When a Public Relations Firm, a Publicist and/or PR campaign is launched, it is generally to make sure the right message gets out .If done properly, the brand or individual benefitting should garner tons of positive and of course “free” exposure.
Unfortunately, like any other industry, pratitioners of Public Relations may not always deliver the anticipated results. In some cases some PR people believe that simply putting out a press release is their entire job. Well, I’m here to say that writing the release is just half the battle. When a PR campaign is not fully explored or managed improperly – with only short term benefits superseding the long term brand value, there could be problems.
The aforementioned scenario brings me to the point of this post: The case of Rapper 50 Cent aka Curtis Jackson vs Yum Brands’ (Taco Bell). For those that might not know, the two are currently involved in a lawsuit -that began with press release.
Here’s what happened:
Taco Bell put out a press release (open letter) over the wires and in it, they request 50 cent to drive to one of their chains, rap his order and then change his name to 79, 89 or 99 Cent, just for the day. In turn, the Yum Brands chain would donate $10,000 to the charity of his choice. As the story begins to pick up buzz on local tv and e online, “Fiddy” announces that he had not been consulted by the marketer files a lawsuit.
As the drama continues, Mr. Jackson’s Lawyer, Peter Raymond of Reed Smith, explains that his client gets good money for endorsements and when he decides to support something, he likes to control it pretty closely. The basis for the lawsuit according to “Fiddy’s” camp is that the press release made it appear that Taco Bell had consent for a co-promotion – when they did not. Also, and most importantly – it is being described as trademark infringement.
Now, Taco Bell is all mad and supposedly counter sues – and in their legal papers refer to Mr. Jackson (Fiddy) as someone who uses his “colorful past to cultivate a public image of belligerence and arrogance.” It also describes Mr. Jackson as having a “well-publicized track record of making threats, starting feuds and filing lawsuits.”
My question: If Taco Bell sees “Fiddy” as having that kind of persona, why would they want to affiliate their brand with him in the first place? My take is if they thought he was such a thug and someone not warranting of association with their brand, they probably should have never sent out the release in the first place. Finally, it is my understanding that when a co-promotional campaign is launched – all parties should be in the loop – that would be common courtesy. It also gives both parties an opportunity to negotiate and come up with a win/win for everyone and avoid the sort of post-event explosion.
As someone that has had experience working on brand image and messaging, this looks to me like a case of speedy PR. The final verdict will be a good case study – as we move into an age of Branding on and offline. As we witnessed in our recent Presidential campaign, how a candidate/brand is positioned can make a world of difference in how people perceive it. The process of vetting is so important when it comes to having a competitive edge or staying on message.
Well, as for me, I still enjoy of good taco – But aye CHIHUAHUA dudes!
So, what do you all think about this controversy, is for the dawgs?!?!?