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.

Jun 21

Bill, baby, bill

Hatred unites America. Think about it. We hated Japan after Pearl Harbor. We hated bin Laden
PA-9051085 in the aftermath of 9/11. And, boy oh boy, do we sure hate BP’s Tony Hayward after this past weekend’s YachtingGate. In fact, a quick perusal of Sunday-morning talk shows revealed consensus among right and left-wing pundits, politicos and poseurs alike. Each and every ‘expert’ agreed the Isle of Wight sail put the proverbial final nail in Hayward’s BP career. And, each and every expert alike opined that Hayward’s malaprops, misdeeds and maladroit management precluded a ‘second career’ as a PR counselor. Wrong!

Give it a year or two, and I guarantee Mr. Hayward will be working for either the world’s largest, independent public relations firm or one of the scores of lookalike holding company PR firms.  Why? There’s a variety of reasons:

1.) Big agencies absolutely fawn over ex-CEOs, governors, White House press secretaries, senators, or heads of the EPA, DEP or Homeland Security, respectively. Why? Because their names attract deep-pocketed, multinational clients like bees to honey.

2.) “The rich are not like you and me,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. Neither are the uber-powerful. They move in rarified circles not open to mere mortals like you and me. Hayward’s Rolodex alone is worth millions of dollars.
3.) Hayward’s Rolodex = Access. And, access equals power in Washington, D.C., New York and elsewhere. Hayward can open doors with a single e-mail or phone call.
4.) Large agencies can bill Hayward’s time at unconscionably outrageous hourly rates. Hayward = profits for cash-starved large agencies.

I can even visualize Mr. Hayward’s business card in my mind. It will read: ‘Tony Hayward. Energy sector/sustainability strategist.’

And, despite his horrific performance in the current disaster, boards of directors will nonetheless line up to retain Hayward’s counsel. Why? Because, in a year or so, Hayward will have penned his autobiography (suggested working titles; “I Wanted My Life Back” or ‘The Gulf Is a Big Ocean’). He’ll have made the rounds of the talk shows, professing sincere regret for his mistakes, explaining how his forced retirement provided a much-needed respite for soul-searching and introspection and, (and, this is the game-changer) that he now wants to share what’s he learned with businesspeople and politicians around the world so they don’t make the same mistakes he did. It’s absolutely brilliant. And, I guarantee he’s already formulated the strategy.

So, please, Argentina, don’t cry for Tony. His future is as bright as the Gulf waters are murky. And his wallet will be as green as the Gulf waters are black. Tony Baloney may be a phony. But, he’ll be a very well-compensated big PR agency phony soon enough.