Today we have all kinds of interesting things for your enjoyment. First up: three ways to improve corporate America.
Advice: Take the fricking city bus for a few days. Sit next to the guy who smells funny, and reevaluate the half-mil you dropped on jet fuel last weekend for your trip to Nice.
NBC is a perfect example of this. At the start of the latest television season, Tina Fey was probably the most popular person in America. She was everywhere, even popping up on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Yet, despite Tina's popularity and no less than nine Emmy wins, no one watches her show -- 30 Rock. I mean, no one but us. Sorry Tina.
NBC could fix this in a heartbeat by thinking outside the box a little bit. Change the name of the show to "The Tina Fey Show" and watch the viewers pour in! Stop being scared of the obvious is our advice "30 Rock" is a cute inside joke for those of us who live in New York and walk by the ancient faux art deco building twice a week -- GE Is In The House -- but to Jane and Joe the Plumber (cough), it's just a dumb name that doesn't mean anything! And besides, it's got to be worth more than 30 rocks by now! -- Right?
You think I care it's your anything? No. The consumer wants something that is actually his -- and is derived of references to your sorry ass. And if you think this last piece of advice was crass, well, I got to say: Happy Birthday Richard!
In celebrity news, tape emerged this week of Christian Bale going ballistic on someone while filming the fourth Terminator flick.
Christian, your screaming voice is almost as absurd as your over-the-top Batman tones. I loved you as little Jamie in "Empire of the Sun," really I did, it was the first "video" I ever bought, and you've done a quite remarkable job making me forget Val Kilmer as the Dark Knight. Your bona fides speak for themselves at this point. After your latest outburst, though, I wonder why you think you need to do stupid things like this for PR purposes.
Why does Fox, I should add? Is it because A--h--nold is nowhere to be seen and shall we say, they're afraid?
Take it from me, viewers -- as a 95 year veteran (?) of the public relations game, I can assure you that this whole act was a PR stunt.
And yeah, it worked. It got Bale's name in the papers as the Oscar voters are in the midst of marking their ballots (hopefully for Heath Ledger), but it also served to brand Bale as a total ass. And it isn't working.
Next time, buddy, choose something a little more mainstream. Crash your Ferrari into a tree. Get photographed smoking weed. (Nice, Phelps.) Better yet, bud -- hire a killer PR firm.
In this week's "Orwellian Update," news comes this week that bank and credit card issuer American Express has been monitoring where its cardholders use their cards, and in some cases lowering credit limits and even canceling accounts based on the repayment patterns of other cardholders that shop at certain establishments.
Of course, AMEX now denies that a blacklist of establishments ever existed, despite documented cases where they *told* people they were reducing credit limits because of where they shopped.
Hey, AMEX -- you're the ones who screwed up here! Why did you give credit cards to people with questionable credit histories to start with? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that giving a five-thousand dollar line of credit to a person who makes twenty-five grand a year is a bad idea.
We do wonder, though -- what are some of the "flagged" stores?
Big box retailers? Nah.
Bookstores? Probably not.
Wait... they take credit cards? Which ones? Where?
AMEX -- we are watching you. You claim to be a bank, but we suspect you may actually be a floor wax.
Mr. Phelps, should you accept this job.... As the saying went in Mission Impossible...you better be up to it. That's my take, at least, on the toking by Michael Phelps.
I wrote about it in USA Today this week and got a lot of people upset because I said he needs to pay for what he did -- and I'm saying this from a PR person's prospective, period. (Another set of Ps.)
I'm not Michael Phelps (I can't even swim), but I do have experience working with the notorious who often make fools of themselves at our expense, often with impunity. And now after Kelloggs dropped him and the USA Swim Team turned him away Phelps has learned -- the hard way -- that being famous means being memorable. If you are idolized, then your character is admired. If your character goes bad, then you are simply fodder for late-night comics.
It's bad timing for the swimming Olympian. Today, more than anytime I can remember, we need heroes to make ourselves feel good. It is that freaking simple.
Maybe what Phelps did last fall was comical to some, pulling on a bong while wearing a backwards baseball cap, but I doubt parents thought so. I know a lot of parents and it's difficult enough to get them to like someone -- now they have to say "Well swim like him but don't act like him." I also know kids and they got few role models, and this one, with tens of millions of fans, should have known better than to waltz into anyone's house and start recreating that way.
Sports figures in YouTube America act like they're impenetrable, as if they can do what they want and after the "mea culpa" all will be forgiven. Like rock stars have always done. But being a real champion means that people regard you as superhuman. How does the nation come down from this lasting impression? And, more important, what about a kid who now thinks that drugs are cool after all?
I have spent years in PR telling self-important types who think they're hot shit to remember what that eye means: You are always being watched. It's the price of fame. I'm really surprised Phelps' handlers didn't do a "Scared Straight" tour for him of the famous through the years caught with their proverbial pants down.
Maybe there were too many of them to prove the point and it might make him reconsider going forward.
I say basta, suficiente. If sports celebrities can't take their statuses seriously, then they should be treated like any offender. If the facts are concrete and evidence is clear, young Michael Phelps should, just like Mike Tyson and Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson (yes, O.J.), be prosecuted to the fullest. Why not? You and I would if our picture was in the London tabloid doing what the Times calls a marijuana pipe hit. (Ho boy.)
I am not some fuddy-duddy acting prudish. I actually think pot is pretty fine. I just know that as a PR professional I can't stop shaking my head, thinking about Americans struggling to make ends meet and what they must think of a young multimillionaire like Phelps who can throw it all away with one toke.
Oh and thanks porn star Ron Jeremy with the huge shlong and gross face for calling me out on the little pages of USA Today's fabulous Op Ed page. I agree. He's not a rapist nor a killer. But he is an icon. And they fall real hard.
For more on sports stars, see chapter starting on page 53 in 2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade.
And expect a quiz
Not a permalink.
And finally, Word to the Wise, where I give you a word that isn't in the dictionary, and shoe-horn it into the lexicon forever. Today's word is SPLAM!
SPLAM is spam that makes you laugh. Generally, these are emails that are so absurd that your instant response is that little chuckle. Examples include inane double entendre (hose jokes) in emails about penile implants.
"Dude, did you see that SPLAM about Britney's hoo-hah? That was AWESOME!"
I'm Richard Laermer, and I am not SPLAMMING you. For more: Laermer.com.