April 2011: The 5 Worst Video Media Disasters
It’s that time again…for the five worst video media disasters of the month!
April’s victims include a sleepy Vice President, a clueless politician, and one two three ridiculous CEO’s.
One favor before we begin: if you enjoy these cringeworthy moments as much as I do, would you please share them on Facebook and Twitter? Thank you. Okay, on with the list!
Number 5: Joe Biden Falls Asleep
During arguably the most important speech President Obama has ever given on entitlement reform, Vice President Joe Biden appeared to fall asleep. As a result, many headlines about Obama’s speech included mention of Biden’s ill-timed snooze, once again robbing the president of his ideal headline.
It’s not the first time Biden has done that – it happened during the signing ceremony for health care reform, as well (see number seven here).
#4: Senator Jon Kyl’s Lame Excuse
Anyone can get a statistic wrong. So when Arizona Senator Jon Kyl mistakenly said that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s services were abortion-related (it’s actually 3%), all he had to do is apologize. Instead, his office claimed that the Senator’s remark was “not meant as a factual statement” – and that’s the moment this became a much, much bigger story. (Click here to see the full story, with a great clip from Stephen Colbert.)
#3: Mike Lazaridis, Founder, Research In Motion
As Sam Donaldson once said, “The questions don’t do the damage, only the answers do.”
During a BBC interview, RIM’s founder – the maker of the BlackBerry – abruptly cut off an interview when he didn’t like a question. His whining and complaining looked more like that of a cranky grade schooler than a corporate CEO. He should have been able to answer these questions with ease, but instead made the story bigger with his peeved responses.
#2: Dick Fleming, St. Louis Chamber of Commerce Head
As media avoidance strategies go, this one’s a beaut. Instead of speaking with the reporter about his salary, Dick Fleming, President and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA), decided to seek refuge in the back hallway of a hotel near a stack of milk crates. The full story is here. (2020 update: Video no longer available.)
#1: Bob Parsons, CEO, GoDaddy.com
The founder of GoDaddy.com released a video of himself killing an elephant during a recent trip to Africa. He posed over the dead elephant’s carcass with a self-satisfied grin, set the video’s soundtrack to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” and blamed PETA for the fall-out.
Wait, there’s more. He threatened to sue bloggers who showed the video – even though he originally released the video himself. And he never did apologize, instead insisting he would murder elephants again. As a result of his bad behavior, Mr. Parsons lost thousands of customers, self included (see story here).
The original video is no longer available due to Parsons’ copyright claim; although this news clip will give you a good summary, the original was much, much more graphic.
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I can only imagine the conversation that Contessa and Martin had after they went to break.
You’re right — too bad cameras weren’t rolling on that one. After watching Bashir’s smarmy interview with Michael Jackson years ago, I’m not sure I’ve ever quite trusted him to do the right thing on-air.
You know, I think the GoDaddy.com CEO’s misstep could also have helped him…
I bought a domain this week. Not being a techy, or ever having bought a domain before, I started googling. I was getting so many results, I wasn’t sure which were legit, or which were scams.
When GoDaddy.com came up, I had at least heard of them, and hence knew they were a legit company (albeit with a heinous CEO). So despite their CEO being an elephant murdering douchebag, I still went with them, because I was nervous of scams.
In GoDaddy.com’s case, being a private business, that horrific elephant video did garner publicity and public awareness they could not otherwise have obtained…so maybe it wasn’t all bad, in terms of PR.
Although I shudder to think you may be right, the truth is you may be right. Numerous high-profile companies (Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, and Groupon come to mind) have likely generated controversy on purpose, for precisely the reason you describe. And in some cases, it might actually work. That said, I hope PR professionals will quit before agreeing to work on camapigns that go beyond “edgy” to “unethical.”
Thank you for commenting, and please keep the comments coming!