2007 will go down in history as an extremely busy year for the humble spin meisters in mediaville. There were plenty of things to occupy the media that had a PR overtone, beginning with the meltdown over celebrity Big Brother’s racist poppadom gate which gave Channel 4 a lot to think about and threatened the reality show favourite’s future. Beckham, who is never far from the headlines, was either thrusting his golden balls for magazine shoots or taking his three ring circus to California when he joined LA Galaxy. The Beckham road show will continue to generate acres of publicity in 08. The biggest risk takers in 07 were surely the Spice Girls. Lured by the smell of cash, they invited the world’s media and the British tabloid hyenas to see them in Canada. It was no mean feat that they managed to turn the journalists around to appreciate their pop greatness– unlike the car crash that was Britney Spears, exploited by MTV for maximum effect as she crashed and burnt for column inches. She has no back room staff to propel her back to fame and fortune where as the Spice Girls have a team that have reengineered their fame. On the subject of negative spin, Heather Mills McCartney takes all the plaudits for her extraordinary outburst on morning TV, and her attempts to drive home her celebrity status by that ill fated photo call for her charity VIVA, providing one of the greatest sound bites for 07 that we should all drink rats’ milk to save the planet from global warming. There was no sign of public figures resigning after cock ups and public tumult; Ian Blair refused to take the pearl handled revolver after the Jean Charles De Menzes disaster, not wanting to resign but clinging on to his power. I suppose the crude head below the parapet / damage limitation exercise seems to have worked yet again. The efforts of the McCann family to use the media to keep their lost child Madeleine in the global eye has been nothing short of astonishing. Its had its ups and downs but without doubt it has been the talking point of 2007
The biggest winner of 2007 was David, pretty boy Cameron, written off mid way through the Summer and then while at a Tory party love fest, he bewitched the conference and media alike with an off the cuff speech – no notes or autocue – like some modern day Cicero. Overnight, he took the fight into Brown’s ring and pulled the rug from under the Prime Minister’s feet. The spin of the current Tories means that there are no plans or deals, just Cameron kissing like a butterfly and building a confident PR platform as the Labour government faces data loss crises and funding scandals. The genius of Cameron’s camp must be put down to the quiet puppeteer and PR mastermind, Steve Hilton. Hilton was a former employee of M&C Saatchi and had a hand in the infamous election ads of 1992 – the demonize poster campaign will still be fresh in most of our minds. He was responsible for Cameron’s touchy, feely initiatives from Polo shirts and tieless TV appearances. Every campaign needs a clever strategist and Steve Hilton gets my vote as the PR great of 2007.