How'd you like the task of rehabilitating Joseph Stalin's image and reputation? Well,
according to O’Dwyer’s, Russian Information Agency Novosti is searching for an international PR firm to do just that.
According to the report, the goal is to re-position the Soviet despot who, some historians say, may be responsible for more than 30 million deaths and, instead, highlight his role in defeating Nazi Germany and rebuilding the Soviet Union into a super power.
This is so wrong but, in a perverse way, kind of hilarious as well.
Can you imagine media training the lead 'Stalin' spokesperson?
Agency trainer: “Sergei, baby, you need to stay focused. Put the vodka down. Now, you need to be mindful of negative or irrelevant questions in an actual interview and 'bridge' to the talking points we just developed. Let's practice. Let's say I'm a Reuters reporter and ask you this question: ‘Sergei, how can you possibly call one of history's greatest mass murderers one of Russia's greatest leaders instead?’ ”
Sergei (downs a shot of Stoli): “On the contrary, we're saying Comrade Stalin saved hundreds of millions of lives by defeating the Nazis. Imagine how many Russians might have died if Hitler had won?”
Agency trainer: “Nice Sergei. OK, question number two: ‘How do you explain the way in which Stalin's rivals such as Leon Trotsky not only disappeared, but were air brushed out of official state photographs? Is that the way a great leader behaves?' ”
Sergei (pops another shot): “On the contrary, comrade reporter. We've done some homework and discovered that Trotsky, Molotov and others who you Western media types said were murdered simply took extended sabbaticals. They asked that their likenesses be removed. They'd had enough of the limelight.”
Agency trainer: “Smooth Sergei. Very smooth. One more toughie: 'How do justify the gulags?' ”
Sergei: “How do you justify Gitmo?”
Agency trainer: “You are so ready Sergei! After we're done, the Western press will be listing Stalin right alongside Alexander the Great and Caesar.”
If the chosen agency succeeds with the Stalin image program, I could see them building an entire practice around the emerging discipline. Were we were to do it, we'd call it PepperDespot and probably market it on our Website with such wording as:
“Are you the brand manager of a former Soviet Republic? Or maybe the CMO of an erstwhile member of the Axis Powers? Do you need to burnish the reputation of your local Mussolini, Hitler or Tojo?”
PepperDespot can help. Our efforts saved Joseph Stalin's name from the scrapheap of history (link to AP story: 'Stalin described as warm and fuzzy in new poll.'). And, we can do it for you as well. Just think of the tourism dollars that will accrue to your beleaguered brand once consumers understand the softer, human side of your dead despot. ‘PepperDespot: Making yesterday's scum tomorrow's rock stars.’ "