Poor Ariana Grande. She became the “hate” girl du jour earlier this month when she was captured on video in a California donut shop saying she hated America and Americans.
It’s important to remember that the pop singer, who was born in Florida in 1993, and is in fact, American, had no idea her image or voice were being recorded at the time of the incident. Grande was in the shop with a couple of friends, and her actions and words appear to have been recorded by a camera mounted behind the counter and perhaps not visible to customers.
She and a male companion appear to take turns licking, or pretending to lick, some donuts on a tray that was placed on the counter. When a worker comes into frame and tries to place another tray of donuts on the glass counter right in front of Grande she disgustedly remarks, “[WTF] is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.”
Although it happened in a public place, hers was not a public pronouncement but an off-the-cuff, reaction to a friend. Once released online, the video went viral. No surprise there.
The whole kerfuffle that ensued raises a number of important questions and observations:
First the observations:
- There is no privacy for anyone no matter where you are.
- Retail stores are recording your every move.
- If you’re famous, say nothing beyond please and thank you when out in public.
- In private, put your smartphone in another room and make any companions do the same if you intend to have a conversation or do anything you’d rather not have appear on the Web.
Now for the questions:
- Why did the donut shop release this video?
- What did they hope to gain?
- Do they hate Ariana Grande?
- Why were Grande and her male friend pretending to lick the donuts?
- If she’s so disgusted by the site of a tray of donuts, why was she in a donut shop in the first place?
The whole situation is a publicist’s nightmare. But then the tables turned. The Health Dept. in Riverside County investigated Wolfee Donuts for incorrectly placing trays of donuts on the counter where they could be tampered with.
But then, even the donut shop came out smelling sweet after this promotion.
Maybe there really isn’t any such thing as bad publicity.
Today’s release of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s second book following the American staple of literature To Kill a Mockingbird, signifies a landmark in a widely considered “dying” industry of book publishing. In the book world, this “new” novel is comparable to any hit summer blockbuster movie.
Underneath the fans’ passion lies a heap of controversy and ethical question marks. Among them are concerns over Harper Lee’s health and whether she actually agreed to publish this book, years after vowing to never publish again. Lots of Lee’s close friends point the finger at her lawyer, Tonja Carter, citing she’s taking advantage of Lee in her old age. In a savvy PR move, Carter provided her story in an op-ed to the Wall Street Jounal of how Watchman went from being stuck in a safety deposit box to being made available to millions of excited fans today.
The public may never know the true story behind Lee’s change of heart or if Carter is telling the truth, but we recognize a valiant effort by Carter to take control of her message in hopes to set the record straight.
With summer season upon us, it’s always a great time to catch up on a new book. Our colleagues are voraciously consuming new, non-fiction, best sellers and best-beloved books.
If you’re looking for a good book to while away the hours until Labor Day and beyond, you might find some inspiration here:
Kendra Peavy, General Manager, Director of Development
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf 2013)
Kendra says, “Americanah covers race, relationships and identity. It pulls you into the politically complex world of Nigeria at the turn of the 21st century and the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze. It takes an interesting approach to storytelling that is direct, but still descriptive. You feel the energy and emotion of the characters and fall in love with their process of discovery. My sister made the recommendation and gave me her copy of the book. She thought I’d enjoy it.”
Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer (Doubleday 2015)
Maryliz says, “Krakauer reports on a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana. He shares the stories of the victims, the accused and law enforcement in a beautiful narrative that brings to life this serious issue. This isn’t an ‘easy’ summer read but anything Krakauer writes is brilliant. He’s an amazing storyteller, even when he’s reporting on such a tough subject. He draws you in, makes you question everything and leaves you wanting more. This book was recommended for me on GoodReads.”
Theresa Piti, Office Manager
1Q84, Haruki Murakami (Knopf 2011)
From the cover blurb: “A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —‘Q is for ‘question mark.’”
Theresa says, “It’s a dual narrative story and as of yet, I’m not sure where it will converge. I’m a fan of Japanese fiction. A friend recommended it and off I went.”
Scott Berwitz, Vice President
Inferno, Dan Brown (Doubleday 2013)
Scott says the book involves “a famed Harvard professor who wakes up in a strange hospital after having survived an attempt on his life. He has to make sense of his predicament while being hunted down by his would-be killers – a task made ever more difficult by the short-term amnesia he suffers from the attack. What results is a fascinating journey through Florence and the underworld depicted in Dante’s Inferno. It’s sort of a cerebral thrill ride, a really exciting read. I’ve loved other books by this author such as, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.
Claire Higgins, Account Executive
The World According to Garp, John Irving (1978, republished 1999 by Ballantine)
This story chronicles the life of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of a feminist, following him from infancy through all the pivotal moments in his life. Claire says, “It’s very long, and a little long-winded, but John Irving is a favorite of mine so I had to pick it up and am determined to finish it. Once I hit the most climatic moment in the story, I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s very realistic, heartbreaking at times, and dryly and subtly funny, which I like. I liked John Irving after reading A Prayer for Owen Meany (William Morrow 1989), but both were recommended to me by my aunt and grandma. Irving is a fave of theirs, too.”
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is always a frenetic and fun week for DGC and the industry. It’s a unique opportunity to bring together creative minds across the world to celebrate terrific work, focus on challenges, and how to give back to the world. As we recover from a week of hard work, lack of sleep and amazing views, we wanted to share a few takeaways.
- Business happens when you least expect it. Always be prepared to talk shop, even when you’re walking from the Carlton to the Palais on the Croisette. You never know who you’ll run into and when the conversation will turn from the quality of the rosé to solving business challenges.
- Madison Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard are intersecting more now than ever before. Much of the short and long-form content that won Lions was on-par with short films and documentaries typically generated by Hollywood studios. Branding took a backseat to storytelling – with compelling content and incredible visuals. If you didn’t know you were at the Cannes Lions, you could easily have thought you were at the Cannes Film Festival. [insert this link http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en.html]
- Be Clear. Be Honest. Words taken from the session of healthy-cooking advocate Jamie Oliver rang true throughout the week. Consumers are now more than ever attracted to brand messages that are sincere and honest.
- Know your audience. It was clear throughout the week which speakers knew their audiences and which were speaking to serve their own agendas. Facebook executive Chris Cox gave an excellent presentation that spoke to the larger issues of cultural sensitivities in communications. In one of his many examples, Cox gave advice about brand messages in India–don’t use the word “password,” he said, because while that word is such a part of the day-to-day lives of Westerners, it is entirely meaningless even to English-speaking Indians. Knowing your audience and what they need from your brand has become increasingly crucial to gaining consumer receptivity.
- Strike the right balance of work and play. There’s plenty of work to be done at Cannes – handling the press, networking, going to sessions and identifying new trends, etc. Yet, time spent with your clients and colleagues – at dinner, at drinks, on a yacht, etc. – is just as important. Loosen up a bit and take a moment to get to know the people you partner with a bit better. You’ll find that a few days in the south of France can equal a year’s worth of relationship building in the States.
- Be a better global citizen. One of the themes that resonated throughout the week was that we need to use technology to be better citizens, a message that also came through in some of the work that won big at Cannes. From the ALS Bucket Challenge and Like A Girl to Twin Souls, it was all about being more compassionate and sympathetic to one another. Monica Lewinksy, Jamie Oliver and DDB’s Amir Kassaei all spoke to how we can use our skill-set to do good.
DDB Worldwide’s Chief Creative Officer, Amir Kasseai, gave a raw and personal speech that addressed the state of the advertising industry. Using an introspective lens, he brought attention to the fact that the industry has a tendency to forget about the real values and the real purpose: connecting with real people.
In a jaw-dropping presentation, Amir shared three short stories, each bringing to light how far the industry has strayed since its initial conception. There used to be a time when advertising had an impact on society, culture, music, etc. The industry has lost its focus.
Advertising is not about being the “chief asshole officer of some f**ing agency”, Amir said. It shouldn’t only be about awards. Winning an award only means you’re good at wining an award. He asked the audience when the last time someone’s child was truly excited to hear they won [insert any award here] and was met with laughter and applause. Because the truth of the matter is, advertising isn’t about that. It’s about truth, love, responsibility and purpose.
Amir ended the last session of Cannes Lions 2015 pleading with the audience (and industry as a whole) to remember their purpose, be honest with themselves, respect people and don’t waste talent doing things that are completely irrelevant – Do This or Die.
How and from whom is creativity generated? At the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, it may seem odd that something this fundamental is actually being asked.
Yet, in an industry where mathematicians, statisticians and engineers now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with art directors, answering that question is not as straightforward as one would think.
For the first time, Cannes Lions today unveiled its Lions Innovation event. Described as a “festival within a festival,” Lions Innovation is a two-day event where data, technology and creativity intersect. On its site, Cannes Lions describes itself as the industry’s “mirror” – acknowledging that “data and technology are driving creative solutions in ways never seen before.” It’s a theme that has permeated much of the week’s programming.
In fact, during a Microsoft/Fast company panel yesterday entitled “Creativity That Matters – How Brands and Agencies Drive Impact” Wendy Clark, President, Sparkling Brands & Strategic Marketing, Coca-Cola North America, said something that really struck a chord. Strategists – not artists – are developing the most incredible creative work. Panel participants, Kathleen Hall of Microsoft and Sophie Kelly of The Barbarian Group, were in full agreement as well.
Driving home the point, Audi’s Luca De Meo told a packed audience during his talk “The Moon. Land of Quattro,” that the most creative people play not just with words, but with numbers as well.
Today’s creativity comes from some unlikely places. From data. From technology. From strategy. In the past, that may have seemed more than a little counterintuitive. But at the 62nd Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, it’s becoming abundantly clear. Everyone in the industry – whatever their title – is a “Creative Director.”
Pharrell is “happy” by nature, not just because he wrote and sang the 2014 Oscar-nominated mega-hit but because, according to himself, he goes after what he wants. He truly embraces collaboration through creativity and is unafraid of working to get the creative mix of people he knows will win.
American TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest sat down with Pharrell at the Cannes Lions Festival on June 24 to talk about collaboration and creativity. Pharrell provided some crucial advice about bringing one’s “A” game to creative projects.
Here’s what we learned.
- Intention is essential. When Ryan asked Pharrell to give the young creatives in the audience advice, he emphasized “intention,” noting that if you are going to create something, make sure to “write some intention in there.” What is your intention for a given project? Intention should be the number one ingredient in everything that you do and, if it isn’t, consumers won’t buy into it.
- Multitasking is important. Multitasking allows you to diversify projects without “blurring the lines,” Pharrell said. It’s important to have your hand in different things to get the creative juices flowing. That said, you don’t want any crossover between your projects because it will keep them from being truly fresh and unique.
- Have a “second element.” A song isn’t great just because of the way it sounds, but because of the way that it makes you feel. Just like a movie with all great actors and no plot – you may think that you’re going to like it, but it fails by not providing consumers with the second dimension they need and crave.
- Creativity and commerce are related. Many people believe that you can’t have both, or that one relies on the other, but as Pharrell so simply put it, when you really concentrate on your creativity, it translates into commerce.
- Bottled delusion would sell millions. Pharrell noted that if you were able to bottle the delusion for greatness that many people have, it would be a wildly successful product. It’s like the people who genuinely believe they are good singers, but can’t sing a lick – it’s that sense of confidence and delusion that helps people succeed, in addition to providing a fantastic laugh.
- Adele is the master of intention.
- Tuesday, June 23, 3:30PM – 5PM: MediaLink & Adweek “Daily Dose” Programming with Ian Schafer of Deep Focus; Carlton Hotel; Sean Connery Suite 7th Floor
- Thursday, June 25,
- 2PM – 2:45PM: “Ogilvy & Inspire” Tham Khai Meng, Ogilvy & Monica Lewinsky. Grand Audi
- 2:30PM – 3:15PM: “Watson & The Future of Advertising” Saul Berman, IBM & Jerry Wind, Wharton. Experience Stage – Data Creativity
- 3:50PM – 4:20PM: “Solving the Marketer’s Latest Identity Crisis” David Jakubowski, Facebook & Julia Heiser, Live Nation NA Concerts. Inspiration Stage
- Friday, June 26 4:15PM – 5PM: “Do This Or Die” Amir Kassaei, CCO, DDB Worldwide. Debussy
There are three little words that, when improperly construed, can get an executive in a lot of trouble when talking to the media. What are they? “Off the record.”
Just exactly what does that mean? The phrase is one of the most misunderstood in journalism and is open to some degree of interpretation. As such, executives doing interviews with the press must make sure everyone at the table is crystal clear as to its meaning before any sensitive information is imparted.
The most popular definition is that it means the information a journalist is given in an interview cannot be included in the reporter’s article under any circumstances. The information is strictly for the journalist’s edification and for contextual purposes to help him/her understand the nuances of the story being reported. They can’t use it directly or indirectly. Period.
But not everyone agrees with that interpretation. Some reporters (and their editors) believe “off the record” means they can use the information as long as they don’t attribute it directly to the person who is giving it to them. In other circles, that definition falls under going “on background” with the reporter. And that opens another door that could be troublesome. If a reporter does use the information, exactly how is it attributed, and to whom?
Some reporters say “according to a source” while others might attribute the information to “a source with direct knowledge of the situation.” And that leads to another potential pitfall—what if only three or four people have “direct knowledge of the situation”? Then it becomes possible to narrow down the possible source, and that can lead to finger pointing among the people being covered in the story. And that can damage business relationships. Another scenario occurs when the information is attributed to “an agency source” or “a company source”? Again, that can lead to the source being narrowed down and more easily identified.
The best course of action is to make the rules of engagement perfectly clear from the outset. If at any point in the interview a reporter asks to go off the record, or if the person being interview decides it’s best to go off the record for whatever reason, make sure each party defines the term immediately. If it is agreed that the information can be used, then both parties also must decide exactly how it will be attributed.
One final, crucial tip–always remember that all these negotiations must take place before any delicate information is given to a journalist. It’s exceedingly bad form and totally unfair to give a reporter an important piece of information and then tell him/her it’s off the record after the fact. That’s not the way the game is played and it’s the mark of a rank amateur.
There’s much the corporate world could learn from Bruce Jenner about public relations and how to take control of a difficult and potentially embarrassing situation.
For months, media speculation on what was really going on with him since his break up with Kris Jenner, the grand doyenne of the Kardashian media/business/gossip dynasty, was on overload – most of it trivial. “Bruce Jenner Gets French Manicure, Wears Diamond Earrings on Outing,” said one headline. Another publication photo-shopped lipstick, curled hair and a silk scarf on a picture of him. Bruce’s story was something deep-rooted and real – not just for him but for many others who identified with his struggles. Yet, the media portrayed his changing appearance as little more than a simple gossip item…no different than any number of small, unimportant nuggets emanating from the family’s reality empire.
Rather than remain silent, Jenner took control of his narrative and granted a two-hour interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that aired on national television and was seen by more than 20 million viewers. He talked of his personal struggles with gender identity in genuine and raw terms and in so doing he shifted the dialogue away from the sophomoric gossip that filled the tabloids for months into an adult conversation. The national discussion was now about transgender issues that the mainstream media covered with thoughtful pieces on Jenner’s personal journey and its broader implication for others facing similar challenges. His family came out in support of him. He quashed speculation of this being a publicity stunt. Even the rest of the Kardashian clan – typically known for empty, brain-candy nonsense – came out looking sympathetic, progressive and supportive. That’s no mean feat.
Through honest, direct dialogue, Jenner changed his media narrative in a single interview. He did it by being honest and transparent and answering tough questions truthfully and sincerely. The business world would do well to take heed and act accordingly.