Ashley Madison Ad Promotes Female Body Shaming

Married and seeking an affair?  I first heard of this on Tyra. I was surprised to find out that CNN, Good Morning America, Ellen, The View and of course Larry King Live have all featured this topic on their shows. Sounds disturbing but supposedly 10 million people are doing just that. Ashley Madison is a dating service targeting specifically married people.  This “married dating service for discreet encounters” offers several membership packages, the most expensive package of course “guarantees an affair.” In other words its a faithful spouses worst nightmare. The site launched in 2001 and has been causing controversy ever since. Recently the company released a new ad  that offers several disturbing messages. The ad depicts an image of a plus size woman posing in lingerie. Above her is  the caption “Did your wife scare you last night?” Yes, they really said that. Some sexist and insensitive marketing executives must have thought that hadn’t caused enough damage because shortly after another equally offensive ad, with the exact same model was released.

It’s clear what they’re trying to say. I guess they found this to be humorous and perhaps relate-able to the men they market to. Either way they should have known it would cause outrage amongst women and anyone with an ounce of compassion. While the ad promotes infidelity (as to be expected) it clearly mocks a very serious issue, body shaming.  Jacqueline, the plus size model featured in the ad takes to the internet to express her disgust in this article titled  “I’m The ‘Scary’ Model In The Awful Ashley Madison Ad.” Although, it is very clear that this photo was taken voluntarily. She states that the photo was shot by a friend before her career began. The company allegedly used the photos without her consent. She states in her article:

“I had no idea that the photographer would endeavor to sell the photos to corporations and/or stock photo companies, who would then go on, repeatedly, to use them in rude and mocking ways.”

Since their launch the company has given us a vivid perspective on what they think of marriage and women. If it were not clear already. Through provocative commercials and  advertisements to back their position, it’s clear that their marketing team isn’t biting their tongues for anyone. Aside from the whole infidelity issue, their approach is direct and in-your-face. It may even serve as adequate validation in the eyes of their biggest niche market , the cheater.  Nonetheless the ad is offensive and wildly inappropriate in the context it was used.  For such a big oops you would think that maybe an apology would be issued to Jacqueline.  I often like to think that CEO’s and the people higher up have just a lick of common sense.

WRONG !

Once the ads went viral in several publications. The CEO , Noel Biderman offered some words of encouragement, or maybe not, to the angry model.

“The best thing that could’ve happened to this woman is that we used her in our ad. Despite what she may want you to think, she is reaping the press for her own pornography website. She took these pictures and signed the release knowing that they were” not just for ‘personal use.’ However, if she can get great publicity from this, all the power to her.”

According to Chapter 6 of our textbook, more specifically “the four essential steps of effective public relations,” Ashley Madison did a lot of things right. They clearly researched their target audience, married people and found ways to appeal directly to them. Below you will find a video of an Ashley Madison Ad, that was banned from the 2011 Super Bowl. The first is the actual commercial. The second video features CEO Noel Biderman , and he states that

“There’s a notion out there that we’re inventing infidelity but really its been around a lot longer than our business has.  So were out there creating commercials like this, placing them on high end media and we’re attracting tons of audiences to it and that’s why we keep going through these hoops”

Now for those of us that aren’t interested in cheating we find it quite offensive. Though from a public relations point of view these type of ads are yes shocking but certainly get the message across. Our book talks about defining audiences and segmenting public’s. The company understands that this isn’t for everyone so they’re able to make these connections and try to win people over.  Are they right for it? Maybe not. Will someone buy into that ad? Yes they will. Some campaigns may be offensive like this one but for this specific lifestyle their are certain points of view that are tolerated. They’ve used their research wisely and concocted  a message that appeals specifically to their main audience.

What do you think? Can Jacqueline benefit from being the punch line of a bad joke? Is it in her best interest to take advantage of being exploited? Aside from being controversial do you think their approach is effective?

Sheheriana Love

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UFC steroid problem?

Performance enhancing drugs in sports has been a problem for a very long time. Yet these sports are still around. When Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds were caught with steroids, the MLB population was in an uproar. But that was never going to be enough to end the American past time. When Barrett Roberts and Chris Cooper confessed to taking steroids in the NFL, football didn’t go away. It seems like almost any professional athlete can take performance enhancing drugs and get away with it. If they get caught, there is a slap on the wrist, a suspension a fine, and then they’re back on the field. This works for almost all main stream sports. NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, but what about the Mixed Martial Art profession?

If you take steroids in any of these other sports, they may help you run faster, jump higher, or increase your stamina to play longer. If steroids are taken in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), they help you beat the crap out of another person. So not only are you putting yourself at risk with these drugs, you’re putting another human being at risk.

The UFC has been trying to build its reputation as a sport since Royce Gracie helped found it in 1993. In the beginning the

Dana White, President of the UFC

sport had a very hard time gaining support due to its violent nature, and lack of regulation. The league was later sold to the Fertitta brothers, and Dana White was appointed president. The PR work that the current owners put into the UFC is what made it into what it is today. Branching out to the younger generations in the United States, and appealing to their more violent nature, the sport was wildly accepted around the world, but still not at the same level as the NBA or NHL. So when news got out of fighters taking steroids, the National Association of Sports Commissions went to work, but what about the UFC PR manager?

When it came to growing the UFC as a brand, the Public Relations team, lead by former PR manager Jen Wenk, did a great job. But when hit with a controversy that could possibly end the entire sport and the UFC along with it, they are nowhere to be seen. So are they doing their jobs correctly or not? I think that they are doing their jobs perfectly. None of this has been on the news at all. You have to be pretty specific in order to find out anything about the steroid scandal, and every video I’ve seen of president Dana White has him denouncing the use of steroids and totally staying away from the issue with the fighter involved (Chael Sonnen) specifically. He says “I’m not getting involved in this thing. It’s Chael, His people, and the athletic commission that are going to have to work this thing out.”

This video shows Dana White expressing his feelings towards the NASC. He exemplifies his lack of power and therefore the UFC’s lack of responsibility. There are at least two other videos were Dana says the exact same thing, which leads me to believe he was told to say it by his PR manager.

So directing the media away from the UFC and steroids and making this an isolated incident seems to be the play that they are making, and so far it’s working out for them. The UFC is still alive and scheduling fights, and the news of steroid use has been limited to few internet webcasts, and a few disgruntled ant-MMA proponents. But will this work forever?

This strategy is working now, but what will happen when another fighter is found with steroids? Do you think that this strategy will always work?

-Michael Elkins

Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage to Kris Humphries: Special Event PR tactic or really Irreconcilable differences??

Celebrity icon Kim Kardashian’s marriage to New Jersey Nets basketball player Kris Humphries ended after only 72 days of marriage.  The couple married on August 20, 2011 and Kardashian filed for divorce October 31st. Is this a brilliant  PR tactic to increase personal revenue and E!’s television ratings or simply a marriage that took a turn for the worst?

E! network put out a statement claiming that that the rumors of the wedding and marriage being a publicity stunt by the network “completely false” although the first episode of the Kardashian-Humphries wedding scored the highest rating on E! network in history! Sounds questionable to me!  Kardashian announced the divorce on her blog via her website (www.kimkardashian.celebuzz.com).

Kim became a trending topic on twitter #ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage and became the center of mockery with all the allegations of her planned divorce.

Kim Kardashian replied to all the buzz about the rumors of allegedly marrying solely for the media  profit, “First and foremost, I married for love. I can’t believe I even have to defend this. I would not have spent so much time on something just for a tv show.” and that her “intuition” led her to end the marriage.

This makes me begin to question isn’t time money?  The Kardashian and Humphries wedding cost an estimated $10 million and wedding profit estimated at $18 million. According to our Think Public Relations book it says that PR professionals rely on a toolbox full of best known tactics including special events. Pure Brilliance right?

 

Fashion, social media, innovation, and how it’s all stitched up.

At one time access into the tents for fashion week was like a golden ticket for the fashion world.   For those who did not attend the shows, there was the Vogue September and March issues, which were considered gold to fashion addicts.  It was at this time that the spring and fall, respectively, trends were unveiled with a taste of what is to come.  Now, with the rise in social media the dynamics to fashion week and designer shows are changing, and have been for the past couple of years.
With the help of social media, the increased speed of the internet, and a push from PR professionals, fashionistas no longer have to wait for the March and September issues to know what to expect in six months.  The New York Times covers fashion week and always features slide shows of the events in New York, London, Paris, and Milan.  The New York Mercedes Benz fashion week has a whole website devoted to coverage of the shows posting them as the week progresses. I have to admit though, I often times find that the Mercedes Benz website doesn’t always work properly and I usually just head directly over to the New York Times to take a look at all the fabulous garment creations.  One thing I personally like about going to the New York Times website is that I can zoom in on the garments and really take a look at them.  The site does an excellent job at getting pretty close, able to see the texture on the garment or even the tattoo on the model’s foot.  YouTube, however, has one-uped both the New York Times and the MB Fashion week website by streaming live.  However, not all the designers have agreed to stream their work live, resulting in the unattended needing to wait in antici….pation (sorry guys, had to, it’s Halloween!, even if unrelated) to see their latest creations.  By streaming live, the viewer who was unable to attend can now sit at home in their pajamas and watch at the same time as everyone else.  I must admit though, there is a special feeling about being present at a fashion show, no matter how big or small, that you can’t get from a laptop screen, but when all else fails, live streaming is another great alternative.

As with all fields, there will always be the people who propel ahead and utilize all the new technological tools to their advantage which in turn helps to satisfy consumers wants.  In our book, Think, Public Relations, they discuss in detail the different ways the internet and social media can help organizations and companies alike throughout chapter 11.  There is the feeling of being interactive.  In this case, that you are able to see the shows just like any buyer in the industry, thanks to the PR pro’s helping to advocate the usage of live streaming.  The cost can also be scaled down when a designer decides to show their smaller lines only online. Chapter 11 also outlines social media and all the positive uses that can be achieved through proper use.

One dynamic that I absolutely love about Alexander McQueen‘s facebook page is with the men’s collection.  The designer is able to communicate, the third step as outlined in our book in chapter 7, with the public about the design inspirations.  In this way the public is able to better understand the background of the designs and ultimately give the line more meaning.

Diane Von Furstenberg is a big advocate in the use of social media.  Her facebook page would make all three smile, that is the PR, marketing, and advertising teams.  Her page shows a variety of things that she is involved in with the community, her new items, a wrap of the month, etc. She also shares many pictures and videos, making her fan-base feel a part of her world.  On her twitter page, she is constantly updating where she is at, what she is doing, which helps to create the fact that she is just like anyone else.  On her main website, one can also feel that she is a down to earth person.  This was reinforced by the picture selections, the greeting at the top, “Hello, You”, as well as her tweets that are continually showing at the bottom.  As a PR professional, it is the details that count that help to create the warmth that allows the public to feel comfortable to talk back.

With all of the advances in bringing the fashion shows and designers to you, the magazines are no longer the coveted gold that they used to be.  They too, have had to redesign.  Elle, another big magazine that showcases the different trends has been doing just that. By bringing in technology and gadgets it has helped to set Elle apart from the rest of their competition.

With all of the advances, there is no telling where it will stop, if stopping is even possible.  Some designers may be sticks in the mud, like myself.  But like me, they too will learn the benefits of social media, probably from a nudge, push, or even shove (if need be) from their own PR team.  Who knew all the positive ways PR and social media can really move and advance the world?

Dayna

I got 99 problums but PR ain’t one

Public Relations are the mouthpiece of corporations without a doubt, and during today’s day and age, much like everybody else, sometimes they can put their own foot in their mouths. While driving, I was listening to rapper Jay-Z,  in his song Ön To The Next One” he caught my attention with one line through the full song.

“I use to drink Crystal but Motherf**ers racist”

That line alone led to a days worth of Google and realizing the perfect example of how Public Relations could put their foot completely in their mouths.

For a miniature history lesson, Crystal was the leading front runner item within the Hip-Hop-era along with the culture of your fancy Champaign-high-class-drinkers, in other words Crystal had the best of both worlds and selling for $300 a bottle. This craze developed making the brand of Crystal synonymous  with the word of Champaign.

Rappers usage of cristal.

During the Google sprint, I came across the statement that apparently ticked Jay-Z off, where President and CEO, Frédéric Rouzaud, the article posted.

“When asked about Cristal’s association with hip-hop, Rouzaud responded that he viewed it with “curiosity and serenity.” He went on to say, “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

In laymen’s terms he’s saying we can’t forbid people in the hip-hop culture from buying the product or showing off the product in the way their glamorizing the Champaign, but he would love for hip-hop artist to choose another product over his own so the name of Cristal could have a cleaner image.

In almost immediate backlash, Jay-Z responded by saying “I would never ‘drink Cristal or promote it in any way or serve it at any of my clubs’ for what he felt was off hand, patronizing disrespect for the culture of hip hop.

As you could imagine anyone who embraces a product for several years, supplies the product throughout their clubs and flashes the product through their million-dollar video shoot, only to find out the president of the product wants everyone but your culture buy the product, would be pretty upset to say the least.

So in response the Jay-Z along with a horde of other rappers has done the only logical thing to do, waging war against crystal, urging many of their fans along with friends alike to buy their secondary choice of product, being champaign Armand de Brignac, also known as the “Ace Of Spade”, which has received a number of “shout out’s” ever since. Even entering the rhymes of Jay-Z as on the same song, in fact, the next line he stated’.

“So I switched Gold Bottles on To That spade”

  Jay-Z with his new favorite champaign

Currently, while mid-war continues, Armand de Brignac’s currently the #1 selling champaign in the world, while I’m not sure where crystal ranks, but the status is not close to where it was when the hip-hop community was supportive.

During this interview below, Jay-Z speaks on the issue during the final seconds of the video, still an entertaining interview to say the least.

watch?v=nHhNhbrr4BU

After hearing this, I could only draw two questions along with two conclusions which is, was Crystal wrong, and are rappers or any musicians better at PR then…. (wait for it) ACTUAL PROFESSIONALS (dramatic music). My answer, yes to both. How do you feel?

 

-Antonio