Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prince Fielder, PETA and the Truism about Publicity (and the daily updates)

Darren Rovell twittered last night that PETA would be happy with noted vegetarian Prince Fielder's win in the Home Run Derby.

They were.

Is it just me, or doesn't it seem like 80% of PETA's news releases are what people would call "puff pieces". Perusing the last 20 or so news releases on PETA's media center, I see the following hard hitting stories: Prince Fielder's home run derby win, Carol Liefer coming out as a Vegan, Woody Harrelson doing god knows what, Playboy playmate hosting veggie dog lunch, bikinis, sexy lettuce, and something called "bloody syrup" (apparently an objection to seal killing in Canada - yeah I don't get it either).

Are these actually successful press releases for PETA? Do they actually get attention? Do they raise money? At some point the cuteness factor must wear off, no? Yes, we liked the first 20 or 30 spots of a supermodel promising to go naked before she would wear fur (with Pics!!!), but eventually, the tongue-in-cheek too-cute-by-half copywriting and ultimately silly messaging (hey, maybe you should stop eating meat to be stronger!!!) would seem to be counter-productive. They undermine the seriousness of PETA's mission and raise questions about its credibility.

PETA has to walk a fine line. Its mission is basically to improve animal welfare and reduce animal cruelty. Most animal cruelty takes place on the factory farms and in the testing labs. People don't want to hear about that though - I imagine PETA has decided they get more traction with puff pieces than with exposes, or even worse, guerrilla operations against farms. The pieces though distract from PETA's message and in some cases seem to make light of it (nobody really thinks that Fielder's vegetairianism helped him win the Derby - so what's the point besides a cheap laugh?)

It seems like the ASPCA walks the line better - affecting spots with Sarah McLachlin, tugging on people's heartstrings with the shots of the poor abused puppies. Yeah, that's not exactly PETA's mission - I think PETA's plank technically would not allow for domesticated animals either - but it is a credible approach, not snarky and was a proven money maker.

This is a long way of saying I wonder if the old truism of all PR being good PR is still true? For an arguably "fringe" group like PETA, is it more important to make sure people know you're still around than to provide a credible argument/release (whereas ASPCA is surely more well regarded than PETA so does not care as much about exposure)? Or are today's consumers so well informed and looped in that they will tune out obviously hacky BS like the Prince Fielder PR linked above?

The Baseball Update

Short one tonight - just a classic case of Tim McCarver idiocy.

President Obama asked McCarver and Buck why they thought the AL had won the last 12 all star games. Now the answer was probably simply a combination of luck and the talent in the AL being somewhat better than the NL the past decade. McCarver said that he thought the NL was catching up, but that the AL had a head start due to the DH. Just let that sink in for a second.

This was idiotic on so many levels. First, the DH has been around since '73. Second, the DH is used by both leagues in AS games played in AL parks. Third, the NL went 13-1 from '72 to '85, during which time the AL had the DH. I really can't imagine what McCarver was thinking. Actually, I'd rather not try.

The Taxes Update

I've already blogged on taxes today. I note though that Taxgirl noticed something I didn't - the surtaxes suggested by the House today apply to investment income as well as wages - basically, once again, resulting in a 45% max marginal rate on wages and a 25% max rate on cap gains and dividends (if Obama's proposals on cap gains and dividend tax rates come to fruition).

Greg Mankiw adds sales and state/local taxes to arrive at a top marginal rate above 50%. I think we're already there in California by that math, actually.

Update: Howard Gleckman at the Tax Vox blog has a very good post on the topic.

The Death Update

Samuel Genensky, a near blind inventor and mathematician for the Rand corporation who invented a precursor technology to the magnification devices currently in use by the partially sighted.

I thought this quote from him was interesting:

“When the partially blind went out in the world, they found that they either got no services at all or services that were appropriate for people who were totally blind,’’ Mr. Genensky told an interviewer this year. “Neither of these alternatives made much sense to me.’’

I find it is true in all walks of life that the benefits we provide people are at the margins - the high achievers and the low achievers. I guess the idea is that the rest will muddle through - not a perfect analogy because here we are talking about the somewhat disabled (partially sighted) vs. the obviously disabled (the blind), but I do think as a society we provide more accommodation for the obvious cases than the harder, less obvious cases.

Oh, and as a parent who hated the mandatory ointment requirement for newborns, this is haunting:

His eyes were burned shortly after birth when a delivery room nurse accidentally administered the wrong eyedrops to guard against infection.

Yeah. Um, sorry? The obit is here.

No comments: