Posted by Kailey Astor Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The web page opens with a quote from Nelson Mandela. The company claims it is taking the lead in fighting deadly diseases in Africa. In the News Archives, the top story describes a company announcement of a $2 million project to reduce poverty in Tanzania. The Clinton Global Initiative was the politically-correct venue at which this gift was proclaimed. The company is De Beers, the 118-year-old South African cartel which supplies 60 percent of all the diamonds in the world.
But like a schoolgirl from Encino, they lost it over Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio’s upcoming “Blood Diamond” sounds like sure Oscar bait. It will be released in December. Amnesty International is expected to get proceeds from the benefit premiere. It’s a story based on recent history: In the late 90s, Sierra Leone’s diamond mines were taken over by a bloodthirsty militia, which purchased weapons with the booty and used them to wage civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced 2 million. DiCaprio plays a fictional mercenary who gets caught up in the mayhem.
According to the LA Times, DeBeers and the World Diamond Council together hired a phalanx of PR agencies, including the high-priced Sitrick & Co. to combat any impression left by this yet-unseen film that the diamond you were thinking of buying your honey financed human rights abuses.
These unromantic notions might suppress Christmas and Valentine’s diamond sales, DeBeers CEO Jonathan Oppenheimer fretted. He asked the filmmakers to include a disclaimer to the effect that everything’s okay now – all the bad diamonds are gone. The filmmakers declined. So the industry ordered up a multi-million dollar advertising and PR campaign aimed at assuring consumers that a diamond is still nothing more, and nothing less, than “the crystalline Revelator of the achromatic white light of Heaven.”
So far, the PR campaign has been a gem – for Leonardo DiCaprio, “Blood Diamond” and Amnesty International. For the diamond merchants—not so much. About the campaign, Amnesty International’s celebrity outreach director said, “Oddly, none of this is working in their favor. Everyone is asking, ‘Why are they doing this? What do they fear?’”
DeBeers wanted to call attention to the Kimberley Process, which was designed to assure diamond buyers that their purchases were murder-free. Attention has been paid. Now everyone knows that Amnesty International and the U.S. government believe the Kimberley Process is ineffective because it relies on taking the diamond importers’ claims on faith. The General Accounting Office last month criticized the Department of Homeland Security for failing to certify whether diamonds entering the U.S. are really from where their certification documents say they’re from. Homeland Security announced last week it will upgrade its inspections.
Meanwhile through a spokesman DiCaprio thanked the diamond industry for helping publicize his film. Amnesty International went further and said the industry’s response to the film has raised consumer awareness of the illicit diamond trade to levels much higher than when the civil war in Sierra Leone was in full cry and blood diamonds flooded the market.
A cashiers’ check equaling half the amount of money to be spent on the DeBeers and World Diamond Council’s campaigns, made out to Amnesty International, might have been the better PR play, in retrospect. But, alas, good PR advice, like a diamond, is rare.
How PR Got Locked Out of the Web Revolution. Is Its Image Repairable?
This isn’t about what PR was forty years ago, or even ten. It’s certainly not about the once press-service function that was Ivy Lee. It’s not even about the marketing function that is Fleishman-Hillard, Weber Shandwick, Edelman, Ogilvy, Ruder Finn, GolinHarris or 99 percent of the agencies out there. This is about PR and its role on the web. This chronicles how the PR industry was until recently steamrolling its latest thing with total assuredness and bravado. Note “was.”
Now by way of a little background, this article was going to be titled, “PR Goose that Laid Golden Egg Found Dead.” Catchy, but it does tend to discount the gravity of the situation. It’s this: The huge promise that was PR’s “Me2Revolution,” seems all but a memory now. DAMN! And we were all gonna be rich! Well, maybe not tech-bubble filthy rich but certainly well above Lake Webegone average. PR’s web savvy geeks dreamt of McMansions, financial security, and lives of speaking engagements, honors and applause. Jeremy Pepper, Scott Baradell, David Parmet, Tom Biro, Shel Holtz, et al., all thought they had a seat at the table. All were cocksure humming “I want my MTV” about Web 2.0. “That ain't workin', that's the way you do it; Money for nothin' and your chicks for free.” But what was once so cool has turned out to be the business equivalent of the Beavis and Butthead experience.
Where are they now? One sentence: Phil Gomes, PR’s self-proclaimed “first blogger,” is presently writing his memoirs of a year at Edelman, to an audience that’s gone flat line. I imagine him on the floor in some barren room at the institution quivering in the corner, mumbling to himself about the almost glory days. He could have been somebody.
What the hell happened? Where’s all the stuff that was the basis of the irrational exuberance? Apparently, the inheritors of PR Next Big Thing seem to have been cut out of the will altogether. There’s a rising anti-PR sentiment that seems to be taking hold as the de facto standard of the World Wide Web. The REAL question is this: Where does the industry go from here?
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]