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

Fame Formula Update

Mark My Words » Super Bowl 50: from metonymic to moronic

Posted 2 hours ago

Normally a potato-faced jock saying he fancies a bud is not worth much thought. But the Super Bowl isn’t normal. Peyton Manning, fresh from leading the Denver Broncos to victory over Carolina, told CBS he’s going to “drink a lot of Budweiser tonight.”With one seemingly impromptu slip –followed by a less impromptu-seeming second- Anheuser-Busch, his chosen brew’s owners, clocked up over $10m in media exposure. Some were outraged. True to form, Piers Morgan elegantly took down Manning, labelling the quarterback a greedy pillock for hijacking his team’s victory to plug a product by a company in which his people have a significant stake. Others more generously disposed saw the namecheck as a knuckle-headed blip. Anheuser-Busch were quick off the mark to express their surprise at Manning’s mention, and so they should as paying for endorsements is out of bounds for alcohol companies. So entrenched is the mighty Bud in the … [Link]

Mark My Words » He’s still standing, others have moved on

Posted 5 days ago

Elton John hit all the right headlines yesterday in time for the release of his new album ‘Wonderful Crazy night’. However with Sir Elton’s piano practice at St Pancras Station spontaneity seems to the be the hardest word. From the Guardian to the Evening Standard, the papers dutifully danced to the tune of a generic press release. The location itself is by now an established platform for memorialisation our cultural titans. With tributes to Betjeman, Harry Potter’s Nine and Three quarters and now Sir Elton’s Yamaha there’s barely any room left for a functioning train station. The only variable that was beyond the control of Sir Elton’s stunt managers was the social media life of the event beyond the carefully choreographed crowd of onlookers (some even made up to resemble real people). The concert received over 1000 tweets yet none mentioned the album. At 68 years and now having released … [Link]

Mark My Words » #OscarsSoWhite: For Your Discrimination

Posted 12 days ago

Not a day goes by without someone new “weighing in” on the Oscars So White row. Yesterday it was Obama’s turn, today it’s mine. Say what you will about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but they know how to keep entertainment hacks busy. The diversity in opinions crowding for attention since the nominations were announced a fortnight ago has ranged from timely reflections on the state of the film industry to ignorant drivel (here’s looking at you Charlotte). What has been surprising isn’t the existence of blinkered prejudice in the entertainment world but the widespread expectation that the Oscars are meant to be representative in the first place. Rather, the world according to Oscar has always been more 50s country club than state of the nation. It believes male and female actors do different things and can’t possibly compete against one another. The tradesman’s entrance acting award … [Link]

Mark My Words » Blue Monday- sending out the right signals

Posted 3 weeks ago

It’s banal. It’s cynical. It lacks all credibility. Yet somehow Blue Monday has become an actual thing, a date that registers on our cultural calendar and even has its own Wikipedia page. This is the day, usually the third Monday in January that Psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall showed to be the most miserable day of the year. Beginning life as a press release by Sky Travel in 2005, the history of Blue Monday has been much discussed by PR watchers. Arnall’s research comes straight from the land of Lilliput. The good doctor purportedly sold his name to the agency that drafted the phoney study; his affiliated institution, Cardiff University, quickly distanced themselves from the pseudo research. Despite having scientific claims that make Sherlock’s mind palace look like robust cognitive psychology Blue Monday became a handy brandwagon. Then something strange happened. Year after year Blue Monday kept coming back, in increasingly … [Link]

Mark My Words » David Bowie – the reclusive master of self-promotion (The Drum)

Posted 4 weeks ago

It was this time three years ago when the release of a song sent shockwaves around the world, from Ibiza to the Norfolk broads. David Bowie marked his 66th birthday by giving his fans ‘Where are we now?’, a mysterious but somehow so familiar new single, his first in a decade… [Link]

Mark My Words » Lynton Crosby: a noble knight with a common PR touch

Posted 5 weeks ago

There is no worse PR for the establishment than to be seen to be awarding good PR, but Conservative campaign guru Lynton Crosby’s knighthood is a vindication of his world-class talents, writes Mark in PR Week. [Link]

Mark My Words » PR in 2015: The Trouble with Authenticity

Posted 6 weeks ago

In 2015 we all loved authenticity, right? The ‘New Politics’ engaged and enraged in equal measure. Cannes Lions was all about purposeful brands. FleishmanHillard launched a new product to help companies drive an authenticity agenda. Whether you’re a boutique dentist or selling bleach being human was at the centre of everyone’s comms strategy.For PR this has been a troubling pill to swallow. Authenticity is not doing PR Beyoncé, rated as 2015’s most powerful female musician, hasn’t given an interview since 2013. Harper Lee, who wrote this year’s fast selling book Go Set A Watchman, hasn’t gone public for nearly 50 years. Closer to home, the face (and facial hair) of Authenticity Politics Jeremy Corbyn is rewriting the rulebook by shunning headline interviews on Today and Marr in favour of ragtag rallies and vegetable shows. For him being unPRable was the crucial aspect to his rise. These examples show how the … [Link]

Mark My Words » Parting Shots (The Drum)

Posted 7 weeks ago

As Sir Elton John and his publicist say their goodbyes, I ask if the role of PR is underrated. [Link]

Mark My Words » Donald Trump: The Dame of Panto Politics

Posted 9 weeks ago

Donald Trump is a festive panto that has gone on past its season. He struts from podium to studio with the self-sacrificing gall of a celeb foregoing Beverly Hills for a stint of Mother Goose at a dreary middle England theatre. With each of his bombastic interventions there’s always the sense that he’s disappointed we aren’t more grateful. Long the Dame of US public life, Widow Trumpy’s political jaunt has this time cast him in a villainous role. His outlandish proclamations, from dog whistle discrimination to wolf whistle chauvinism, are choreographed to cue the hissing awwwws of liberal foes. In the wake of his proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the US, he’s managed to get his natural sympathisers running from the stage. Banning Trump from entering the UK (and positively wrecking his plans to come see Marcus Brigstocke’s take on Captain Hook) is a gesture that fails to … [Link]