Monday, September 22, 2008

Great PR Scams of Our Time #2 -- "The Special Delivery Package With A Message"

The second in a periodic series about astonishing public relations scams perpetrated by various notables desperate to get the almighty hit for their clients.

In a moment of total quiet and solitude, when all is peaceful and harmonious in the world, did you ever sit back and say to yourself:

"It's such a shame that Alec Baldwin felt suicidal after that screaming tirade voice mail he left for his daughter was leaked to the public. If I sent him 20 cases of my client's perfumed soap to wash his mouth out, not only will he get the message about using that kind of language, but I've got to alert the media what a public service I have performed!"

If you have not thought about taking this route to promote your client's cleaning product, hey, what's wrong with you? You must immediately find Alec's address in the Hamptons and ship those little bars of detergent right there, while at the same time keeping your finger dialing the NY Post's city desk.

About as priceless and suspicious as the previously posted deli polls, sending the symbolic special delivery package to a celebrity or politician was an amusing periodic feature in New York City's gossip columns through the 90's. Clearly related to the genuinely humanitarian gesture of giving a homeless guy a job after reading about their Good Samaritan rescue effort in the local tabloid -- but far more dubious -- these "packages" were usually big and came with that unique message that only finding a horse's head in your bed could rival.

For example, for the local politician getting caught in a growing scandal? Announce you're sending them 100 bottles of your client's headache relief pills. Celebrity broke up with her boyfriend? Plant an item that you're shipping 30 DVD's of your client's cable series to get their minds off their heartbreak.

You see, it was never good enough to send one item to a notable person, when a quantity of at least 25 was necessary to make such a grand gesture.

And then there was that question of where to mail all this stuff. Sure, it was easy to look up the corporate headquarters for those CEO targets, but just where to send the three dozen five-year subscriptions of Psychology Today to Tom Cruise after pouncing on Brooke Shields?

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