Publicity Circus

American Idol beats out JetBlue and Schick with the week's most effective PR scam.

 Publicity Circus

A veteran press agent assesses the week in ballyhoo.

FAKE FEUD:  Desperate for attention after ratings for last year’s duo of big butt (JLo) and big lips (Steven Tyler) began dropping faster than Justin Bieber’s voice, American Idol took a page from the WWE playbook and decided  to stage what appeared to be a catfight between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicky Minaj. TMZ just happened to be on the scene when pink fright-wigged Ms. Minaj raised a loud ruckus, shouting, “If I had a gun, I would shoot the bitch.” Ms. Carey whimpered on The View the next day that she was hiring “extra security”—hopefully smarter than the protection she had in Don’t Mess With The Zohan. The most rattled anybody gets in the TMZ video is Keith Urban holding up his hands for a few seconds (“It wasn’t me, boss!”), and rolling his chair back slightly. The media are always hungry for a nice juicy cut of beef, and the battle made the front page of the Daily News, along with numerous other venues. We may not be able to recall the champion of last season’s Idol—the finale was down 32 percent in viewership—but the show’s PR team deserves a round of applause.
Flackery Index: 5.

I’M OUTTA HERE: You can blame two of the Baldwin Bros for inspiring JetBlue’s new “Election Protection” promotion. The airline is giving away 1,006 round-trip tickets to any one of their 21 international destinations to registered voters on their site if the presidential candidate of their choice is not elected on November 6. Who can forget Alec in 2004, declaring that he would bolt for Canada if George W. Bush were re-elected? We’ve seen him a few times on 30 Rock since then. Not to be outdone in pining for foreign citizenship, Alec’s brother Stephen, star of Bio-Dome, threatened to ditch the states if Barack Obama were elected in 2008. For all we know he followed through on the threat; the guy has scarcely been heard of since. So what about JetBlue? Jumping on the Presidential campaign extremist bandwagon may have paid off handsomely in press coverage, but we’d trade all those round-trip tickets for three one-way tickets for the Kardashian sisters.
Flackery Index: 2

JAMES BOND TAKES A LEAK: How do you tell if a song has been really “leaked” by pirates on the Internet or not? Go right to the PR department of the label—if they are as angry as a beehive, then odds are it was pirate booty. So it was interesting when Adele’s theme song for the new James Bond movie “leaked” last week, that the Columbia Records PR department went dead silent about the incident—and more interesting still when the song’s producer and co-writer Paul Epworth practically endorsed the thievery on Twitter: “I hear a short excerpt of “Skyfall” leaked … I can’t wait for everyone to hear the whole thing because Adele’s performance is jaw dropping.” Remember, conspiracy theorists, nothing’s an accident!
Flackery Index: 2.

SCHICK AND THE ’STACHE: Do the math on this one—in one of the few reasons to show up at Citi Field last month, legendary Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez got his famous mustache shaved off by a barber outside the stadium before a game. Schick jumped in to donate $10,000 to the Jacquelyn Hernandez Adult Day Health Center in honor of his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. So when the barber whipped out his blade in front of reporters, TV cameras, bloggers, and fans, the organizers made sure Keith had a nice big Schick Turbo logo sewn on his bib right where everyone could see it. With all that massive coverage, Schick got at least $500 worth of advertising time per whisker, a veritable bargain for a $10,000 donation!
Flackery Index: 3.

Drew Kerr, a longtime practitioner of the dark arts of public relations, is the founder and president of Four Corners Communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @drewkerr.