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

Fame Formula Update

Mark My Words » How does it look?

Posted 9 days ago

For Thomas Cook accepting responsibility was a last resort– but it will survive If tackling the greatest ecological catastrophe of recent times with golf balls failed to reassure the US public the pronouncement by BP’s aloof chief exec Tony Hayward that he wanted his life back is the definition of insult to injury. This moment encapsulates the less than slick handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a PR blowout that has become one of the canonical texts of crisis mismanagement. Accidents happen. But as Deepwater showed the fact that they are unforeseeable does not excuse the need for the damage to be accounted for in a genuine manner. The heartfelt apology by the GermanWings executives to the families of those who died at the hands of a deranged pilot demonstrates the importance of being seen to be taking responsibility. What happened on-board flight 9525 could have happened to … [Link]

Mark My Words » The Tory in Shoreditch Clothing

Posted 14 days ago

Pondering the 1980s Stewart Lee observed that culture itself seemed to hate Thatcher. Musicians hated Thatcher. Comedians hated Thatcher. Writers hated Thatcher. There were even aliens from the future in 2000AD comic strips who hated Thatcher. And yet she still managed to get elected. Three times. On May 8th the left were again confronted by the gap between the professed beliefs of the cultural mood and ballot box choices. For the future-junkies of the PR world there are a number of lessons to be gleaned from the political class’s failure to read the crowd. While Cameron’s critics may not be the vituperative Maggie bashers of yesteryear Lionel Shriver writes of the persistence of scorn towards the blue voter. Picking up on a certain strand of Guardianista contempt for those who vote according to their tax band, Shriver is perhaps writing with a North London type in mind. But it’s a … [Link]

Mark My Words » What just happened?

Posted 21 days ago

If tweets were votes, Miliband would be installing his 8 ft monolith into the Rose Garden this afternoon. Even as they were haemorrhaging seats in Scotland, Labour were adding followers on twitter and making friends on facebook. In the last two weeks Miliband was averaging almost 2,000 new fans per day. His (over-)hyped interview with Russell Brand was watched more than a million times and #milifandom had definitively vanquished the #cameronette upstarts. When the commentators hailed #GE2015 as an election to be fought and won on social media they were at best only half right. Where in 2010 34% of the UK was on social media now the figure is over 50%. That this should translate into a significant force multiplier during the election doesn’t come as a surprise. This new front possibly broke through the traditional apathy of young voters – 71% of 18-24 year olds say social media … [Link]

Mark My Words » Don’t throw the burger out with the gherkin

Posted 21 days ago

As seen on The Guardian Who said juggernaut brands can’t self-reflex their muscles? On Wednesday McDonald’s supersized on nostalgia with the re-launch of the Hamburglar. It went viral. Twitter exploded with shares comparing the new fast food bandit to celebrities ranging from wrestlers to politicians. A far cry from the cheeky childish earlier incarnation –last seen in 2002- the new Hamburglar is somewhere between Hipster and Christian Gray. For a company that has been struggling to cope with fundamental shifts in the restaurant market this is an unexpected coup. Yet the response of the media press has been sniffy, accusing the campaign as being, like the menu, stuck in the past and rather creepy. Let’s not throw the burger out with the gherkin. Of course the revival reeks of self-cannibalism; but like all the great brands, McDonald’s can afford to play with its cult status. McDonald’s sales have fallen most … [Link]

Mark My Words » The writings on the wall

Posted 3 weeks ago

The more metaphors that are pinned to Labour’s 8ft pledge slab the more the original meaning of the limestone monolith has sunk into the bog of Baldrick ideas. The only positive that can be spun out of Ed’s stone is that it marks a rare moment of consensus across the political divide: on the right it’s the tombstone of Labour’s hope to be taken seriously and on the left it brings back memories of Kinnock’s election stunting triumphalism. If anything Ed’s stone is a monument to PR hubris. Like Ozymandias the campaign guru stands high and mighty; in an election ‘set in stone’ engagement has been tightly managed and spontaneity sucked dry. Standing in for trust -building we’ve had the gimmick – the budget responsibility locks and policy pledge mugs- and in the place of personality we’ve had stunts. The colossal wreck, to borrow Shelley’s phrase, of Edymandias points to … [Link]

Mark My Words » Spinning hearts and minds: The triumph of PR

Posted 4 weeks ago

Last night Question Time dissolved its usual audience of flustered halfwits and elected another to give Cameron, Miliband and Clegg a proper grilling. As the Guardian’s Owen Jones tweeted this was set up to make the politicians “fear the people”. For what felt like the first time in the election, the slick, tinted-windowed campaign machines were ground to a halt. Cameron, so used to trotting out his campaign lines, was clearly flustered to have an unimpressed questioner shoot down his forced defence of the NHS- “well you’re wrong”. Miliband gifted the crowd a visual metaphor with his slippery exit –a poor man’s Madonna moment choreographed for viral vining. And Clegg, for all his sympathetic charm, did no better than the other guys at convincing the audience why they should trust political promises. In an election campaign that has been dominated from the start by corporate PR, the issue of trust … [Link]

Mark My Words » The Marmite Pret-a-meter

Posted 5 weeks ago

It was only meant to be a retail report at the backend of the Tuesday Standard. But when Pret A Manger CEO Clive Schlee let slip that he has given his baristas the power to hand out free drinks or food to customers the interview became one of the paper’s most read stories. Over the next few days all the national papers were sending their reporters to flex their flirting muscles and imbibe some of the Pret Buzz. The story was picked up by a handful of regional papers and a few international titles (Washington Post, Wall Street Journal). On twitter happy customers are posting their freebies and google searches for Pret A Manger increased to its highest number since January 2012 when its first French outlet opened (google trends – see graphs). Over last 90 days Over last 7 days That the freebie scheme has been in operation for … [Link]

Mark My Words » Being Human

Posted 5 weeks ago

There is sure to be an intern at CCHQ whose Camfandom idea didn’t get much of a hearing at the Monday morning hangout. When the #Cameronettes did begin to trend on the coattails of the milifans it had as much organic credibility as a cheese string. It doesn’t matter whether the origin of this blue swooning is a genuine teenage Camfan- the whole thing reeked of a cheap knock-off to an already shallow original, a Here’say to milifandom’s S-Club. The brilliance behind milifandom is that it hooked humorous content into a narrative of defiance: a politically excluded group –young women- using social media to challenge the smears and fears of mainstream reporting on Ed. Whoever @twcuddleston is -17 year old hailing from true blue stock? A Blue Slate consultant? Grant Shapps?- once the moniker spread it was seized on by Labour HQ, who as of yesterday were managing media requests … [Link]

Mark My Words » Red Ed, Dull Dave and substance of personality

Posted 7 weeks ago

Ed Miliband doesn’t do “photo-op politics”; he stands for ideas and substance against the soundbites and style of the Tory brand. That combatting style in politics is its own kind of political style is nothing new. Remember Saatchi & Saatchi’s attempt to turn the former PM’s dour persona into an ironic vote winner, “Not flash, just Gordon”? Many commentators lament the focus on the party leader’s personality (or lack thereof) in British politics. We are not the US, they argue and proceed to imagine a golden age of voters sitting down in their studies with manifestos and a dog-eared Hansard. Brown and his successor both understand that personality matters in politics; it’s one of the few things that the electorate can judge for themselves without having to access reams of policy analysis. If we just considered policy the British public are being offered a real choice on May 7th. From … [Link]