Oct 27

“We are sorry the guy died, but what can we do?”

United Arab Emirates Swimming Association executive director Ayman Saad was direct and to the Products_image2-2660-d point when asked to comment about the death of 26-year-old American swimmer Fran Crippen this past weekend. He sighed and said (Saad?), “We are sorry the guy died, but what can we do?” What can one do? The answer is: a whole helluva lot more than the UAE Swimming Association apparently did.

Crippen was competing in a 10 kilometer open water race in the UAE and, according to a top official with FINA, an international organization governing swimming, likely died from overexertion. The ever-sympathetic Saad, added: “This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot.” Oh. 

Other swimmers disagreed with Saad’s moronic observations. The winner, Thomas Lurz, said it was far too hot to even hold the competition. "The water was amazingly hot. There were many swimmers who had serious problems in the water,’ said Lurz. Several swimmers complained of dehydration and disorientation after swimming in the warm water and three were taken to the hospital. The UAE Swimming Association said the water was 84 degrees at the start of the race. Many other swimmers have said the water temperature was more like 90 degrees! Man, that’s bathtub hot.

Two reactions:

-      I’m not a competitive swimmer, but have competed in many long distance running events where the same exact thing happened. In April of this year, for example, I ran the Long Branch Half Marathon in 90 degree temperatures. More than 30 runners collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital. I stopped four or five times during the run and took a full month to recover from the severe dehydration. Too many race officials such as the ones in the UAE and Long Branch turn a blind eye when it comes to protecting the safety of athletes. They’re more concerned with getting the race started on time and pleasing the sponsors.

-      Saad’s comments have to rank on my all-time top 10 list of stupid remarks. Others would include:

  • “I’m not a witch,” Christine O’Donnell, Delaware Tea Party candidate and erstwhile witch.
  • “We seem to have a major malfunction,” NASA official witnessing the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in mid flight.
  • “Mission accomplished,” President George W. Bush, declaring the war in Iraq won in 2004.
  • “The Gulf of Mexico is a big ocean,” Tony Heyward, erstwhile CEO of BP, immediately after the massive oil spill had occurred.
  • “I did not have sex with that woman,” President William Jefferson Clinton.

Help me here, Repman readers. What are some other all-time horrific public comments? Let’s create a list and ask Jack O’Dwyer, Paul Holmes or Erica Iacono to publish it. Hey, if we go about this the right way it could become an annual ‘Repman and friends Top 10 most stupid statements of the year’ kind of thing. Alternatively, we could give credit where credit is due and name our list, ‘The Ayman Saad Most Moronic Comments of the Year.’ What better way to pay tribute to that ass?’

So, send me your thoughts. Assuming I collect 10 or more, I’ll issue a press release and ask our crack agency publicity team to pitch it to one of the PR industry trades. I can’t think of a better way to ‘out’ Saad while paying tribute to the late Mr. Crippen.

A tip o' RepMan's the mountain climbing hat to The Danderoo for this suggestion.

Aug 02

Oil: A dirty business…

TODAY'S GUEST POST IS BY PEPPERCOMMER RAY CARROLL.

One hundred days of disaster have gone by and it seems BP is having more difficulty cleaning up
Bp5 their image than the actual oil spill. Catastrophe unfolded, the company has been ridiculed for its lack of preparedness as well as its reactions to the crisis. Controversy from their past has resurfaced and issues of corporate malpractice are being investigated.

There’s heated debate involving a new structure to be built on Park Place, in lower Manhattan; an incumbent administration err in judgment regarding Shirley Sherrod and her impending lawsuit; and, local railroad agencies claim of nearly a 96 percent punctuality rate (talk about manipulating statistics).  Yet still, I’ve felt compelled to comment on torrents of negative press circling oil giant, BP.

The un-natural disaster in the Gulf fiscally dwarfs any product recall or corporate crisis I can imagine, and its detrimental effects will be long lasting. Litigation may take decades as federal claims have been filed in twelve states.  The tourism and fishing industries, workers killed or injured on the rig and, investors believing it was BP’s mistakes that resulted in the sharp drop in stock price, are some of those seeking compensation.  The ecological impact has yet to be fully determined and best-case scenario, the oil’s effects will subside, ecology will return and prosper.  BP will surely attract press coverage related to this mess for years to come.

BP’s tarnished image, despite having survived past monetary penalties related to their reckless decision-making, now seems to me close to irreparable.  The public’s view of BP is negative at best and the company continues to make poor choices when attempting to appeal to the public.  The bombardment of negative publicity has been self-inflicted, due in fact to neglectful safety tactics and careless maintenance practice.  Clearly they prioritize finance over humanity. 

What really has me shocked is their questionable business associations used in order to substantiate growth. US Senators wish to investigate a role BP may have had in lobbying Scotland for the release of the only convicted Lockerbie bombing suspect, in relation to a $900 million dollar oil exploration contract with Libya. While their involvement has not yet been understood, the story has been dubbed the ‘Oil for Terrorists’ scandal. BP has become a major player in the global oil game and it’s apparent deceit has been their forte. 

In 2006, a BP subsidiary accepted liability for their role supporting paramilitaries to protect a crucial pipeline from insurgents. The company was ordered to pay millions in reparations to Columbian farmers for human rights issues stemming from the agreement. 

More recently, BP had been suspected of photo cropping an image of personnel hard at work in a crisis center.  The company admitted to this shortly after accusation.

BP has also offset the damages of the spill against its taxes, saving nearly $10 billion dollars.  While viewed as a strategic business maneuver the average citizen will misread the intentions.

Can the oil conglomerate expect changes in fortune having banished Tony Hayward to Russia, and placing at the reigns a Gulf Coast native?  Will Tony “get his life back” in Siberia? Can criminal liability charges be doled out for gross incompetence and negligence?  Should the company be held accountable for nuisances related to shoddy business practice?

One thing is certain; the ineptitude exhibited throughout the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and BP’s involvement in other debacles, have become case studies of how not to connect with the public.

Jul 06

There are morons. Then there are cigarette smokers.

Thomas Jefferson’s words notwithstanding, all men (and women) are not created equal. Some
No-smoking-ad are gifted athletes. Others are Nobel Prize winners. Most, though, while away their lives staring vacantly at reality TV shows. I’d place cigarette smokers in the latter group. Can there be a more clueless and moronic class of human beings than cigarette smokers? Not only are they knowingly destroying their health, they’re paying huge amounts of money to do so.

I’d leave smokers to their inevitable plight if it weren’t for a new survey I happened across in a recent Daily Dog. It shows that one-third of smokers surveyed by GlaxoSmithKline misunderstand the health impact of ‘light’ or ‘mild’ cigarettes. Almost half (44 percent) say they typically smoke light or ultra light cigarettes, with one-quarter of these nincompoops saying they do so because they mistakenly believe light cigarettes are less harmful and easier to quit than regular cigarettes. Oh baby. And, I thought that two-year-old, chain-smoking Indonesian kid was clueless. He doesn’t hold a candle (or, lighted match for that matter) to American smokers.

The GSK survey was timed to coincide with the government’s intention to ban such words as light, low and mild on all cigarette packaging. Well, there’s a few more million dollars down the tube. The warning won’t matter. Smokers are too dumb to get it.

I wonder if the same morons who believe the words mild or light indicate a less toxic cigarette would accept similar adjectives if placed in front of other known killers. To wit:

1.)    Al Qaeda Light (“Honey, I’ve just been recruited by a real sweetheart of a guy named Osama. Even smokes light cigarettes.”)
2.)    A new, mild 9mm from Glock (“They say they’re safer, babe. They use softer, lighter bullets!”)
3.)    Low tar BP oil (“Surf’s up, hon. Let’s do some snorkeling in Gulfport!”)
4.)    Iran Light (“So what if they start building nuclear weapons? They’ll be nuke lights.”)
5.)    Wall Street Light (“Those AIG guys are 100 percent honest. They earned every nickel. So what if it was our nickel?”)

Maybe if we just referred to the Great Recession as ‘light’ smokers would happily puff away believing their life savings haven’t gone up in smoke? Might smokers also dismiss the Catholic Church hullabaloo as much ado about nothing if the Vatican started positioning the pedophilia cases as ‘mild’?

According to the same survey, smokers also think cigarettes are safer if they’re contained in light colored packaging! Maybe the Taliban should change from black-hooded robes to teal instead? I’d have to believe the Bloods and Crips could start recruiting smokers to their ranks if they began marketing a kinder, gentler line of gang clothing. Perhaps mocha and lime? And, if those Montclair-based Russian spies were really diabolical, they would have sought out American smokers within the intelligence community, donned light-colored clothing and asked for some mild intelligence and light secrets.

I ask you: is there anyone dumber than a smoker?

Jun 30

We really shouldn’t be blaming BP, Halliburton or the government


Kurt
I
was whipping through Kurt Vonnegut's 'A Man Without a Country' when I was
stopped in my tracks by this passage: 'We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a
state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our
leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what
we're hooked on.' That was written in 2005.

Man's
wanton destruction of planet Earth is nearing a crescendo in the Gulf of
Mexico. And, talk about an exclamation point. Wow.

We
shouldn't be blaming the Gulf disaster on BP, Halliburton, Obama, Cheney, W. or
anyone else. It's everyone's fault. We're the ones who chose to ignore the
1970s oil crisis. We're the ones who took so long to seek other, alternative
fuel sources.

As
a result, we're stuck with at least another 20 years of 'drill, baby, drill'
because the alternative energy infrastructure simply isn't robust enough to
handle the load.

Did
you read that another deep horizon type drilling was just approved in Alaska?
Since each of the major oil companies has the same exact crisis response plan
(probably authored by one of the holding company PR firms, btw), maybe we'll
have competing oil spills?

It
could be a World Cup of Crude. I can imagine the play-by-play: Chip, the
Alaskan oil spill has really picked up momentum in the past few hours. They're
up to 2 million gallons spilling into the Bering Sea as we speak. I have to believe
we'll begin seeing some seals and polar bears washing up on shore any minute
now.'

'That's
right, John. The Gulf folks must be worried. They've held the top spot for 72
days now and, sure, they've killed thousands of creatures, but this new Alaskan
spill has gotten everyone's attention. This may turn out to be a real horse
race. Or, should I say a real sea otter race?'

But
I digress.

Image and political pundits shouldn't be opining about who did what right or wrong.
That's tactical thinking. They should be talking big picture. They should be
pointing the finger at the entire human race. We should be taking the image hit
on this one.

Fish
and wildlife die. Shorelines are destroyed and the ecosystem teeters on the
brink of collapse. All because, as Vonnegut wrote, 'We're joined at the hip to
the most abused, addictive and destructive drugs of all time: fossil fuels.' 

Jun 17

If Obama’s lost the New York Times, he’s lost the nation

Watching the evening network newscasts one night in the
midst of the Vietnam War morass,
Obama-tv-460x276 President Lyndon Johnson witnessed a withering
assault on his policies by none other than CBC News anchorman Walter Cronkite.
LBJ sighed, wearily shut off the Oval Office TV set and famously quipped, “If
I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the nation.” And, sure enough LBJ had lost
the legendary Cronkite and, in turn, the entire nation. He scored poorly in a
few early 1968 Democratic presidential primaries and decided not to run for
re-election.

Now, fast forward to the ides of June, 2010. President
Barack Obama is himself experiencing a later-day LBJ-Cronkite experience. In
the immediate aftermath of Obama’ televised Oval Office address Wednesday night
on the BP oil spill, both the lead Times
editorial
as well as the rhetoric of its resident, caustic, left-wing liberal
columnist, Maureen Dowd’s positively savaged ‘The One’s’ indecisiveness.

This is Obama’s Vietnam moment. With Dowd, et al in the role
of Cronkite.  If the President has lost the Times, then he’s most certainly lost the nation. Looking ahead to
2012, and borrowing a phrase from the upcoming Wimbledon Tennis Tournament,
it’s ‘Game. Set. Match’ for Mr. Obama. I can already visualize the January 2013
O’Dwyer’s headline reading, ‘Former President joins Edelman’s public
affairs office. Obama to counsel high-level clients on crisis issues. Joins
endless array of other erstwhile Capitol Hill power brokers to provide senior
counsel.’

So, what went so terribly wrong?

Unlike W. and Cheney, who shot first and asked questions
later, Obama vacillates to a fault. He waits. He ponders. He evaluates. He
fiddles while Rome, or in this case, Rome, Louisiana, burns. Obama’s Oval
Office speech was deemed a rhetoric-pocked, action-lacking failure by left-wind
pundits, And, if Dowd and company are unimpressed, god knows what the likes of
O’Reilly, Limbaugh and that ultimate pit bull, Glenn Beck, are saying (note:
for reason pertaining to my personal health and well-being, I will not watch
Mr. Beck. He not only baits in Josef Goebbels-like ways, he also bears an
uncanny physical resemblance to one of the worst clients in Peppercom history.
Note: think purple).

Like many moderates and liberals, I’d hoped that Barack
Obama’s ascendance signaled a new era in politics. I answered the clarion call
of change and voted for B.O. who, sadly, is literally living up to his initials
and stinking up the place.

The BP oil spill and Gulf disaster are the Teapot Dome and
Credit Mobilier of our era. One can also throw in Watergate, Iran-Contra and
Monica Lewinsky’s beret, for good measure. It’s been building to a slow
crescendo since his swearing in, but Barack Obama has clearly self-destructed
in the past few weeks.

I’m now convinced he’s a one-term President. That said,
who’s waiting in the wings? Weird Al Yankowicz?

The combination of a relentless 24×7, news beast salivating
at the thought of savaging any new candidate, along with the limitless personal
wealth available in the private sector, has scared away America’s most talented
managers. What’s left is  a dog’s breakfast of dysfunctional miscreants
and career mediocrities who can neither talk nor shoot straight.

It’s enough to make a blogger ask for a third round of
Sancerre and go gently into that good (and oil-riddled) night. As former New
York Mets Manager Casey Stengel asked of his horrific 1962 squad: “Can anyone
here play the game?”

Jun 14

The most hated Brit since George III?


June 14
I
wasn't around in 1775 to see what our forefathers said about British King
George III and his 'vexatious' taxes, but I've been front and center to witness
many of the vitriolic epithets being hurled at BP CEO Tony Hayward in the
aftermath of the horrific Gulf oil spill.

In
an interesting twist on this mega-disaster, relations between the U.S. and
Britain
have become strained, to say the least. Americans HATE Hayward and BP while (whilst?) Brits aren't pleased
with the way their home-grown multination petroleum concern or its leader are
being pilloried by Obama, pundits and plebeians alike.

It
seems the Brits are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. One
particularly vociferous John Bull blogger criticized our president for his '…
crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan, political, presidential
petulance against a multination conglomerate.' I love alliteration.

The
mayor of London has also weighed in.

Last,
but not least, Peppercom's very-own London-based Carl 'Union Jack' Foster
uncovered another British blog that posited the following:


the contract was American


the contractors were American


the subcontractors were America


the platform was American


the failed blowout preventer was American


BP is simply the brand name for a corporation which is 40 percent American

Still, don't let a few inconvenient things like the facts get in the way of a
handy bit of xenophobic scapegoating, instead of accepting that the great
American public's continued demand for ever-increasing amounts of cheap
gasoline is entirely to blame. Hmmmm.

Rhetoric
aside, Mr. Hayward has done everything possible to make himself and his
organization look dimwitted, heavy-handed and just plain incompetent (i.e. 'I
want my life back.'). And, BP's inability to fix the problem while constantly
underestimating the volume of crude pouring into the Gulf doesn't help (nor did
Heyward's saying '…The Gulf is a big ocean.').

Still,
being the magnanimous blogger that I am, I can see both sides of the story. So,
to allow both parties to air their grievances, I've decided to devote this
week's little-known and seldom-heard RepChatter podcast to the issue*.
Representing the U.S. side of the discussion will be Peppercom's very own
charter member of the Tea Party movement, the xenophobic Edward M. 'Ted'
Birkhahn. And, arguing for Queen and country will be none other than the aforementioned
Carl Foster (a direct descendent of the Duke of Wellington. Or, maybe it was
Walter Wellington. I'm not sure).

Either
way, I'm psyched for what may well very be the second battle of Lexington and
Concord. Tony Hayward may not be King George III, but that doesn't mean we
can't tar and feather him all the same (especially since we can repurpose some
of his own damn BP oil for the tar). We'll post the podcast as soon as it's
recorded.

*If you'd like to participate in this RepChatter podcast recording on June 18 at 12pm EST, please send an email to lbegley@peppercom.com and you'll receive a dial-in number. 

May 28

Three takes on two very different crises


May 28
In
a special Memorial Day edition of RepMan, I’ve asked my roving band of guest
bloggers to posit their collective POVs on two very different crises: the BP
nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico and Sarah, the Duchess of York (aka Fergie) and
her sleazy move to sell access to her ex-hubby, Prince Andrew. I hope you’ll
find their takes of interest, encourage you to post comments and wish one and
all a long, happy and healthy Memorial Day weekend.

Abby Schoffman
reporting from New York on BP’s Twitter nightmare

Just
in case BP doesn’t have enough to deal with right now, the digital world
decided to throw them something else to strategize about –
@BPGlobalPR. No, this isn’t the
company’s PR posse tweeting updates about the latest efforts in the top kill
efforts – you can find that over on
@BP_America’s
stream, the company’s legitimate account.

@BPGlobalPR,
on the other hand, is a humorous imposter filling the Twitterverse with a
different take on the situation. The fake account was started last week and
already has almost 50,000 more followers than the official BP account. Although
some of the tweets
are
a bit vulgar, the
majority of them offer some comic relief, in an “I can’t believe they just said
that” kind of way. But I suppose it’s only humorous if you realize it’s not
actually BP spouting out things like “A bird just stole my sandwich! You
deserve everything you get, nature!!! #bpcares.”

Many
people are mistaking the imposter account for BP’s real account – and they’re
getting pretty worked up about it. Having people think that a company is poking
fun at such a serious, self-created disaster with a satirical Twitter account
could create permanent brand damage. Unlike other cases of fraudulent Twitter
accounts, where they’ve been
taken down, BP is
letting it slide for now. According to a recent
AdAge article, BP is aware of the account
but realizes that people have the right to discuss their feelings about the
situation.

I
have mixed feeling about the account. I like that BP understands that people
are going to say whatever they want about the brand, whether BP likes it or
not. But if some people aren’t realizing it’s a joke, then maybe BP should step
in. That doesn’t mean they have to insist the account is taken down, but they need
to make it clear that the account isn’t affiliated with BP (although I’d argue
that it’s already pretty clear to the majority – or at least I’d hope so).

So,
is this a case of a company realizing that you can’t control everything in the
realm of social media or is it that they just don’t know how to manage a crisis
in the digital space?

Ann Barlow in San Francisco
says BP’s full-page ads are about as effective as its oil-spill containment

We’re
pinning a lot of hope on the top-kill solution, BP’s attempt to halt the
seemingly inexorable flow of oil. 
Meanwhile, BP’s reputation is plummeting about rapidly as the health of
Gulf-area wildlife – and so far the solutions for both have been equally effective.

For
instance, BP has taken out full-page ads in a number of major newspapers across
the country to talk about what it’s doing and where readers can go for more
information. It’s using the opportunity to reinforce its commitment to making
things better, being the good corporate citizen that it is.

Too
bad corporate ego, lawyers and an ability to rationalize almost anything will
prevent them from saying what we all need hear. That they screwed up.  They were arrogant. They were reckless. They
put the chance to make a little more money for shareholders and executives
ahead of the lives of the people, animals and plants across an enormous swath
of water and coastal land.

Unless
and until they can do that, I’d just as soon BP put its money into mopping up
the mess they made.  That’ll clean up
their reputation better than any ad can.
 

Of course, lucky for
the oil company as well as Exxon-Mobil and others that have wreaked 
havoc on the environment through shortcuts, people have short
memories, the media have an even shorter one, and BP has lots and lots of
lawyers. We’ll move on, BP will continue to make billions, and the Gulf Coast
will wonder why everyone forgot them. Maybe BP can take out full-page ads once
in awhile to remind us.

London’s Carl foster
on Fergie, the Royal Family’s version of an oil spill

No
two crises are ever the same, not least because every individual or organization
at the wrong end of a crisis has a different brand promise – the bigger the
brand, the harder the fall. Take the brand promise of Sarah, The Duchess of
York (to give her the official title). She is an aristocratic ex-royal; an
individual from whom you would expect the highest standards of behavior. Well,
it is exactly that expectation that makes a video of her accepting money from a
fake businessman to 'open doors' to her ex-husband, but still close friend,
Prince Andrew, the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and
Investment, all the more shocking. A football agent taking bribes? Who is
surprised? An ex-royal? Well, it's all terribly vulgar.

What
next for Fergie? Her PR people pulled their trusty crisis manual off the shelf
(and when you represent the Duchess of York it never gathers too much dust) and
started following the rules. Step one: Appear contrite, put out a statement
expressing regret and put your actions in context (she is broke). Step two:
Line up a high profile TV appearance, such as Oprah, to get your story out (at
least Oprah will be more effective for Fergie than full page newspaper ads are
for BP). Next you can expect her to lay low for quite sometime, then do some
staged appearances, then do some charity work, or in the case of Fergie, more
charity work.

Hopefully
the Duchess of York will be able to get over this reputation crisis and get
back to the point where she was respected as a businesswoman and admired for
her part in the most amicable divorce in Britain. A lot will depend on her PR
handlers from now on.

May 18

“Hey, honey, forget that weekend in Cape Cod. Let’s take the kids to Alabama!”

I can’t imagine a better tourist destination right now than the pristine beaches of Alabama.
Oil-spill-beach420-420x0 Sure, downtown Baghdad has some great restaurants. And, there’s always the possibility of catching a glimpse of Osama bin Laden in Karachi, Pakistan, but why hassle with foreign intrigue when the Gulf Coast beckons? 

That’s why I’m supporting the Alabama Tourism Department’s brand new, $1.5MM marketing campaign to assure tourists the state’s beaches are clean and open.

I can just imagine the campaign slogans:

-    ‘That’s not oil, silly. Someone just spilled her bottle of sunscreen in the water’
-    ‘Just because our fish are floating face down doesn’t mean they aren’t happy’
-    ‘Alabama’s oil slick waters: the perfect antidote for your arthritic joints’

And, just imagine the added drama of, say, zig-zagging your jet ski in between large oil patches! I could even see ESPN2 covering it as a new type of extreme sport. “Ed, our next contestant is Bunny from La Grange, Illinois. She’ll be attempting to beat Sam from Bowling Green’s time of 2:23 to, and from, what’s left of that oil rig out there on the horizon. And, keep in mind, there must be thousands of dead fish and birds littering her way. This will be a real test indeed. And, the beach crowd is just loving it. Those who haven’t been overcome by the putrid smells are standing and chanting, ‘Bunny! Bunny! Bunny!’”

As for the overall campaign’s theme song? What else but Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water.’

The late P.T. Barnum was credited with saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But, I have to believe even the most intellectually challenged vacationer in America will be hard pressed to visit Alabama’s beaches in the next few weeks or so. That is, unless BP pulls a real marketing coup and offers to underwrite everyone’s vacation costs. “Hey, Honey, guess what? Those nice people at BP say they’ll pay us three dollars for every one we spend on vacation in Alabama. So what if we develop black lung disease? Think of what this will do for our retirement account.”

May 03

It wasn’t our accident


Mar 3 BP CEO Tony Heyward has been beautifully trained to handle the mainstream U.S. media questions in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill.

He begins each interview by thanking the anchors 'for the opportunity,' then makes it quite clear that, while the oil spill wasn't BP's fault, the clean-up is the corporation's responsibility.

He deflected questions wondering why BP so badly miscalculated the initial amount of damage by likening the repair work to 'performing open heart surgery 5,000 feet below the water' (that phrase has some PR person's fingerprints all over it). Finally, when given the chance, he waxes poetic about the 'armada' of ships and 'fleet' of planes BP has harnessed to 'contain' the spill.

From a PR standpoint, BP is making the best of a horrific situation that, excuse me, they caused. Their only mistake is blaming the oil rig owners for the spill (pointing the finger at others never works in these situations, but lawyers insist upon it in order to limit future civil and criminal lawsuits).

All in all, though, Heyward did a nice job staying on message and conveying BP's key message points. When I see a CEO under duress, I always chuckle and think about Brad Irwin, the president of North American operations for Cadbury-Schweppes. Check out this video. The guy was so well trained (or, so poorly trained, depending upon one's P.O.V.) that he was unable to think on his feet and answer any other, industry-specific questions. In the end, he comes cross as a buffoon whose only answer to macro questions is to hawk his new sugarless gum.

A CEO like Heyward can calm fears and inspire confidence in the midst of chaos. An executive such as Irwin can create a mini-crisis by being inflexible, incompetent and inept.

So, here's hoping BP can get the spill contained sooner rather than later (and that Cadbury's in-house PR team and agency partners will study Mr. Heyward's performance). In fact, they should chew on it awhile before they place another high-ranking official on network television.

Apr 29

Drill, baby, drill has its consequences

Sarah Palin, John McCain and their Tea Party/Measuring Up brethren have been chanting 'Drill, baby, drill'  for some time now.


April 29 Wrapping themselves in the American flag, pro-drill Republicans say it's critical we plumb the oil reserves lying off the U.S. shoreline. To do otherwise, they argue, is to keep us held hostage by the Middle East oil cartel. But, at what price?

The horrific BP oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico is just the latest example of what will happen if we continue to recklessly drill, baby, drill. Five billion barrels of oil are pouring daily into the Gulf's waters and slowly, but surely, making their way towards shore. The carnage to wildlife and pristine shorelines may be catastrophic (and, New Orleans may once again bear the brunt of the damage). Making matters even worse, BP can't figure out how to cap the sunken oil rig's three separate leaks.

Republicans paint domestic drilling opponents as unpatriotic tree huggers. Maybe so, but the more companies such as BP are given free reign to drill into America's continental shelf, the more we'll see environmental disasters like the one unfolding in the Gulf.

It's time for even more significant investments in alternative energy sources such as nuclear, wind and solar. Nobody wants to be held hostage by the oil cartel, but right wing hawks like Ms. Palin need to wise up. Otherwise, her multiple children and grandchildren will not only be able to see Russia from their front porch, they'll be able to walk across an oil-caked Bering Sea to get there.