Education

The True Story of a Bogus Blog

Writing for AdWeek, Andrew Adam Newman reports that a deceptive PR campaign on behalf of the Coach bag company has become "the latest illustration of how a buzz-seeking stunt may backfire." Led by Paul Werth Associates, an Ohio PR firm, the "International AntiCounterfeiting Campaign" (IACC) sought to discourage people from buying knockoff handbags.

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New Kids' Book on Plastic Surgery Skirts Breasts

How does a mother explain to her children why she's having a breast augmentation, a tummy tuck or a nose job? Help is on the way -- a new book for kids about plastic surgery, My Beautiful Mommy. The story features a handsome, musclebound, superhero-type male doctor and a Mommy who says that as she got older, she couldn't fit into her clothes any more. Mom explains to her child that the doctor is going to help her fix all that. Mom comes home after surgery looking slightly bruised and bandaged, but with fuller, higher breasts.

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Lawsuits, Light Cigarettes and Fear-Based Marketing Strategies

Fear-driven marketing gets resultsThe Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals missed a great opportunity this week to hold the tobacco industry accountable for one of its worst marketing tactics -- positioning cigarette brands in response to smokers' medical concerns. The April 7, 2008, issue of the New York Times has an article about the dismissal of a huge, class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry that was brought by smokers of "light" cigarettes who claimed they were misled about the relative safety of "light" cigarettes compared to regular, "full flavor" cigarettes. The suit, and its dismissal by the court, brought to mind a little-recognized tobacco industry marketing survival tactic that weighs heavily on the public's perception of exactly what "light" means.

The tobacco industry has long had a remarkable ability to rescue itself from damaging health claims by turning allegations against its products into marketing opportunities. Inside the industry, the fact that cigarettes cause widespread illness and death is referred to as the "smoking and health" issue, or "S&H issue" for short. Tobacco marketers consider "S&H issues" to be little more than "external marketing forces" that require re-positioning of products, through changes in advertising copy strategy, so that smokers will get an illusion of safety from the dangers they perceive.

Vets for Freedom Pushes School Too Far

It was originally planned as "a low-key classroom discussion about patriotism and service to country" at Forest Lake High School in Minnesota. But when the Republican Party-associated pro-Iraq war group Vets for Freedom "decided to call a press conference at the school and alerted media," things got heated.

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More Spin for the Span

After the tragic collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis last August, the state wants to "restore the image of the beleaguered Minnesota Department of Transportation." So Minnesota is paying the public relations firm Himle Horner at least $550,000.

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Global Warming Hurts Our Feelings

"A pair of agriculture groups has temporarily suspended about $1.5 million in grants to the University of Minnesota to protest a controversial study by U scientists earlier this month about biofuels and global warming," reports Tom Meersman.

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Teacher Warns Students About War Propagandist John Rendon

John RendonSteve Runge, an instructor at Northeastern University in Boston, is raising a red flag about a controversial lecturer. "John Rendon of the Rendon Group will be addressing the College of Business Administration Thursday afternoon.

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