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

Fame Formula Update

Mark My Words » Call of Duty propaganda is Goebbels for new age

Posted 6 days ago

For a split second I thought I was watching an episode of Homeland. The slaughter of the American journalist was styled with HD cameras using an arid backdrop straight from Breaking Bad. From the very beginning, Islamic State (IS) understood the culture they wanted to undermine and the need to create emotion among the crowd in doing so, and they are masterful at it. The past 24 hours has ushered in a new age for sadistic and sophisticated propaganda. In a Call of Duty era, the video employed the highest level of technical expertise, thought-through location and almost certainly an autocue to ensure the evil message had maximum impact. Then it was posted to YouTube with designs for viral circulation. This is not only a message to America, it’s a message to us all. These propagandists know exactly how to tell a story and leverage it at maximum speed across … [Link]

Mark My Words » So what exactly IS reputation?

Posted 8 days ago

We need to get used to the fact that these days there is no fixed mark on reputation. Along with the Buzzfeed generation comes the hint that the old media traditions fail, with short form memes feeding the wires, and less emphasis on the elongated and researched story. Brands and individuals must become comfortable with their imperfections and vulnerabilities because we have a crowd and a ‘can know anything’ psyche, where reputations are savaged in an instant and often with no grounding in reality. The emotion of the crowd gathers momentum and careers along gathering falsehoods before the accused has even woken up to the storm. Last week, as a prime example, Cliff Richard had his reputation blasted across the globe shockingly aided by both the police and the BBC, without giving him any chance to refute the action – a basic human right after all. The police are now … [Link]

Mark My Words » Scottish independence debate: ‘Salmond’s PR advisers should hold their heads in shame’

Posted 3 weeks ago

Two hours that could change Scotland in a big TV debate. It’s big stuff. But as I settled down to watch Tuesday’s referendum TV showdown, I was slightly apprehensive. Would it be the much hyped game changer? Could it really be that good? Did someone mention Don King? This time it’s Alex Salmond versus Alistair Darling – independence versus the Union. Would the wedding limo chauffeur thrash the golf club accountant? A game of PR – cat on cat action. The referendum facts are fixed; the herd understands the nuances of a now familiar script – EU border controls, currency and all that… Salmond is a consistent wily seasoned pugilist, a man who seems well prepared for the opportunity in whatever shape it arrives. Against Darling, the man with all the passion and charisma of an edition of Gardeners’ Question Time on a wet bank holiday weekend. Sadly, the media … [Link]

Mark My Words » “Only the dead have seen the end of war…”

Posted 3 weeks ago

They said it would be over by Christmas. But its horror was prolonged for four years, devouring a generation in suffering and slaughter. Anyway, I decided that today, on such a glorious summer day, I would make time for quiet reflection. Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. This short blog is my priority, fuelled by a desire to mull and consider as the world re-absorbs the magnitude of the outbreak of World War One. My focus is on two lost souls I am entwined with who perished in the hideous conflict, as the flaming winds of this gruesome war wreaked havoc, presiding over sacrifice loss and pain. The First World War is this year’s crucible for re-examining ourselves. Major events in history can feel like a disconnected typeset, words on a yellowing page of a dusty history … [Link]

Mark My Words » Common sense is NOT always so common.

Posted 4 weeks ago

So was it a case of hope over reality after all? Secret Cinema will go ahead finally with founder Fabian Riggall admitting that it was his determination to go ahead that was responsible for the catastrophic last minute cancellation. It’s a story that says a lot about leadership, decision making and business growth. Then also common sense and communications in a crisis. Let’s face it, things do go wrong. But Secret Cinema got it wrong, underestimating the passions of their audience and what they needed to hear. The question here is how do you deal with the responsibility that growth and ambition demands? First off, this world demands a concession to conversational instinct. The English language with all its fantastic elasticity can transform the humble apology into escapology. Beware of media confessions and how they are received and decoded by the public. Mistakes are attributed to ‘uncharacteristic hiccups’, or ‘rogue … [Link]

Mark My Words » What Lessons Can Brands Learn From The Brazilian World Cup fail?

Posted 5 weeks ago

Truman Capote once said “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.” Spare a thought for the poor Brazilian footballers. A mediocre team capsized on an ocean of hype. Into the darkness they go, licking their wounds after one of the greatest sporting humiliations. Like Icarus who dared to fly too near the sun, on wings of feathers and wax. How can they recover from this? The mighty Brazil, beaten so devastatingly and completely in front of the world. It was painful to watch from a distance but for a nation so invested in the World Cup and their glittering football heritage it was unbearable. This was the most tweeted about sporting event in history – with 35.6 million tweets posted during the agonising 90 minutes. There was quite literally nowhere to hide. The only thing the Brazilians can do now is be stoic. It was one night after … [Link]

Mark My Words » So you hate us? Who cares?

Posted 5 weeks ago

The age of the toxic brand has dawned. This has ushered in an array of “Marmite” brands and love them or hate them it doesn’t matter – they’re winning either way! The toxic companies are flourishing and no matter how many people despise them they keep on growing, fuelled by the horror stories we hear in the news. Take RYANAIR: People really do hate Ryanair: this February, for example, a mutiny was reported on one of their flights. Despite being grounded for several hours, passengers were refused food and drinks by staff. In the end, the customer service was so bad the passengers took matters in hand and called the police: Ryanair’s image problem is neatly summarised by Google auto-complete: Although its not just mutinies and Google Michael O’Leary has to worry about. Last year the airline was voted the number one worst brand by Which? magazine. According to … [Link]

Mark My Words » The truth about the Jeremy Clarkson row

Posted 5 weeks ago

Not to state the obvious but behaviour is vital. Yet it would appear that very few organisations or individuals understand how their behaviour is seen and felt – and that is all a ‘brand’ is. A feeling. Still the walls have finally fallen. Gone are the days when brands could spin their own story and behave as they pleased. This is a world defined by the crowd and they mind. If you want to succeed in this climate you have to do embrace two things. 1. You must understand what you look like to others. How you ‘package’ is vital. 2. You have to learn to love those haters! Take Jeremy Clarkson. A man resolutely himself, much loved and widely loathed – a child at heart with an independent streak who connects with all sorts of people, of all sorts of creeds across the globe and makes them laugh. But … [Link]

Mark My Words » Twitter: A Mythological Giant?

Posted 5 weeks ago

Twitter is now daily global phenomenon, fuelling everything from celebrity profiles to national revolutions. The media is obsessed with it, and everyone seems to be on it. But what is the real story behind the phenomenon? Since its launch in 2006, the number of Twitter users has soared. There are now 255m users of the site worldwide. Click Here for interactive enlargement As well as soaring it has also floated, opening on the US stock market last November at a staggering £11bn (which has since doubled). Twitter’s rise has even brought a previously mythological creature to life. Once thought to live under bridges, trolls now have a new home, and only ever spit their bile in 140 characters or less. But it’s not just old myths Twitter has brought to life. It has also managed to create one or two of its own. Like the dotcom bubble before it, the … [Link]