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Thursday, April 05, 2007

PR the Michael Moore way

You get the feeling Michael Moore hates PR professional and who would blame him based on these two clips.

Michael uses what you could say is guerrilla PR against organisations to achieve results. You might have seen Bowling for Columbine and the way that he got the gigantic retailer, Wal-Mart, to stop selling bullets. Ironically, I am sure Wal Mart did not see it, they banned certain offensive records, books and films as part of their social responsibility and if you wanted to go out and shoot someone because you had seen a horror film from so other store Wal Mart could help.

While one can admire Michael for his effective, and often black humoured way of achieving results, you cannot help but think how some highly paid PRs have made it there.

The first clip concerns BMW. BMW, like most German industry used slave labourers to make massive profits and significantly contribute to the Nazi war economy. Even though BMW's revenues are outstanding (49 billion Euros for 2006) they could not bring themselves to compensate their wartime victims for 50 years. Michael had a go and they agreed to give them compensation although several thousand dollars is not exactly generous.

But it is their PR approach that also amazes. First they send the CEO's driver to talk to the survivor and the "debt collector" stating the CEO was unavailable!

The PR Jack Pitney, currently Vice President, Marketing for BMW US tries to say that both the slaves and BMW were both victims! And historically the PR falsely states that German industry was forced to take slaves. He further says they had received no claims, which he had no time to check out by the look of the film and is also wrong. What got me was the glib statement "there are no winners here."

Still a week later a miserly compensation fund stopped the PR backlash and the generosity must have come from the threat of legal action.

The clip can be seen here.

The second clip is really dark humour and got a great result.

Humana, the health insurers refused to honour a policy because it covered diabetes
but not pancreatic problems. The policy holder a needed a pancreas transplant because of his diabetes. Despite turning over $21.4 billion in 2006 they would not fork out several thousand dollars to save the patients life.

Well, Michael ensured that they did by inviting Humana employees to the policy holder's funeral. If he was going to die why not do it with him there so he could enjoy it before it really happened?

Enjoy the clip here.

And be amazed by the Head of Worldwide Public Relations Greg Donaldson: confrontational, condescending, glib and seemingly unconcerned at times. Michael and the policy holder are just a pain that will go away if you come with some standard phrases.

PR often comes down to a little respect; how these guys got jobs worth, who knows, $100,000, $200,000 or more makes me wonder.


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