The Best Defense Can Be Good and Offens-ive

Recently, McDonald's Corp. the company that's probably most responsible for obesity in the US (and thanks to overseas expansion, soon the world), launched an anti-obesity education campaign that it said would promote the importance of exercise and a balanced lifestyle. Reading between the lines of its press release their "program" boils down to 1) eat something else we sell besides the stuff we've hawked for 40 years; and 2) If you don't want to be a lard-ass, get some exercise. Everything else including "educating" the public and a guy hired to walk and bike across America for 36 consecutive days (presumably not snacking on Big Macs every 10 miles or so) is window dressing.

While this might get the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services off their backs, this has to be the most transparent and absurd idea since KFC tried to convince the public that fried chicken was part of a healthy diet.

But this is last ditch PR 101, to go at the problem on the side of the angels after all else fails. Looks at how aggressive the tobacco companies are now "educating the public" about the hazards of smoking compared to when their CEOs sat in front of congress and said with earnest conviction, "What danger?"



Here are some last ditch PR 101 ideas for some other companies that could well use them:

Disney - "educate the public" on the dangers of going to see any of its recent movies. Maybe that will kill the word of mouth that is killing their box-office.

ExxonMobil - underwrite exhibitions of birds and sea-going animals who have survived oil spills and, other than spazzing out every 30 seconds, lead nice, normal solvent-covered lives.

National Rifle Association - sponsor a roadshow to "educate" gangstas on how to aim their glocks and AKs straight, to cut down on injuries to bystanders.

Burger King - reconfigure their restaurants so that there is no drive thru and you can't park any closer that 2.5 miles. Promote the hike to the counter as "fitness walks."

Fox - Place mirrors on every street corner with a sign saying, "Do you like what you see? For $50,000 and some entirely unnecessary, life-threatening surgery, you too could become a 'Swan.'"

Clear Channel - underwrite a lecture series on the right of free speech and how saying F**K, and bl*wj*b on the radio is protected by the Constitution. Show old Lenny Bruce tapes to school kids so they can get some historical perspective on free speech.

Martha Stewart - with inserts in financial services magazines, target individual investors with tips on how to save money while trading stocks and how to plan for retirement.

Conde Nast - launch a series of "educational" seminars at high schools on bulimia, teen aged breast augmentation and the fiscal dangers of conspicuous consumption.

Google - through pop-ups "educate the public" on the value of disclosing personal information in exchange for fast links to "Janet's breast" and "cat-beheading vehicle ad." Teach advertisers that 50 miles should still be considered "local."

Major League Baseball - in each game program, have a section "educating the public" on the entertainment value of seeing ads on the side of batting helmets and why being nearly surrounded by tacky billboards is just another part of "America's pastime." Along with $5 hotdogs and $7 beers.

George Tennet - open forum lectures on time management and how to give the illusion to your boss that once a month means "all the time."

Town Father of Darien, CT - "educate the public" on how to spot the difference between online satire and a formal town filing to open a Hooters.

Next story loading loading..