Corporate Comms – What Wouldn’t You Do?

It’s a question of ethics – not the county to the north-east of London – no, the whole moral rightness and wrongness deal.

At various points in what has passed for a career, I have been asked the question ‘is there anything you wouldn’t handle communications for?’ (I’m aware that this is grammatically lacking and should be phrased ‘is there any brand, company or organisation for whom you would not manage a communications strategy’ but that wasn’t the question. Lesson #1 for today: No-one likes a clever d*ck.)

Well. Mostly, my answers have been flippant. Deodorants. Catfood. Superglue. Gentlemen’s shaving requisites. And why – because they are all as dull as penguins. No fun whatsoever. And I know, that in answering the questions in this way, that I’m not endearing myself to the questioner.

But the truth is, what some may see as morally unsound stuff – fags, booze, chips – I have no real problem with. For instance – and seriously for a moment here – I’d absolutely love to work on a tobacco brand. Yes I’m aware it’s mostly issues management (and that’s not a problem) but it’s also a massive opportunity. I was having a beer in Zagreb recently – where smoking is still vaguely tolerated – and there, on the table, was a black ashtray with a red triangle on it. Now I’m a committed Marlboro man, but even had I not been, I would have recognised it. But it gets by all the rules – no overt branding, no name, no guidance, no relevance (apart from it being an ashtray, obviously) – it works because the brand itself is so strong.  That’s genius.

As an aside, there’s a lesson for us all here, no matter what we work on. How would you promote your brand, company or organisation (or your clients’ etc etc etc) if it were suddenly decided that you couldn’t promote it through any traditional means. I think that if we all focused on that question as an intellectual exercise, then our current efforts would probably be that much stronger. And we’d probably have the influence on brand/corporate strategy that we so obviously lack currently.

Anyway. Just this week, right. The one thing that I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. A very long bargepole. Even if I was wearing gloves. And lead body armour.

Nick Griffin.  The BNP.

As far as I can see, there’s two people handling their comms – John Walker and Simon Darby. C’mon, PRWeek – I think a decent, in-depth interview with them – and their views on spin and obfuscation – would be quite enlightening. And a salutory lesson to the rest of us. And fairly topical, given Mr Griffin’s impending appearance on Question Time.

Has the world gone completely insane?

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