Public Relations

A Veneer of Health

The Burson-Marsteller PR firm did pro bono communications and media relations support for America's Health Care at Risk: Finding a Cure, which is billed as "a bi-partisan conference bringing together major stakeholders in the health care debate for a high-level dialogue aimed at generating real and lasting solutions." While organizers of the conference were thrilled to have the free help, they may have been wise to check on B-M's health credentials.


Stealth Marketers Gone Wild: Will the FCC Act?

One of my favorite critiques of our ad-saturated modern world is in "Infinite Jest," the epic novel by recently-departed author and essayist David Foster Wallace. In the novel's not-too-distant future, time itself has become a corporate marketing opportunity. There's the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar and the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. That's not to mention the Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office, Or Mobile, which is often abbreviated.

Image from a Masterfoods video news releaseThe novel's system of Subsidized Time is hilarious ... and you can almost imagine it really happening. At least corporate-sponsored years wouldn't present the disclosure problems of today's stealth ads -- marketing messages that masquerade as entertainment or news content.

The Center for Media and Democracy believes that all advertising should be as clearly announced as the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar. That's why we just filed a comment with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is debating how its sponsorship identification rules apply to product placement, product integration and other types of "embedded advertising" relayed over television or radio stations.

In 2003, Commercial Alert urged the FCC to address product placement disclosure. "Advertisers can puff and tout, and use all the many tricks of their trade," the watchdog group wrote (pdf). "But they must not pretend that their ads are something else."

Especially, we would add, when that "something else" is news programming.

PickensPlan Pushed by Patton Boggs

In July, oil industry figure T. Boone Pickens launched the PickensPlan to promote "energy independence" from "foreign oil" for the United States. In the plan, Pickens promotes the use of wind power to generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity, and natural gas and biofuels for transportation. Pickens now has business interests from funds management, water projects and the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.


Bolivia: The Spies Who Spun Me

In Bolivia, anti-government protests have led to dozens of deaths. President Evo Morales claimed the United States is supporting the violent groups and asked U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg to leave. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), pointing to earlier reports that the U.S.


PR Driving "Carbon Neutral" Greenwashing

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) is alarmed about the extent of corporate greenwashing. The authority's chief executive, Frank Goodman, explained, "You are not allowed to say your product is good for the environment unless you can prove this.


Auto Association "Empowers" Consumers

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association of car and light truck manufacturers, has launched "EcoDriving," "a national campaign intended to empower consumers on an individual basis to reduce fuel use and CO2 emissions." The campaign will utilize social networking, events, and media outreach to "offers manufacturers an opportunity to show consumers they are part of the solution." Colorado Gov.



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