JaMarcus Russell's four-yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet with nine seconds left in LSU's 28-24 win over Tennessee has been nominated for the Pontiac Game Changing Performance this week. No no, not that. We are talking about the tactic of the week in the public relations game. And here it is: Somebody – and we are not totally certain who – tried an intriguing new PR approach last weekend in the Southern New Jersey community of Barclay Farm. Someone - and we are not totally certain who – left a severed pig’s head at the front door of local gadfly Alene Ammond.
Okay, by way of a little background: When the PR industry gets involved in a David vs. Goliath battle, pitting community activists against corporations or the government, guess whose side we usually take? Unless David happens to be David Geffen or David Rockefeller, he can’t afford us. So we all rush to Goliath’s side with our bags of tricks -- some preliminary research, a SWOT analysis, soft-soundings of local press, a list of charities favored by politicos, two dogs, five ponies.
See, Goliath is totally misunderstood and underrepresented. And if democracy means anything, if fair play and free speech still exists in this country, Goliath has a right to hire us. For $50,000 a month (and reasonable expenses, of course), Goliath will get every billable-hour-churning tactic we can throw at his problem, e.g. press packets, VNRs, testimonials, the works. In fact, if he's got just a little "extra," we'll get "creative."
Well, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, this Ammond person has battled government officials in Camden County and Cherry Hill, alleging fraudulent deals with developers, cozy arrangements with adult-video merchants, and insensitivity to community needs. To Goliath, she's a damn nuisance.
So imagine, if you will, the PR challenge. Objectives: 1. Neutralize Ammond. 2. Create a memorable symbol that wards off future errant activists. 3. Make sure the character is kid friendly. 4. Ensure that all program deliverables are biodegradable.
Hmmmm. "How 'bout a pig's head?!!!!"
Now for the record, this campaign has/had "legs." Sources have it that the unnamed firm is considering a blog, describing his travels throughout the country in a Winnebago. The pig would sprinkle throughout his blog posts clever clues to his identity. This will engage members of the community in a kind of treasure hunt. Nowadays, you just have to involve the public.
Finally, just when the campaign has reached fever pitch, the mysterious company’s CEO should appear at a Board of Freeholders meeting, wearing the pig-head over his own, with a promise to reveal his identity during his testimony. TV news outlets would simply have to cover it live. Just as the head is about to be removed, an assembly of Hooters waitresses would appear, with platters of pork ribs for the freeholders and their staffs to consume while debating the pig’s project. The community activists would have nothing to counter this, and would slink away, humiliated, and thus cede the pig his wishes by default.
Brilliant! This is surely a Silver Anvil winner in the making.
Actually, doing stuff like that used to be pretty common in Trinidad and Tobago - a play on the superstitions of the times. Some still work. Crabs in front of someone's house with lit black candles on their backs. A cows head in front of a high school before an intense rivalry soccer match. Things like that.
Maybe there's some Louisiana influence here. A displaced Katrina victim making their way around with a nice twist on PR.
Or maybe it's someone who doesn't like pork. Like Osama bin Laden. O.o