It was the best of times, it was the weirdest of times.
There were certainly some odd things that happened last year, and
now that we have a little perspective on 1996, maybe we should
look back. After all, 1997 looks to be even stranger. After
all, it looks like Michael Jackson will be announcing any day now
that he has the lead in the Broadway revival of 'Life With
Special thanks this week to Peter Adler, Dale Frederickson
and Dan Butler. And Thanks, of course, to Carol, for helping out
last week. We've been laughing together for over 20 years now.
Now, Back to the recent past as we present the 1996 awards...
Have a fun week!
Worst '96 Public Relations Mistakes
Source: PR Newswire
Following is a list of the year's worst public relations gaffes
as reported by Fineman Associates Public Relations.
1) America West Airlines: One of its flights was turned back in
mid air to pick up the California Angels baseball team whose
flight has been grounded. The passengers didn't seem to mind
the delay and looked forward to sharing their plane with the
Angels. That is until they were kicked off the plane to make
room for the team.
2) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco chairman Charles Harper: The chairman
was asked about children and second-hand smoke. He responded
that children don't like smoky rooms and they leave. When
told that infants can't leave, Harper said, "At some point,
they will learn to crawl." This statement brought outrage
from the public.
3) WPYX-FM, Latham, New York: The radio station was sued for
$300,000 for airing the name and place of employment of the
woman who won the "Ugliest Bride" contest organized by the
4) Southwest Elementary School, Lexington, North Carolina:
School officials charged a first-grade boy with sexual
harassment for kissing a girl classmate.
5) Joe Klein, Newsweek, CBS reporter, anonymous author: Klein
lied to fellow journalists and the world when he denied
being the author of the book "Primary Colors." Later, he
admitted being the author and as a result got fired.
6) Marge Schott, Cincinnati Reds baseball team owner: During
the team's opener one of the empires collapsed and died of a
heart attack in the first inning. Schott was quoted as
saying: "Why are they calling the game? Why can't they play
with just two empires?!"
7) Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America: The Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission sued Mitsubishi for
repeated violations of sexual harassment practices.
Mitsubishi gave its employees a choice: picket (with pay)
the EEOC office or spend the day in a sexual harassment
workshop. More than 2,000 employees opted to join the
parade. Their strategy backfired in the eyes of the public.
8) American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
(ASCAP): ASCAP sent out a letter to all Girl and Boy Scouts
summer camps requesting that a fee be paid for the use of
ASCAP's songs, which include nearly every song you've ever
heard. Some Scouts camps refused to pay and stopped all
their campfire singing. Thanks to national media exposure,
ASCAP retracted their original intention.
9) Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Columbus, Ohio: David Mears won
the grand prize by submitting the best slogan in a contest
sponsored by Nationwide. The prize: two Mercedes and a trip
around the world.
However, Nationwide refused to hand Mears the prize,
claiming it was all a joke. Mears sued the company and is
now enjoying his around the world voyage.
Esquire Magazine - Dubious Achievement Awards of 1996
CONGENIALITY AWARD WINNER -
+++ Upset over the fact that Muhammad Ali was given the
honor of lightning the Olympic flame, Joe Frasier was quoted
as saying: "If I'd have been with him, I would have pushed
him in the fire."
BAD ACTOR -
+++ "(He) began sucking my toes and moaning, 'Feed me, feed
me,'" said nursing student Christa Barke referring to what
happened after she arrived at actor Kelsey Grammar's house.
WELCOME TO THE 19th CENTURY -
+++ Italy's highest appeals court claims it's perfectly
legal for a husband to beat his wife from time to time. A
Sicilian man went free because he did not beat his wife on a
POLITICAL DEBATE -
+++ Lazarus Nzarayebany chewed off Levy Gwarda's lip and
part of his beard during a heated argument. They are both
members of the Zimbabwen Parliament.
EVEN MORE DISGUSTING THAN HIS MUSIC -
+++ "I like to lick girls' sweaty armpits in the summer. The
smell really turns me on, especially if they have hair,"
said singer Iggy Pop in an interview with Rolling Stone
TRY NOT TO ACT GOOFY AROUND THEM -
+++ Going to Disney amusement parks with the intention to
pull Pluto's tail or squeeze Snow White's breasts may get
you in trouble. Disney has inserted miniature cameras inside
their characters' costumes.
THE THINKING MAN'S FIGHTER -
+++ Boxer Mike Tyson told the media he now likes to read
comic books. "When I was in prison, I was wrapped up in all
those deep books. That Tolstoy crap. People shouldn't read
that stuff," Tyson told reporters.
PROBLEM CHILD -
+++ Mikey Sproul is only six-years-old but his record is
impressive: crashed the family car when he was three,
accidentally burned the family's house and burned down his
mother's home in Tampa, Florida.
POP GOES THE -
+++ A man in New Jersey filed for divorce claiming his wife
had several cybersex affairs with a man known as Weasel.
THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT BOOM -
+++ Trying to remove a callus, Bonnie Booth of Indiana fired
a .410-gauge shotgun at her foot. [That'll do it...]
NOBODY KNOWS YOU WHEN YOU'RE DOWN AND OUT -
+++ Princes Diana's credit card was rejected while trying to
purchase two lipsticks worth $37.
PAPER OR PLASTIC? -
+++ Taleban leaders in Afghanistan have banned paper bags
in their effort to impose pure Islamic law on the country.
"We respect paper, whether it is written on or not," said
the Taleban administration's information minister. "We have
announced that people should not use paper for bags or put
paper on the garbage heap." Shopkeepers in Kubul report
that the decree has resulted in a run on toilet paper, as
some Afghans are unsure how far the ban will be extended.
IMPROVING HEALTH IN NEW YORK -
+++ "It gives a poor image of the city and some of these
people who run on the field are very large, very fat,
actually," said New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani referring to
those New York Yankee fans running onto the field during the
COOL RAP FROM THE ICE AGE -
+++ 'Mistress of Time' was the name of a rap album released
by a 121-year-old French woman.
A REAL HANDICAP -
+++ Five friends were playing a round of golf in Fife,
Scotland. One of them, Jimmy Hogg, died of a heart attack
midway through their game. The remaining four men continued
and finished their game without him.
+++ As a McDonald's employee Cathy Shepard was entitled to
only six chicken McNuggets for her lunch break. She was
fired when her managers found out she's been eating eight.
AND WE THOUGHT THEY WERE JUST WASTING THE MONEY -
+++ $100 million since 1991 was unsuccessfully spent by the
CIA in an effort to oust Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE? -
Florida State Senator John McKay resigned from the Senate
Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees such
monopolies as the phone company, after his wife charged in a
divorce proceeding that McKay had been having an affair with
the lobbyist for the Sprint telephone company.
[ And he was only paying her 10 cents a minute... ]
© 1997 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.