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Masters Of Spin - Sandy Hook Promise, HK Governement & KFC

On this morning Channel 7’s Masters Of Spin, we reviewed the latest Sandy Hook Promise Ad, the Hong Kong governments struggle to find a PR firm and the soon to be launched Colonel Sanders dating game.

The transcript from the segment.

Monique Wright (singing).

Welcome back. It's being called one of the most confronting and harrowing advertisements on American television. Starting like any other back to school commercial, you're led to believe it's for student supplies until it turns quite dark.

Speaker 2: These new sneakers are just what I needed for the new year.

Speaker 3: This jacket is a real must have.

Speaker 4: My parents got me the skateboard I wanted. It's pretty cool.

Speaker 5: These scissors really come in handy in art class.

Speaker 6: These colored pencils, too.

Speaker 7: About the back-to-school essential this ad is selling is being alert to a shooter on campus, a campaign paid for by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, set up after the Sandy Hook School massacre. Our masters of spin join us, advertising and marketing experts, Matthew Bywater and Jane Caro. We know this is confronting. We know it's a very, very serious topic. Is it fair enough? Does it play out okay?

Jane Caro: Yes. I think it's absolutely right.

Matthew Bywater: I think so, too.

Jane Caro: It's got to get serious about that stuff. Imagine living in America and you send your child to school and that horrible fear you might have that something like this could happen. And they've got to do something about gun control. Yes, I know this is saying be alert to a shooting in progress, but really this is selling a message about we have to do something about guns in our society.

Monique Wright We know that kids in America are so anxious about a shooter. I think that the ad is incredible. I mean obviously this is going to add to some anxiety around that.

Matthew Bywater: It's going to add to the anxiety for sure. However, there is a good outcome for this because when you go onto the Sandy Hook Promise Program, this is not just about what happens in the gun crisis. This is all about prevention. A lot of it is about the signs to look for in your community and in this case your school, is that kid that's alone, or the kid that gets caught out, or the kid that's disaffected. It's about creating more community engagement, being aware of the signs early on. So it's a very powerful program where they say, "Be aware, this is what you can do about it. So look for the signs and let's try and be more community engaged." And then also there's places to report it.

Monique Wright If it drives people to the site and therefore that they're more aware, I mean...

Speaker 7: It's also a very good reminder is that thankfully we don't need ads like that here.

Jane Caro: We don't need them here. That's right.

Speaker 7: Thank goodness for that.

When is a crisis so bad that not even a crisis management agency will take up the job? Well the answer is Hong Kong. The government advertised for a PR company to salvage its global reputation. No one bid for the job, Matthew. You ever heard of that happening?

Matthew Bywater: Nobody wants to touch it. The only other major one like this is Cambridge Analytica-

Speaker 7: After Facebook.

Matthew Bywater: After their big issues a couple years ago. They applied for tens of PR agencies and couldn't get one. So that was another one that was just too hot to touch. Particularly in crisis.

Monique Wright Exactly. They're still mid-crisis. Why are they trying to sell Hong Kong?

Jane Caro: Well the tourist destination. That I think is the crux of the problem. Had this passed and had it been resolved in some way, wait a decent interval and then yes, maybe you could reengage with your audience and travelers. But right now is the wrong time. And it feels like you'd be participating in an attempt to cover this up or in some way collude with forces that are not necessarily the kind of thing that one assumes most people in the communication business are in favor of, free speech and stuff like that.

Matthew Bywater: There'd be a revolt among staff if this happened. If the staff, you're talking global agencies here. These are huge companies, staff around the world, so not just the Hong Kong PR staff, everywhere.

Jane Caro: But also there's something else going on which is really interesting. Governments are leaving a vacuum in terms of leadership. They're not taking leadership in this space and it's interesting how much private companies are filling that hole.

Monique Wright Yes they are.

Speaker 7: Briefly, we wanted to finish with this one. And you have to ask what on earth is KFC up to here? They've launched a campaign featuring a so-called sexy Colonel Sanders and a dating game. Matthew, look at Jane's reaction, say no more from Jane. Matthew, explain please.

Matthew Bywater: I don't know if I can explain it. It comes out this week, we'll have to see. I get what they're doing. I've got the assumption it's aimed at the Japanese market, there's some Japanese characters here. It's very anime.

Monique Wright It's a bit anime.

Matthew Bywater: But there is something important here for KFC. We know for years that when whenever you have something physical and touch and is tangible, you have greater resonance with that brand. And that we even know in more recent research is that even when that applies to an app, hitting play, hitting buttons and getting things buzzing around, we actually have a greater resonance to that brand.

Jane Caro: None of that's a problem. It's the sexy Colonel Sanders that I think that-

Monique Wright Jane. [crosstalk 00:04:44].

Jane Caro: And I'm an old lady and I don't fancy him.

Monique Wright When I think Colonel Sanders, I think sexy. I don't know what's wrong with you, Jane. Thank you both so much.

Jane Caro: We got this morning on Weekend Sunrise. Pink smashes the glass ceiling for female performers. Go Pink. The honor she's about to be given in a new world first. That's just ahead.


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