Hilarious Hollywood PR anecdote number six: when a famous actress’s career was in the doldrums, her PR was asked “What’s gone wrong?” The PR said: “Obviously, the actor she’s dating is the wrong one”.
This was said in the 1930s, and – as usual – it’s still true today. We’re regularly inundated with stunning exclusives (with pics) relating to Robbie/Geri/Evans/Jordan/Hurley/Hugh/ celebrity couplings, plus the occasional S&M lap-dancer for the Theakstons amongst us who like to live life to the max.
Supposed sex amongst the stars is front-page stuff. Properly cued, it’ll promote a career, up the ante in negotiations with your label, enhance your box-office bankability, and drive sales of whatever kind of trash you happen to be peddling at that particular time.
Ulrika Jonsson is an accomplished operator, whose career has been built through sheer graft on this front, and a Kylie-esque ability to re-invent herself according to the tastes and needs of the day.
From PA at TVam, to a lowly debut as weather girl and on to the heights of Rear of the Year, new ladette, serial love victim, Shooting stars star and prime-time BBC Dog Eat Dog host, Ulrika has been a truly magnificent self-promotional performer. So has her PR. The Sven story is a touch of ruthless, opportunist magic.
There is no confirmation and no denial of the tale, leaving a vacuum for endless speculation.
Any normal punter harassed by newspaper allegations would clearly opt to batten down the hatches and disappear indoors. But Ulrika is not a normal punter, so on Saturday she managed a master-stroke of speculation-stoking PR, by nonchalantly heading off to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea play Man Utd, where – lordy lordy, just fancy that – Sven was also in attendance.
Of course, she was just fulfilling a longstanding engagement (I think the term is), although why people never cancel these longstanding engagements is a mystery to me.
Hmm. What are we to make of this little turn up for the books, heh? About 400 column inches, I’d say, from tabloid to broadsheet to TV to radio to web to the world and his wife and beyond.
Ulrika is milking this prize Fresian ’til the udders are raw, although it’s not immediately clear whether it’s with a specific intent (deal in the offing) or just to make sure that she’s the hottest hot name on every light entertainment producer’s must-have presenter list.
It was only after this neat little Chelsea number that Ulrika opted to duck out behind the walls of her mansion, handing the baton back to a bewildered Sven. So what about our cool Swedish cucumber? He had a long-standing engagement promoting Burton’s suits at a press conference.
Burton’s PRs, Ketcham Life, advised that it must go ahead, but that only sports reporters should be admitted. Ha! That’s stuffed the media! There’ll be no talk about Ulrika here! No way! We’re going to be focusing solely on pleated jackets, the turn-up, and wool/polyester percentages.
But Ketcham Life reckoned without the huge acumen of the media, who’d worked out a cunning plan of Baldrick complexity: namely (sources close to a major national newspaper editor tell me) sports reporters can think too. What audacious genius. No one could have seen their questions about Ulrika coming.
Sven had no advice or support: the FA was true to its name and did sweet FA.
As it was the reporters must have been giggling behind their hands as one after another after another (even John Inverdale got in on the act) framed the same questions in a different way. “Have the last few days been difficult? How are your stress levels? How will it effect the World Cup selection? Have you any complaints?”
No wonder the guy looked uncomfortable. Actually, I’d say for a total rookie, he came out of it dignity intact, but wiser heads might have advised him to break cover and go for it. Silence, and no facts, provokes whole volumes of fantasy.
Well, I can’t say I have a clue, except to note that (1) this one will run and run (because Ulrika wills it) until Sven gets proper advice and (2) if England lose in the World Cup, it won’t be the players’ fault, it’ll be Ulrika’s.
So whilst she’s playing the old PR game to perfection, she may have gone just one step too far by exploiting a situation in which the losers could be an entire nation. And what sporting hack will put up with that?
Of course, these laddy lads – and their many supporters – could end up as Sven’s big friends. After all, lad culture is not entirely unconnected with footie, and, well, phwoor, good on you mate, I wouldn’t mind a bit of that.
This will doubtless have occurred to the die-hard feminist sympathisers from the football press, whose admiration for totty and desire for World Cup victory may well convince them to back off and resume the hero worship, double quick.
Take my advice, Sven. By which I mean, come and see me and you can have it for free. (After all, what self-respecting publicist would turn down the chance of grabbing a few headlines for himself as saviour of the nation?)
Finally: an interesting footnote is that it’s alleged that it was Alastair Campbell who introduced Ulrika to Sven at a charity event. We can forgive and forget all that political spin. But if it turns out that he’s going to be instrumental in the collapse of the England team, he’s going to be out on his ear faster than you can say storm in a career-promoting tea-cup.