season has come late this year. Although the sunscreen has been packed away the real business of daily newspapers has been drawn like a moth to a flame to an extraordinary plague of prefabricated silly season corkers.
OK, so I might be a cynical old publicist, but has anybody checked the crime scene on the set of Robin Hood in Hungary? Shock horror the Beeb/Tiger Aspect look like they are likely to be held to ransom by a ruthless gang of east European Tony Soprano lookalikes, who have stolen the footage of the recently filmed new season blockbuster Robin Hood.
Dusting down the old Hollywood stunts handbook, you will find more than one chapter on theft in pursuit of column inches. Various performers over the decades have had scripts and joke books stolen on the eve of something going live. I can remember the countless times when the media have been involved in tracking down lost props, foolishly left in the back of taxis, valuable stage furniture being trashed, all miraculously saved at the eleventh hour by a schoolboy from Pinner, who on careful investigation is a third cousin twice removed from the producer’s aunt.
I might be wrong here, but expect a miracle in Budapest and don’t try getting money on at the bookies for the lost footage turning up, saving the odd red face and gloating PR exec.
But don’t suppose the remake of an old stunt to culturally engineer free publicity is the only trick being reworked. I have just found the new successor to the old PR standby, the “prefabricated hook in the form of a survey”. We have, over the years, been bored rigid by top 10 movies, top 10 albums, screen idols, musicians and comedians; now we have something else. It’s the “bad day for” phenomenon. Personal finance and insurance companies (who previously have struggled to chisel a column inch) now get a tiny brand mention informing the media that today is the day that it’s going to be likely that you: “have an accident, throw a sickie, choose a holiday,” got it yet?. This morning the Telegraph ran a front page on “Today is the day when couples are most likely to divorce”… a fabulous study initiated by a website called Divorce Aid.
Many years ago the American PR god Jim Moran invented Cherry Pie Eating Day, for a forgotten food manufacturer. This resulted in 365 similar days celebrating a day to praise and use more: cigarettes, greetings cards, umbrellas, prophylactics, toothpicks and roadside diners. The phenomenon grew so immense a resourceful entrepreneur instigated a diary to coordinate all the PR companies that were commandeering each other’s days.
I suspect it will not be long before the 358 days left in our yearly cycle will be hijacked by clever public relations companies sinking VC cash into a statistical resource serving this new creativity, or maybe a new Tiger Aspect blockbuster.