All the world’s a stage

In his play, As You Like It, Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage and men and women are merely players. They have their exits and entrances … “ Cue the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea.

Olympics All the World's a Stage

Photo Courtesy of Twitter

For the medalists, there will be corporate sponsorships much like that of Max Factor’s waterproof makeup for America’s Olympic gold medal synchronized swimmers. And Milk who sponsored the fastest woman runner in the world, Olympian silver and gold medalist, FloJo. And countless others. Many of whom got professional Los Angeles media training before spokespersoning.

But for now, these “amateur” athletes are using the world’s stage and their roles on it to promote their own causes on social media.

Adam Rippon, the first openly gay U.S. male figure skater to qualify for the Olympics, has become what some are calling a “social media sensation.” He missed qualifying for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and was passed over for the Sochi Olympics in 2014 Olympics, but has emerged as a winner on many fronts in 2018.

Adam Rippon All the World's a Stage

Photo Courtesy of Elite Daily

Mr. Rippon, who thus far has helped Team USA men’s figure skating win a bronze, blasted the choice of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. delegation at the Olympics. In an interview with USA Today, he said, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence who funded gay conversion therapy in 2000?”

Very different

At 28, he jokes about being the oldest figure skater on the ice, the oldest since 1939 to make his first trip to the Games and very, very different.

“And I think maybe that’s what people are kind of latching onto, that my story’s different. That I’m different, and I think on some level we all feel sort of different. When we are embraced for who we are and speak our minds, it’s awesome.

Surprised

“I’m a little surprised that it’s 2018 and I’m the first,” he told TIME Magazine. “In this day and age, I think it’s so important to be visible and stand up for what you believe in and let the young kids know that it’s OK to be yourself.” In a news conference, Mr. Rippon discussed how he knows what it’s like to be the kid, who’s an outsider. Many young children, who feel as though they don’t fit in, themselves, have written letters to Mr. Rippon, asking for his advice.

A Teen Vogue op/ed piece quoted Mr. Rippon as saying that skating saved him and allowed him to be himself. “It was my outlet. That if I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my feelings and thoughts, I was able to go out on the ice and express them.”

And Mr. Rippon now uses his Twitter to express everything from self-deprecating jokes to insightful messages on how far he has come in his career.

Adam Rippon Tweet All the World's a Stage

If at first you don’t succeed, try … try … try again.

The Super Bowl of Commercials

In Super Bowl 2018, advertisers gave us a break, a commercial break, from all the recent political controversy that has been cited as a factor in declining TV ratings for the NFL this season.

Even the NFL got into the spirit with “Touchdowns to Come” starring NY Giants quarterback, Eli Manning and his wide receiver, Odell Beckham dirty dancing!

Super Bowl Ads Salad Bowl

Photo Courtesy of Instinct Magazine

Toyota set the emotional bar high with its opening spot after the kickoff. Rather that focus on promoting their vehicles, Toyota instead chose to spotlight Canadian alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft. She is the eight-time Paralympic gold medalist who was born missing a portion of her left arm and both legs below the knees. It focused on her story of beating the odds through perseverance and hard work. And the commercial will undoubtedly get more play during the upcoming Olympics, as Toyota is an official partner of the Games.

But Kia got no kudos for it’s sad and strange Super Bowl ad with aging rocker, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, driving in reverse to his youth. Especially after Melissa McCarthy’s “Save the Planet” charmer last year!

Picking up on the trend, Hyundai didn’t feature any of their cars in Sunday’s Super Bowl, either. Instead, it promoted the company’s effort to fund childhood cancer research with every purchase of a Hyundai. Watching the survivors being used as props to praise “heroes” just because they bought a Hyundai felt like a commercial way for the company to pat itself on the back.

Budweiser did a better job of sharing its social significance with its “Stand by Me” ad. By multi-purposing its manufacturing, the beer company shipped canned water to places that were impacted by natural disasters: Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and California.

Super Bowl 2018 Ads

Photo Courtesy of Today

Getting their bottle caps busted for trivializing protests in years past, Pepsi came back with a nod to nostalgia.

Super Bowl Celebrities

Celebrities were not sidelined from this year’s Super Bowl game, either. Super-rich founder and CEO Jeff Bezos played a part in a popular spoof when his Siri-substitute, Alexa loses her voice. And is momentarily replaced by an international assortment of sarcastic and unlikely characters including British chef and tv personality Gordon Ramsay, American rapper Cardi B, Australian actress Rebel Wilson and film icon, Anthony Hopkins.

And passing up social significance all together, M&M Mars kicked off with family slapstick fun as Danny DeVito personified a red M&M. While packaged goods provider, Proctor & Gamble’s created a funny and satirical Tide ad featuring Old Spice Terry Crews and “Stranger Things” David Harbour spoofing ads of every genre in an effort to show off clean, stainless clothes.

The end goal was to entertain without offending. That was a good thing and not easy these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dove Creates a Soap Opera

The famous Unilever body wash brand, Dove, struggling to emphasize positive body image, managed to offend its female audience not once, but twice this past year.

“Dove’s advertisements are some of the worst social media disasters of 2017,”  Jacob Shelton wrote in Ranker.com. “The corporations that made the list performed “big stunts, with the hopes of appealing to people’s sense of either political correctness, or idealism….”

Dove Soap Opera

Photo Courtesy of IOL

In October, Dove posted this shocking advertisement on Facebook. The video depicts an African American woman stripping and revealing a fair-skinned woman underneath. The ad seemed to reinforce a racist perspective that Dove has presented before: Once black skin is clean, it will be white.

In response to the backlash, the company posted “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. We missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.” However, many are left wondering what the intended “mark” was. One Facebook user posted “I mean anyone with eyes can see how offensive this is. Not one person on your staff objected to it? Wow. Will not be buying your products anymore.”

The controversy reminded many viewers of Dove’s 2011 campaign, in which three women stood next to each other. The woman of darker complexion stood under the “before” sign, while the more fair-skinned woman stood under the “after” sign. Many criticized Dove for putting forth the message that dark skin is dirty until its washed clean and white.

In May of 2017, Dove created a campaign called “Real Beauty Bottles.” The company created six different bottles of Dove, all various shapes and sizes, representative of women’s different body shapes. With bottles ranging from thin to curvy, and even pear-shaped, Dove intended to portray the beauty of each and every body size. While Dove may have had good intentions, female audiences were not happy with the choice of  bottle that aligned with each body type. Atlantic columnist, Ian Bogost points out the dilemma a woman with a pear-shaped body type would face, while shopping for body wash. “What otherwise would have been a body-image-free trip to the store becomes a trip that highlights her shape!”

Our Los Angeles media training would have coached Dove to just sell soap, rather than feminism and diversity.

Christmas Commercials That Connect: Toyota and Audi

Happy Holidays from READY FOR MEDIA and Tim Nudd, creative editor of ADWEEK, who has rated 30 of the best Christmas commercials from this year (we consider these as Christmas Commercials that connect to the audience) ttp://www.adweek.com/creativity/see-all-the-big-holiday-ads-of-2017/. As our gifts to you, we will summarize a few of the commericals here in a series of holiday blogs.

The usually in-your-face “Let’s Go Places” Toyotathon people created a very sentimental, story-telling commercial this year, featuring 3 generations of a real family and their family tree.

Toyota Holiday Commercials

Photo Courtesy of Toyota

 

Naturally, the trucks are Toyotas that bring home the tree the family has loved for decades, which died and had to be cut down. The tree is recycled and re-purposed into a picture frame and the family dining table.

The 100-second holiday spot is called a broadcast-first and aired right after The Voice and right before the fall finale of This Is Us. Toyota says the ad was intentionally shot in a style similar to This Is Us.

“The natural connection with Toyota’s new creative (campaign) and such a powerful night of family viewing illustrates the power of contextual messaging which still reigns king,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBC Universal.

“Engaging, emotional creative combined with the unparalleled environment of television is the ultimate platform for a marketer to reach audiences at scale and enhance the consumer experience.”

Following its premiere on NBC, the spot will run in theaters on over 20,600 screens from Dec. 1-28.

Another automotive giant, Audi, offers comic relief with a tongue-in-cheek approach in its 2017 holiday commercial. Audi driving fathers race murderously to find the last parking spot at the mall and the last toy on the shelf. This commercial depicts the irony of how stressful the holidays can be to the tune of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

We’ve all been there.

Christmas Commercials that Connect: McDonald’s

Happy Holidays from READY FOR MEDIA and Tim Nudd, creative editor of ADWEEK, who has rated 30 of the best holiday commercials of 2017, http://www.adweek.com/creativity/see-all-the-big-holiday-ads-of-2017/, As our gifts to you, we have summarized a few of our choices in a series of holiday blogs: Christmas Commercials that Connect.

Our award for “Best New Product Introduction” goes to McDonald’s campaign, get #ReindeerReady from Leo Burnett/London. In introducing a packet of carrot sticks that can be substituted for French fries in your child’s Happy Meal, this fast food franchise gives a nod to a healthier alternative than leaving cookies for Santa.

Photo Courtesy of McDonald’s

“Our campaign focuses on the anticipation, excitement and little moments of magic the run-up to Christmas brings,” says Emily Somers, vp of marketing and food development at McDonald’s U.K. “It’s one little girl’s preparation for the big day (by saving a carrot stick from her Happy Meal) ‘for the reindeer.’”

Of course, things go temporarily south when her older brother makes a startling revelation— there’s more than one reindeer and she’s saved just one carrot stick. That becomes a pretext for yet another visit to McD’s, for more carrots with a tired Dad who attempts to also order “a cheeseburger for Father Christmas.”

The ad was preceded by 10-second teasers featuring reindeer-ready carrots, now being promoted on the McDonald’s website as “deliciously crunchy reindeer treats.”

Taking full advantage of social media, the story will also be told on Snapchat, where users can unlock a branded Reindeer Face Lens and a game called “Carrot Run.” You can unlock the hub by scanning Snapcodes on McDonald’s Christmas packaging. Free packs of “reindeer treats” will also be shared with families in restaurants, begging the question, Are you #ReindeerReady?”

“As children with one goal in mind—pleasing the man who holds the Naughty/Nice list—the question had never even occurred to us. But in these more inclusive times, it’s probably bad form indeed to think only of the saint … and not his hardworking fleet.”

 

 

 

 

Outside the Box

In an essay written for ELLE UK in 2015, Meghan Markle, new fiancé to Prince Harry, said, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.”

Meghan Markle event appearance

Photo Courtesy of Business insider

With the word pictures so crucial for good writing and public speaking, she notes a traumatic moment in her childhood when, “My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. ‘Because that’s how you look, Meghan.’ I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion.” Seems she didn’t want to choose one parent over the other.

“If that happens again,” her father encouraged her. “You draw your own box.”

Meghan  Markle has spent her life outside of the box, challenging racial stereotypes. The Markle family was the only biracial family in the neighborhood, a situation that would have caused feelings of isolation for many children. However, Ms. Markle was different.

She didn’t think anything of having parents of different colors. Her parents created a world in which she wasn’t “different, but special,” even gifting her with a biracial Barbie family one Christmas.

As an adult, Ms. Markle has been a symbol of beauty as Rachel Zane, a legal eagle on the TV drama, Suits. She points to her role as being crucial: “Some households may never have had a black person in the house as a guest, or someone biracial. Well, now there are a lot of us on your TV and in your home with you.” How’s that for integration?

Ms. Markle inherits her spunk and drive from her great-great-great grandfather.

“You create the identity you want for yourself, just as my ancestors did when they were given their freedom. Because in 1865 (which is so shatteringly recent), when slavery was abolished in the United States, former slaves had to choose a name. A surname, to be exact. The family name that my great-great-great grandfather made to start anew was … Wisdom.


 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s often said that the camera doesn’t lie, nor does it blink. But until recently, the camera has always been in the hands of responsible and professional photographers, videographers and journalists. Not in the hands of passengers documenting airline brutality or murderers recording their own deeds as selfies.

cell phone picture

Photo courtesy of: Time.com

Now everyone with a cell phone, and that’s pretty much everyone, is a documentarian, taking cameras and matters into his or her own hands. And thanks to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, et al, there is no shortage of airtime.

Traditional print media like the New York TIMES, which narrowcasts to only those who choose to pay for it, advertises its policy of “all the news that’s fit to print.” But these social media publishers have yet to restrict the freedom of their presses.

According to Wikipedia, Clint Eastwood’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was one of the greatest and most influential Westerns of all time. But today’s citizens offer cowboy justice at its best and worst because there are no filters on these cameras.

In our Los Angeles media training and social media training world, this is the phenomena of loose cannons. Executives  must be Ready for them. It cannot be the “shoot from the hip” approach taken by United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz recently. There must be a sensible crisis plan, designed, prepared and practiced in advance.

Crisis training would have explored whether it is the best policy to boot paying customers to make way for employees.  Then, not defend employees’ actions in the face of excessive force without being aware of the details: a passenger being beaten seriously enough to cause a concussion, two broken teeth and a broken nose.

Then, after a deluge of negative traditional and social media not abjectly apologize saying Dr. David Dao “did nothing wrong.” A more appropriate response would have been, Dr. Dao was badly mistreated. But for the safety of all the passengers on my airline, everyone needs to follow the orders given by my people, even if you think those orders are stupid or unfair. And for that, I will not defend his actions either.

The cost to United Airlines in dollars and reputation is impossible to estimate. Each passenger on that flight is now being reimbursed for the price of his or her ticket, which may set a precedent that other companies will be forced to follow every time someone pictures and posts a misdeed. Finally, the passenger who was documented being dragged bloodied and broken down the aisle by countless cell phones is very likely to sue and is from Asia, an important market for the company.

The lesson, of course, is to get in front of a crisis, but to do it correctly. As the victimized doctor’s code would suggest, “First, do no harm.” And not respond impulsively without planning or design.

The world wide web offers the broadest of broadcasting possibilities to everyone who holds a cell phone. And that’s pretty much everyone.

 

Down but not Out

Outnumbered but not outclassed, House Democrats fought for the right to be heard on gun control. A veteran civil rights activist, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) was the spokesperson for the 170 lawmakers who staged a 26-hour sit-in on the House floor before the 4th of July adjournment. He also tweeted this soundbite,

“We got in trouble. We got in the way. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble. By sitting-in, we were really standing up.”

Photo Courtesy www.esquire.com

Photo Courtesy www.esquire.com

According to Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC),
“We are going back to our Congressional districts — we are going to engage our constituents on this subject, and we will not allow this body (Congress) to feel as comfortable as in the past. On July 5, we will return, and at that time we will be operating on a new sense of purpose.”

The sit-in became a social media happening after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) banned cameras by labeling the sit-in as nothing more than a “publicity stunt.” Tweets sent by Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) and periscope broadcasts by Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) were viewed on C-SPAN over 1 million times and the hashtags #NoBillNoBreak and #HoldTheFloor were tweeted over 1.4 million times, according to Twitter. The Republican’s response #StopTheStunt was tweeted about half as much.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), a prominent gun control advocate following the Sandy Hook grade school massacre in 2012 and who led a nearly 15-hour filibuster in the Senate last week asking lawmakers to vote on gun reform, walked over and joined the sit-in. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), llinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined the group, as well.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina acknowledged,

“Eventually we’ll find a compromise, because the need is too real.”

Democrats answered by breaking into a rendition of “We Shall Overcome,” changing the lines to “We shall pass a bill, someday.”

Controversy is one of the C’s of Communication we preach to clients at READY FOR MEDIA, along with clarity, candor and confidence. A sit-in is a peaceful yet powerful way to outcry societal issues. With the help of social media and this traditional form of protest, the Democrats gained public awareness on the importance of gun control and what needs to be done to bring about change.

Sometimes, you have to make your own news!

Trumped Up

In the game of bridge, when you don’t have enough cards in the suit that’s being played, the trump card wins. And Donald Trump appears to be winning in the Republican presidential race of 2016.

But he’s not playing well with others or winning the media game that is ultimately required in presidential politics.

Following Mr. Trump’s complaints of Fox News host and co-moderator of the Republican debates, Megyn Kelly (“I don’t like her. She doesn’t treat me fairly”) the network responded by saying that regardless of who Mr. Trump is, he cannot pick the journalists who will ask the questions.

Photo Courtesy www.adweek.com

Photo Courtesy www.adweek.com

So, Mr. Trump absented himself from the seventh Republican debate, in a version of stomping his feet, picking up his toys and going home from the playground. Seldom a winning strategy because, tirades aside, the Office of the President requires substance of thought and the traits and temperament of diplomacy and tact.

Media coverage is an opportunity to reveal your strengths in cogent, compassionate, and hopefully charismatic soundbites aired before the voting public. It’s essential to stay courteous when presenting yourself to and through the media. To disrespect reporters tarnishes your own image. Interviews are free advertising which show you to best advantage, if you learn how to spar and play the media game.

Jeb Bush came perhaps the closest when he teased Ms. Kelly about being in the same position as he, when it comes to Trump wrath.

“Acknowledge (the question) and Bridge to the Soundbite you came to give” is the guidance we give in media coaching to politicians and executives alike.  As in a dominoes game, if you don’t match your opponents dots and offer a side of your own, you’ll stay on the defensive forever. Far too many interviewees wait until a difficult question is asked and stumble to try to find an answer that won’t be harmful. Instead, bridge to a substantive answer to give the journalist something she can question. Leading the interview with your ready answers is the name of the game.

Megyn Kelly has voiced pride in women in politics on both sides of the aisle, “because I think there’s still a general approach to female candidates where people try to tar them as either nuts or sluts.”

But journalists have responsibilities, too. While Ms. Kelly purports to be doing her job without fear or favor, she gave Mr. Trump and his Twitter followers fuel for their Conservative fire with her provocative poses in white lingerie and a black slip and red stilettos for Gentleman’s Quarterly.

We do wish someone would ask the respected lawyer-turned reporter about her own judgment and good taste in creating the public trust a reporter requires. In short, “What were you thinking!”

 

 

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Taking artistic license with Marshall McLuhan’s edict: the medium is the message, consider that the media is the messenger. Media coverage is designed to convey a subject’s agenda, thoughts and opinions. Donald Trump was unaware of how to use the media to his advantage when he took broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper to task after his questioning of Hilary Clinton during a recent Democratic Presidential debate.

AndersonCooperBlogPicture

Photo Courtesy www.bluemassgroup.com

He accused Mr. Cooper  of giving “all softballs” and not one tough question to Hilary Clinton. Mr. Cooper seemed baffled and defended himself by saying that the panel asked her not one tough question, but many:

  • Being inconsistent  on issues for political expediency
  • Representing the middle class from her perspective in the 1%
  • Underestimating the Russians

Instead of concentrating on promoting his own campaign, Mr. Trump wasted time and opportunity berating Mr. Cooper’s questions while creating potential alienation with a distinguished journalist. Further, the candidate focused on a competing presidential candidate, by name and on a debate in which Mr. Trump was not even involved. This off-topic dispute sabotaged Mr. Trump’s own campaign progress.

The interviewee’s job is not simply to answer questions or, as in Mr. Trump’s case to criticize the media for the questions asked, but to advance his or her agenda. This is the basis for our Los Angeles media training, as we coach clients not to merely answer; ignore (as most politicians do) or demean (as Mr. Trump did) the questions but address the question with a Ready answer. An excellent answer prompts the next question and the next. And the interview is following the interviewee’s direction.

Every interaction with the media is an opportunity to advance your agenda, by using the media as it is intended: the means not the end. There’s no win, but simply a lose-lose proposition if you shoot the messenger!