Tuesday, July 17, 2018


President Trump's press conference with Vladimir Putin yesterday has been condemned by members of both the Republican and Democratic Parties.  The media haven't been silent either.  Anderson Cooper said, it was "perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president."  Trump went against conventional wisdom and a body of facts in his embrace of the Russian president.  It left both his supporters and opponents sputtering with rage.  One wonders what Trump was thinking or if he was.  The outcome was to put him in a worse light at home, especially after his faux pas in the UK and his attacks on NATO.  From a PR perspective, Trump shot himself in the head. He has a lot to make up if he decides to run again.  Many American voters hope that he doesn't.

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's Coming 

The day of the robotic car on the racetrack is here.  The autonomous vehicles aren't competitive yet, but it is only a matter of time before they start to show in winners' circles.  This will have a profound PR effect on the sport.  Rather than drivers being the heros, attention will be deflected to pit crews and engineers.  They are the undercard in today's sport-- celebrated but not nearly as much as the human who steers the car.  Will racing lose its luster with self-driving vehicles or will it adapt by using ever more difficult courses that software can't handle well?  Both outcomes are possible. The goal of robotic racing is to develop technology that can be used in street vehicles.  That defines the history of motorsport.  All that is old is new again.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Too Good To Work 

Build-A-Bear Workshops conducted a promotion that was too good to work and now has to deal with the wrath of disappointed customers.  The creative idea was a "pay your age" discount.  Rather than a usual price range of $20 to $35, a parent could get a bear for a three-year-old for just $3 or for a five year old for just $5.  It worked too well.  Long lines of customers formed at its stores and the company was forced to shut down the promotion, leaving scores of potential buyers disappointed and angry.  There was no way of knowing in advance that its idea would turn into a monster.  There are no good ways to forecast foot traffic for a new promotion as Victoria's Secret recently learned.  One proceeds with hope that it will work.  When it does as it did for Build-A-Bear, a company has to be ready to satisfy its customers.  Should Build-A-Bear try the idea in the future, it will be prepared but for now, it has to deal with a PR problem.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Emerging Crisis 

Bayer recently closed on the acquisition of Monsanto, and now, it is faced with an emerging crisis around Monsanto's blockbuster weed killer, Roundup.  A judge in San Francisco has allowed lawsuits to go forward that accuse the company of failing to warn that the chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, causes cancer.  There are hundreds of suits and damages could run into billions.  Monsanto has strenuously denied the substance causes cancer, but now it will have to take its battle to court and hope it can find a sympathetic jury.  Chances are not good it can.  Chemicals today have a poor image in the minds of Americans.  They are no longer the promise of a bright future but substances of pollution and disease.  Monsanto will have to fight that perception at the same time it is proving glyphosate is not a cancer-causing agent.  This could get expensive for Bayer.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

PR Brawl 

President Trump announced the nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, on Monday evening and already a multi-million dollar PR brawl has broken out.  Democrats want to gain the votes of three Republicans against the nominee.  Republicans want to gain the votes of three Democrats for the nominee.  In the worst case scenario, Republicans will have to muster all hands to approve him, including Senator John McCain who is fighting brain cancer in Arizona.  The fight promises to be ugly with no holds barred.  Kavanaugh will have to be extremely careful during Senate hearings if he wants to survive.  There is a lack of open-mindedness on both sides of the nomination, which will make persuasion difficult.  Democratic senators will ask loaded questions and attempt to bait him into error.  He will have to use his rhetorical skills to sidestep verbal grenades and continue toward a seat on the Court.  It won't be pretty but it might make fascinating television.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


The Brazilian soccer player, Neymar, is known for two things -- his brilliance on the field and his over-acting when it comes to injury.  During the World Cup, international audiences had a chance to see his hammy performances as he faked hurt.  They did what one might expect.  They mocked him.  Upon calling out, "Neymar", people fall to the ground and roll about in feigned agony.  For Neymar, it should become clear, if it has not already, that the public is on to his performances as are officials.  To preserve his reputation, Neymar needs to stop faking injury at every slight brush with an opponent.  If he insists he has not been overdoing it, then one might ask how he got into the game of football in the first place.  He would be too delicate to play.  Neymar's coaches need to call him to the side and explain how ridiculous he looks.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Return Of Sanity? 

Britain's decision to leave the EU wasn't right from the moment it was voted on.  Now that the secretary for Brexit has abruptly left his post in the UK, there is a chance for sanity to return.  The country stood to lose far more than it gained from the rupture.  It was as harebrained as Trump's decision to begin trade wars with allies.  It makes one wonder what has happened to the political world.  Democracy is under threat.  Strong rulers have risen to bend nations to their will.  Free expression has been constrained in one country after another.  Given economic strength, it should be the best of times.  It isn't.

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