An insider’s eye on the murky, surprising, funny and sometimes shocking history of the fame industry

Fame Formula Update

Mark My Words » The Queen is dead, long live the Queen – Who needs PR?

Posted 23 hours ago

Rebekah Brooks is back. To use Robert Thompson’s words: “Rebekah will lead a great team at News UK into the digital future, while maximising the influence and reach of our newspapers, which remain the most informative and successful in Britain and beyond”…blah blah blah. Michael Wolff, the American author of a biography of Mr Murdoch called The Man Who Owns the News, said that the UK had gone to war with the media mogul and “the UK lost.” Media land clamour suggests that the appointment represents a terrible PR move, but perhaps the hyper babble circulating on all channels misses an important issue encapsulated in the return of Brooks. Take a step back and consider a subtler point about negative perceptions and bad PR. So indignant was a Daily Mail reporter that the 89-year old Harper Lee was being thrust into the spotlight that she barged her way into a … [Link]

Mark My Words » McFlop

Posted 10 days ago

The sea turns to blood. The sun scorches the earth. The seven seals open. The Whopper and the Big Mac unite. Such is the vision of cataclysmic world destruction prompted by this cynical invitation to McDonald’s to join forces with Burger King in aid of, erm, world peace day. The McWhopper advertisement ran in the New York Times and was followed by the launch of a website featuring the dubious contents of each signature sandwich floating down screen like a slow-mo sequence in the Matrix. Perhaps this is because there is something of the dystopian simulation to Burger King’s whole approach to reality. To follow the logic of the invitation, if McDonald’s reject the olive branch they are effectively bellicose meanies. Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, didn’t bite, and instead loaded his silos: “the business rivalry between the companies shouldn’t be equated to the real pain and suffering of war”. The … [Link]

Mark My Words » Moral Hazard

Posted 3 weeks ago

They haven’t won their four warm up games. They lost the community shield to their arch-rivals. And the start of the season was a less than spectacular draw with Swansea. Yet the only thing we’ve been talking about is José Mourinho’s spat with a doctor. In one word: result. In the week leading up to Sunday’s Man City clash –the only club incidentally, that Chelsea lost to in Mourinho’s first League victory – we haven’t been focusing on Chelsea’s lacklustre performance or the red card blow to £8m summer signing Thibaut Courtois. Shielded by the back pages intrigue on the rights and wrongs of Mourinho’s treatment of Eva Carneiro the blues have been afforded a week to train in relative obscurity. No doubt the interruption to the last 90 seconds was irritating. Eden Hazard’s apparent injury was clearly, at least to José, the result of exhaustion rather than serious damage … [Link]

Mark My Words » Clubbed to death?

Posted 4 weeks ago

Why Millennials are no longer going to nightclubs. Mark gives his thoughts in today’s Independent [Link]

Mark My Words » The Cumber-down

Posted 4 weeks ago

“I’m going to try my hardest not to scream the minute he walks on stage” revealed one of the many Benedict Cumberbatch superfans to a WSJ reporter at last night’s first performance of Hamlet. I’m sure the Gielgubitches said the same back in ’48. Despite the worries that a legion of hysterical Cumberfans would have to be transferred to the nearest nunnery before the end of act one, the audience were by all reports eminently well behaved. It was the press, however, that broke all the rules of reviewing etiquette. Rather than waiting to press night a number of nationals sent their star columnists (who cares if they’re not really critics!) to the Barbican to get the inside scoop. What we got wasn’t so much reviewing as page 3 gossip from your Elsinore correspondent. Ranging from The Times’s two star slating (“Alas poor, Benedict”) to the Mail’s five (“electrifying”) we’re … [Link]

Mark My Words » The meaning of Cecil

Posted 5 weeks ago

Cecil was not a lucky lion. First being named after the unreformed imperialist who invented the concentration camp; then to be slowly killed, skinned and decapitated; and finally, to become a meme of the moment and plundered worldwide –from stuffed toy makers to press offices groping for a current analogy. (See Patrick Kidd’s skewering of a recent press release that exploits various Cecil metaphors to sell a story about renewable energy. PRs, Kidd concludes, “have no pride anymore. Like Cecil”.) What are we to make of all the furore (not to mention the furoar of bad puns that quickly followed)? I posit three things that we’ve learned from Cecil. They come from nowhere Cecil strutted his last hakuna matata when he crossed paths with a bespectacled dentist from Minnesota. It was not as nature intended. Nearly a month later Walter Palmer was unprepared for the barrage of bile headed his … [Link]

Mark My Words » Mudslinging on twitter

Posted 6 weeks ago

She is considered the most influential female rapper of all time. He is has less sheen than a dog-eared copy of The Ragged Trouser Philanthropists. But it turns out that Nicki Minaj and the Labour leader hopeful Jeremy Corbyn have one thing in common. Both have shown this week that twitter thrives on good old mudslinging. For Minaj it was personal. What started with a tweet about the exclusion of her video from the VMAs turned into a frosty exchange that dangled racial and gender issues above a fan-charged pressure cooker. The intervention of Taylor Swift demonstrated the ego of she-who-brought-Apple-to-its-knees, and PoVs offered from Katy Perry to Piers Morgan ensured that this (non)issue spread out from social to old media – and back again. But despite invoking sensitive themes the end result was a mélange of misunderstanding. Rather than functioning as a forum for exploring points of view twitter … [Link]

Mark My Words » So Farah, not so good Freuds

Posted 6 weeks ago

The agency faces a formidable challenge fighting the wildfire of speculation surrounding the Olympic athlete since a Panorama investigation was aired. Read the opening paragraphs of athlete Mo Farah’s Wikipedia page and you’ll be confronted bya roll call of records sufficient to fill the sports category of several Trivial Pursuit decks. But amid the distances smashed and gongs awarded the only section of the page that matters now is a four-line paragraph headed ‘BBC Panorama investigation’. Having become ensnared in the doping speculation surrounding his coach Alberto Salazar, Farah has learned the only fact worth knowing for the hounded luminaries of our public life: forget the facts – the story is king. After further ‘revelations’ about missed drugs tests, Farah spent the past few weeks lying low and lagged behind the speculative race to “the truth”. In the post-Lance Armstrong world the only truth that papers want to print is … [Link]

Mark My Words » Cannes Lions – the sober reality

Posted 6 weeks ago

Sex and death. “Two things that come once in my lifetime,” quipped Woody Allen. At this year’s Cannes Lions both happened- and that was just on the Croisette. The fatal car accident involving a Google executive and Twitter’s gleeful smuttering over a couple caught eloping on the red carpet after one too many melon balls overshadowed much of the creative powwow that is this Mad Men sur-la-mer. Rather than appealing to Woody’s aforementioned corporeals, many of the wares on display aspired to a higher kind of social purpose. To follow the festival on twitter is to be removed from the backslapping delirium and to experience the hype–from the highfalutin to the just plain stupid- through a glass empty. From a Bedouin-chic tent off the promenade a tweet proclaiming that brands can make the world a better place and agencies can inspire social movements might make sense. To rest of the … [Link]