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Auntie_Em's avatar

What is the worst Public Relations marketing scheme you have ever come across?

Asked by Auntie_Em (186points) July 27th, 2010

This industry of marketing people and products is not always pure and straight forward. I understand things can get exaggerated or mistruths and/or misrepresentations can occur in the name of getting noticed in the public eye. Lives and reputations can get damaged because the competition can get tough for the money and the success involved in being a “good” PR consultant. What’s the worst public relations campaign you have ever come across and how did you find out that it wasn’t necessarily “the truth”? p.s. And I’m not just talking celebrity PR.

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21 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

“We will get this done. We will get this right.” FORMER BP CEO, Tony Hayward

Scooby's avatar

In the UK two words sum it all up! :-/

Gordon Brown.

syz's avatar

Have a happy period!

There is absolutely, positively, no such thing as a happy period.

And the stupid ads that apparently think we want to look at toilet paper stuck to the asses of animated bears.

And the stupid jewelry ad that has the wife cringing in fear and flinging herself into the husband’s arms because of a lightening bolt (“I’ve got you”) – I want to slap the bitch!

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Likeradar's avatar

This (NSFW) is a completely ridiculous, unsexy advertising campaign. UGH!

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

This might or might not count. But, in the last few days of my local Movie Gallery’s closing. I saw that there were Blockbuster pamphlets at the checkout counter. I thought it was because of the new dollar rental machine they put up in the close by Safeway. Turns out that Blockbuster paid the liqudating company to let them advertise as the stores were closing down. That’s just crappy.

chyna's avatar

@syz Oh thank goodnes! That lightening bolt commercial is so freaking annoying, I want to slap the bitch too.
I also hate the yogirt commercial where the woman is licking it out of the container, then swirls her finger in the container to get every drop, because “it’s only 80 calories”.

kevbo's avatar

It’s the best or worst, depending upon one’s point of view, but it I think the most pervasive is the use of public relations in “managing” democracy and TPTB putting their chips on targeting the irrational side of man’s consciousness as opposed to appealing to the better angels of our nature.

On a less consequential level, I just learned about subliminals in print advertising—such as commonly embedding the word “sex” in the background elements of product advertisements (spelled out in smoke, trees, etc or by creating a highly transparent photoshop layer over a model’s skin). I also found a Philly Cream Cheese ad that suggested as a “unique recipe idea” adding some Philly Cream Cheese to spaghetti sauce. Their current tag line is “Spread a Little [blank],” and the ad copy said in two different fonts (represented crudely below):

Spread a little

tongue waggin’.

So, ladies, take notice that using Philly cream cheese will get you some cunnilingus.

chyna's avatar

@kevbo On my way to the store now.

anartist's avatar

Get a Woody, the Internet Pecker! Panasonic
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JLeslie's avatar

Supposedly when Gerber baby food went into some African countries they did not do enough research and to the Africans the picture of the Gerber baby on the packaging meant the food inside was baby. It did not sell well.

We all know the car NOVA was a problem in Spanish speaking countries, ebacuse it mean no go in Spanish.

Got milk was very successful in the US, and so when they translated to Spanish for Spanish markets the person translating must ahve been an American born Hispanic man probably who literally translated “tienes leche” which to many women means primarily are you lactating.

When I worked at Bloomingdale’s they developed a new logo for their mens sportswear line East Island. It was basically a target. When we called up to say, “what are you doing using a target, which is associated with a lower end store?” Their reply was, “what is Target?’ NYC did not have one, the buyers in NY had never heard of Target, and never bothered to ask the branch stores their opinions. In the end most of the garments were marked down to sell them, and a new logo was created.

mrentropy's avatar

@JLeslie Gerber Baby
Chevy Nova

I first saw something similar to the “Have a Happy Period” on an episode of Red Dwarf. Which is a comedy. I was surprised when I saw a real commercial using it.

MagsRags's avatar

The WKRP IN Cincinnati Thanksgiving episode
“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly..”

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JLeslie's avatar

@mrentropy Thanks for those links. I was wondering about the Gerber story, which is why I said supposedly; I never knew if it was a true story or not.

I guess Nova is just a funny thing, but did not affect car sales in reality.

I guess those stories are like the Nordstrom story of someone returning tires, and how that store will take anything back. A false story that pissed off a lot of us retail people when it caught on.

The Bloomingdale’s story is a 100% true, because it was my coworker and I who made the phone call to the buying office.

Nullo's avatar

You may never hear about the very worst PR schemes, since their purpose is to get publicity. A bad one won’t draw any notice. A really bad one will draw all the wrong kinds of attention, but it is possible to recover from one of those.

Most of the stuff that Barry’s press people did really irritated me. Like when they took Air Force One up over New York for some publicity photos – without telling anyone (you’re supposed to alert local officials before you do anything terribly public) – and panicked a few thousand people, who thought that it was another 9/11.

mrentropy's avatar

@JLeslie Whenever you’re in doubt, check out Snopes :) It’s stopped me from getting a lot of spam emails.

anartist's avatar

But Nordstrom WILL take anything back. I treated myself to my first pair of Ferragamo sandals some years back and it was months before I had an activity dressy enough to wear them to. I wore them only to find out that they hurt terribly and when I got home I found a little blood on the heel strap. I put them away sadly thinking I would try to stretch them or something since I couldn’t return them. A half-year later, a friend said in passing that Nordstrom took shoes back no matter what. I told her they’d never take mine back. She said ‘try them.’ so I did—and after a little bit of checking to prove I actually did buy them there and not at salvation Army…they took them back! Unfortunately I waited so long I couldn’t get the same shoe in a bigger size but had to settle for the cash.
And the shoes became part of Nordstrom’s donation to Salvation Army.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist The tire story is that they took back tires when Nordstroms does not even sell tires. The story has changed and been told with many different slants. Nordstroms does take back what they sell.

In Bloomingdale’s we have a story we tell for Customer Service training. A woman tries to return a pair of gloves. The sales person sees that it has a Sack’s tag inside, and says she cannot take them back. The customer tells the salesperson she only shops in Bloomies, knows she must have purchased them there. They go back and forth a little and finally the salesperson pages a manager. The Manager immediately recognizes the customer, knows she spends a lot of money in the store and is a valued customer. Upon hearing the story the manager takes the time to look at several pairs of the same glove, and indeed some are tagged Sack’s, the manufacturer must have mis-shipped the order. The customer was right, and we should always err on the side of the customer.

mrentropy's avatar

The Channel Home Center (like Rickel’s, or a smaller Home Depot) I used to work at would take anything back, as long as we carried it.

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