Look What ‘PR’ Makes Taylor Do – she’s not ‘really’ dead…

I’ll admit, I’m a self-confessed Taylor Swift fan – I’m a ‘Swiftie’ – and yes, I’m proud of it.

However, if you’re not a fan and have absolutely zero interest in her (or her cats or ‘squad’) then first of all: we can’t be friends. Second: don’t worry, this won’t be some typical fan-girl blog… but when one of the most influential, successful and talked about music-moguls in the WORLD, just released her new album titled ‘REPUTATION’ and we have been set the task to write PR Blogs?

Well, this was a no-brainer (and I’m joking about my first point, promise!)

Thumbs up Taylor Swift

Yes, it can be said that I’ve been through every ‘Swift era’; from the ‘old’ guitar-playing, curly-haired, country teen singing about Romeo and Juliet, to the sassy pop-star singing about the magical feelings of turning 22, to the 2014 Taylor who asked us all to ‘shake off’ the ‘haters and the players’ to the rebranded, shady ‘new’ “I don’t give af” DIVA that she is today.

So, how did Taylor manage to do this?

The answer is simple: she has a helluva-mighty PR team.

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Let’s take it back to the beginning… and THAT Kanye West infamous interruption at the 2009 VMAs when Taylor won Best Female Video. Kanye rolled up (sunglasses firmly on his head) and took her microphone “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! All time!” (#ClassicKanye).

I’ll never forget Beyoncé’s shocked reaction, “Oh Kanye. Oh God.”

Oh God indeed. He was then booed off by the audience.

Kanye West Taylor Swift VMAs

Fast forward through the years and things had improved between the pair.

That is, until good ol’ Kanye strikes again. *cue eye-roll emoji here*

This time, in a reference about Tay in his 2016 song ‘Famous’ he claimed – “I made that b**** famous.” Swifty clearly wasn’t happy and called Kanye out at the GRAMMY’S (as you do). However, everybody knows Kim Kardashian, right?

Kanye’s wife who has a gazillion social media followers.

Kim claimed Taylor had approved the line and posted Snapchat videos of Kanye discussing one part of the song with Taylor… although this ‘evidence’ only showed Tay hearing one particular lyric.

“I swear I don’t love the drama – it loves me!” a lyric that sums up the Taylor Swift of Reputation, according to Rolling Stones.

Taylor’s nice girl ‘reputation’ in the public eye hit a low when Kanye and Kim ‘outed’ her and she was denounced the worst thing you could call someone in our modern-digital-era: a SNAKE *cue snake emoji*

This snake emoji followed Taylor on social media – no matter what she posted, she would be in-undated with thousands of snakes… so much so, Taylor was the first Instagram user in the world to disable comments from all posts.

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Then the most dramatic day of Taylor Swift history happened.

“They never see me coming – what I do next…” another lyric from Reputation (there’s a pattern forming…)

Described by the media as a “digital tsunami”, Swifty removed not just comments, but EVERYTHING on social media. Zero posts, tweets and unfollowed everybody in the process, leaving her 95.4 million Twitter followers, 102 million Instagram followers and 838,458 Facebook fans left in a limbo.

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 THEN THE SECOND MOST DRAMATIC DAY IN THE HISTORY OF TAYLOR SWIFT HAPPENED.

Her social media all at once posted a cryptic video of, well you’ve guessed it, a SNAKE.

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 Taylor repeats in her new album “my Reputation’s never been worse so…” but let’s not forget she “never goes out of style” and she’s not wrong. No matter what ‘bad rep’ Taylor Swift gets – there is definitely “no such thing as bad publicity” to the PR geniuses at Brand T-Swizzle who can spin just about anything.

Just like the omnipresent snakes on Taylor’s social platforms – Swifty’s team recognised she needed to ‘shed her skin’ crafting and re-inventing her with a new image (and attitude) in order to sell a multi-million number of her new albums.

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The album title ‘Reputation’ was a hint that she planned to address some of the controversies she’s dealt with in the past, and her album cover literally GLORIFIES the media with its newspaper style and use of classic font. This, as an iota (or two fingers), to the Media who have portrayed her in the light they have, since 2009.

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The ‘Taylor Swift’ we know isn’t just a person – she’s a BRAND, a case-study, a re-invention of character.

Look What You Made Me Do – the most-anticipated song of the year was released – and people were SHOOK by her lyrics directly addressing both Kanye West, and the Mass Media in general:

“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now….

WHY?

Oh, ‘cause she’s DEAD”

Out with the old Taylor and in with the new, alongside an epic music video even mocking her previous personnas and literally OWNING what people were saying negatively about it her through the form of…. ‘the snake.’

Taylor Swift SNAKE

“I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. I mean, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” – indeed she does, or her PR team do anyways.

This comeback single is still being talked about, and hit Number 1 on worldwide iTunes for a straight consecutive 3 weeks, breaking all kinds of streaming service records in the process.

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Vanity Fair stated recently how social media has replaced the ‘traditional celebrity publicist,’ when a musician can announce a world tour through the form of a single tweet.

What did Taylor Swift do? Oh… she just announced her biggest world tour to date over the social media she deleted herself off previously. (You’re probs asking how I’ve kept up with all this…)

In total, Ticketmaster stated 2.5 million to 3 million tickets for the 44-date tour (including stops in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) sold out within minutes.

THIS is why Taylor Swift WINS at life basically.

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“Make no mistake, this girl’s love affair with DRAMA is alive and well,” according to Rolling Stones… but it also conveniently helps her sell just about anything she puts her name to.

Her life has evolved into a PR minefield, but to sum up this ‘drama’ of Taylor Swift to date…

I refer back to my title of this blog post:

Look what ‘PR’ makes Taylor do – she certainly is NOT dead.

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.

Forget The Greatest Showman – was P.T Barnum ‘The Greatest SPINman’ of all time?

If you haven’t been aware of The Greatest Showman bubble we’ve all been living in since Christmas, do you even own a phone with acceptable 3G coverage? (or clearly you haven’t been paying the Wifi bill in your student houses).

Because if Hugh Jackman Gifs are not dominating your Twitter, or Zac Efron all up on your Facebook newsfeeds, then you’ve definitely heard the glorious soundtrack that’s been number 1 on iTunes for as long as Apple have had, well, an apple, as their logo.

For those of you who weren’t like me and went to see the musical phenomenon 3 times… yes, you did read that right (“the biggest-grossing original live-action musical EVER”)!

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But let me assure you, there are *no spoilers* in this Blog.

However, what this blog is written about is the very man (played by the delightful Hugh Jackman) that this global movie is ‘loosely’ based on – the infamous life of the legendary showman and crowd-pleaser Phineas T Barnum, which many historical critics argue is “the man who in the 19th century possibly invented entertainment as we know it today.”

He may have invented entertainment, but he also invented his own style of questionable PR.

A man full of bigger-than-life ideas – Barnum marketed to an audience interested in mass, and often crass, entertainment regardless of how factual or ethical such displays were.

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With the real question being… did PT Barnum use PR in an ethical way? Especially, when The Greatest Showman – the movie – is feel-good, joyful viewing, painting a celebratory “body-positive evangelism for diversity” and celebrating those in the world who are unashamedly different.

These different people – the ‘human freaks’ – in “the movie about a circus” have their backgrounds and anatomical achievements humorously exaggerated just a trifle by PT… for publicity purposes (of course). As the famous lyrics are musically sung by the All-Star cast – “impossible comes true… this is the greatest show.”

Greatest Showman Gif

Impressively, the ‘Irish Giant’ on the advertising posters wasn’t actually Irish. But the circus audience didn’t know that one… as PT says in the movie “the press will love it!”

However, the arguable thing about the real Barnum recorded in history, is that he was known to have presented “freakishness” in the form of “living curiosities” through active exploitation.

And although it’s not a spoiler, this explains why the movie shows so angry protesters outside the circus after every performance.

Unlike in the movie, which in musical style rejoices “I am me, I am who I’m meant to be” about the uniqueness of human beings, Barnum and his colleagues are said to have created ethnic stereotypes when cordoning off this swath of humanity as “different”.

The Guardian writes: “Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has been frequently likened by political pundits to PT Barnum. A professional bullshitter with a penchant for loud rhetoric, fake news and racial prejudice? He doesn’t play down the comparison.”

So Donald Trump is the new PT Barnum?

I suppose the White House HAS been actively referred to as a ‘Circus’ in the past year…

In 1865, Barnum’s book Humbugs of the World aimed to inform the public he wasn’t a con-man – that he hadn’t achieved his rags-to-riches success story by scamming the public.

He wrote: “There are various trades and occupations which need only notoriety to insure success,” he claimed – concluding no harm, no foul, so long as at the end of the day customers felt like they got their money’s worth.

As the song suggests from the movie – “It’s everything you ever want, it’s everything you ever need.”

I could go as far as to say PT Barnum was a remarkable publicity man who knew how to work Public Relations in his career… to HIS advantage. (Maybe just not so much the people he caught in his webs whilst spinning whatever he could to achieve whatever he wanted).

The Greatest Showman musical has just reached a whopping $160.766m domestic total in the cinema, and let’s be honest ‘The Greatest Showman’ is what you will find – in PT Barnum or in Hugh Jackman’s efforts alone –  whether you agree with it or not.

It’s a thumbs up from me. 

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Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University.  LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell

‘The Final Hour’ – a step too far for Northern Ireland?

We all know, and/or have visited, the Titanic Quarter in Belfast by now.

Jam-packed with cameras, selfie sticks and groups from all over the world on a daily basis, Tourists flock to NI’s beloved Titanic Belfast every week. An iconic location next to the Titanic Slipways, Harland and Wolff, and Hamilton Graving Dock – the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.

No surprise it was crowned “World’s Leading Tourist Attraction” at the World Travel Awards in 2016. A recent report found that Titanic Belfast generated £105 million in additional tourism spend for the Northern Ireland economy. And if anything, as time goes on, the Titanic Quarter will become even more famous and an even bigger source of merchandising revenue for Northern Ireland.

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But have NI in all its global fascination and quest for continued Tourism, gone a step too far this time?

Certainly, with all of this said, it can be very easy to forget this is all based on one of the biggest sea tragedies in history.

Thus, many think the company ‘Timescape’ have lost their minds with the announcement they are bringing their latest business venture to Castle Street, Belfast – The Titanic: The Final Hour.

A Titanic themed ‘escape room’ game which will see “teams of up to 6 given an hour to try escape a simulation of the stricken liner.”

At £18 per person ticket, Timescape advertise the experience as: “It’s 11:39pm on April 14, 1912 and you’re on the Captain’s Bridge at the helm of the RMS Titanic. Suddenly, the words ring out, ‘Iceberg, right ahead’. The placid sound of night is broken forever. You and your shipmates try desperately to avoid the iceberg but are unable.

Now you only have 60 minutes to seal the water tight doors, radio for help, put on your lifejackets; release the davits and get every woman and child into the lifeboats.

You must hurry but must not panic as the water rises and time runs out.

*NO WATER IS INVOLVED IN THIS EXPERIENCE*”

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Before it arrives in December, there has already been public outcry, with The Belfast Telegraph reporting the objectionable views from the President of the British Titanic Society about this latest revenue adventure: “My personal thoughts are that this is a very distasteful idea, and highly disrespectful to the memory of those who died.

The Titanic disaster was not a game.”

Timescape owners however, maintain they have “taken great care to be respectful to those who perished. Our room and its props are as historically accurate as possible, and Titanic enthusiasts will surely be impressed with the level of detail.

The Titanic is a huge part of our own heritage and history and we are aiming to further enrich that, here, right in the heart of Belfast city.”

The Belfast Telegraph Editor’s viewpoint comments that “many people will feel the creation of a Titanic ‘escape room’ in a Belfast entertainment complex trampling on the graves of the 1,500 people who perished when the ship was lost more than a century ago.

It may seem an attractive commercial theme to those behind the idea, but it is really rather distasteful.

Titanic room.
Titanic room.

We should remember this tragedy with due respect, especially given the doomed vessel’s association with the city.”

BBC even got hold of the story and reported on their website that “Belfast have always had an ambiguous relationship with the Titanic, unsure of how to deal with the memory of the ship which sank. As time passed, a feeling of pride in the construction of the ship overcame any hesitancy to embrace the liner, its legacy and its financial potential.”

Pride perhaps, but it goes without saying, this is not a great start for a brand new business adventure; damaged with bad publicity, public concern and major criticism, before this “fun, adrenaline raising activity” even opens.

Timescape’s promotion to Tourists is: “Don’t miss out on the Titanic room to experience a part of Belfast’s history in a totally unique way.”

Unique, indeed.

Would you play this game?

(I think it’s safe to say Leonardo DiCaprio will not be taking part).

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.

Are you afraid of the dark… or afraid of Moz?

Like many people, I do await the Christmas TV ‘adverts’ around this time of year.

It’s that time of the year where high street stores compete in the sphere of PR, Advertising, and Marketing, (and in most cases all three), for the most original Christmas idea – trying to encourage consumers to ultimately go to their stores and spend a lot of well, money.

But in our modern digital age, these are no longer ‘just an advert’ between X Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here these days.

In particular, anticipation for the ‘new John Lewis Christmas Ad’ has become public fascination with a multi-mix media communication operations behind it to generate as much publicity as possible; promoting with the biggest companies and brands such as Google, Spotify, Whatsapp, Sky and teaming up with the children’s charity Barnardos, with 10% of proceeds from merchandise of cuddly toys and mugs, going to young child carers.

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A spinning wheel of publicity, to reach as many people as possible, to get as many people talking abut you as possible, and to build excitement in as many people as possible, at the busiest time of the year.

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Previous John Lewis campaigns have included the compelling stories of the Man on the Moon, Monty the Penguin and Buster the trampoline bouncing Boxer; a recurring theme to center on emotional stories, and remove branding to ensure attention from a captivated audience.

Their latest campaign introduces us to the lovable Moz the Monster, which focuses on the tale of a little boy and his friendship with an imaginary monster living under his bed.

I have to admit, on first watching the advert, I felt underwhelmed from the lack of “Christmassy feelings” I got, and had to watch it a few times to understand what the message of the campaign was.

But as always, with major publicity, these campaigns don’t always please everyone.

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And as it turns out, not everyone is entirely happy with poor Moz.

Since the ad has aired, many parents have aired their concerns, with tweets joking “John Lewis putting the fear in every child thinking there is a monster under their bed! 10/10 guys.”

One annoyed parent also tweeted: “If your child is struggling with sleep related psychological trauma… John Lewis suggests you need to make them wait til Christmas for a bloomin’ night light.”

However, the glorious world of PR allows many to take on your own perceptions to the messages we receive from the media on a daily basis.

John Lewis’ tale is all about imagination.

My own interpretation is that to beat his fear of the dark, Joe creates an imaginary friend to overcome this fear… (albeit losing his recommended 8 hours sleep in the process).

But still, I believe the clever folk behind the John Lewis spinning machine aimed for the ad to be a very heart-warming, compelling story once again.

As always, parodies have made their way onto YouTube with millions of views, a nightlight featured in the ad was sold out online the next morning and #MozTheMonster and #JohnLewisChristmasAd was the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter, whilst many good-humored people also jumped on the bandwagon….

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Asking my fellow peers how much they thought cost to make the ad, the general answer was £500,000 to £1 million.

Add another £6 million… and the advert is reported to have cost a whopping £7 million to make!

Many are outraged to hear of such an expense, with public opinion being that instead of spending so much money on ‘one ad’ (that is ‘lackluster’ in general) this money could actually have been put to good use and given to charity – that the 10% ‘proceeds of merch’ to Barnardo’s just doesn’t cover it.

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However, brands are expected to spend a record £6 BILLION on Christmas advertising this year. This according to the Advertising Association, who state it is being driven by intense market competition, especially within the retail sector, and the rise of big-budget campaigns.

It believes spending on ads has jumped nearly 40% in just 7 years!

But with the likes of the delightful Ed Sheeran jumping on the Moz bandwagon – (and who doesn’t like Ed Sheeran these days?) is easy and cheap publicity in itself.

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So, was £7 million worth it on good ol’ Moz? Not Christmassy enough? Too scary for children?

I think my overall call to action is to start a petition to get the wee Man OFF the Moon for 2018.

Yup. (I will be posting the link for you all to sign it).

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.