PR in Mars and on Venus

A friend sent me a viral email today containing a link to an Amstel beer advert which interestingly has been around for over 18 months. 

The video clearly pokes fun at men, but have representatives of the less-fair sex created  a PR crisis for Amstel and demanding the “patronising” approach be withdrawn and an apology given.  Hell, no!

Clearly PR on Mars is much more relaxed than that required on Venus (as Neville Hobson illustrates). 

But let’s not think women don’t have a sense of humour – although we have the angry moms getting their diapers in a knot over the Motrin advert at YouTube, the ill-fated commercial has stimulated various spoof take-offs – I like the boob job version, but best of all is the Angry Motrin Mom demands an apology from McDonalds.

I’m all for organisations being socially responsible and recognising emerging issues by monitoring online coverage – but some of the reaction we see online is frankly ridiculous. 

Likewise the furore over John Sergeant in Strictly Come Dancing – where ironically the position is reversed. The “elite” supposedly didn’t like the way the public were behaving in voting for the worst dancer in the competition – so the BBC is found guilty over another celebrity-induced crisis.  Now the public react in complaining about John’s decision to quit.

We are in new territories for PR practitioners where the old rules are being rewritten.  It is easier and easier for publics to form and garner quite a bit of “Google juice” via social media when they aren’t happy. 

Issues may attract large numbers of complaints, comments or posts, or involve groups who some may consider as influential.  But, the more people “cry wolf” over matters that frankly don’t matter, the more this power is potentially diminished. 

We can’t ignore the need to recognise that some people are from Venus and expect organisations to react to their every snivel – but there are others who have a more pragmatic Mars perspective.  And, that’s not meant to be a gender related stereotype.

Rather than simply reiterating the traditional advice in PR crisis communications, I wonder if we don’t need to learn the rules of poker or other games/sports.  Maybe that’s where men learn to roll with the punches rather than trying to fight every battle. 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

7 thoughts on “PR in Mars and on Venus”

  1. You had me until this line:

    “…there are others who have a more pragmatic Mars perspective. And, that’s not meant to be a gender related stereotype.”

    I have a hard time construing that as anything but a gender-related stereotype. I may be clinging a little too tightly to my Women’s Studies education, but it’s no secret that John Gray’s “Mars and Venus” descriptions are inherently sexist and unsubstantiated. Genderizing characteristics such as “pragmatic” to men is a step backwards. There were plenty of “Venutians”, such as you and me, who thought the uproar was silly.

    I’m totally with you and your argument. But I feel that the issue has less to do with gender and more with dramatic people with an internet connection.

  2. Jen – initially, I was using the Mars-Venus argument as male-female in respect of how it appears (some) men and (some) women are reacting to adverts that poke fun at the gender. But, when it came to my final conclusions, I was stretching the planet analogy to imply that people can be divided into “Venutians” and Martians – but I agree with you, these couldn’t be divided by gender. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone who is pragmatic is male, more pragmatists would be at home on Mars. I’m reclaiming the planets for both genders, but leaving the drama queens on Venus.

  3. FYI, there don’t seem to be any drama queens in Oz…. I can’t believe the tempest in a teapot this one is in the blogosphere, what with the (international) news replete with concerns about the financial meltdown, recession, drought (here in Australia), world food shortages, etc. etc.

    Of course I did share (on my twitter microblog) the funny/silly Save the Male campaign here…. That led to lots of in-person discussions on the coach/plane. But no one is taking the “transformation” of the Aussie male to a metrosexual very seriously. Good thing, or else the SM drama queens/kings would be dumping all over the brewery that is behind this study.

  4. Judy,

    I liked the post by Ron Millar that you kindly emailed me. I’m not convinced that Motrin planned this campaign, but as you illustrate with the Save the Male campaign there are a lot of companies who think that being controversial is the secret to achieving SM success (that’s social media, not sado-masochist of course!)

    I’m disappointed that you’ve not found drama queens in Oz – no Priscilla‘s then?

  5. No full-blown drama queens encountered in Oz as yet. But perhaps it’s the demographic I’ve encountered the most over the past two weeks (mainly boomer/retired Aussies on hols). Mind you, there’s been some lovely males I’ve encountered with strong ‘strine accents…I’ve only understood about 20 per cent of what they’ve said! Maybe they were drama queens and I just didn’t “get it!” 😉

    Fussing about advertising campaigns doesn’t seem to be a preoccupation with (m)any Aussies, online or off. But I have heard heated debates (pun intended) about whether the ongoing drought is related to climate change or just cyclical weather patterns. Also about whether Kevin Rudd is an improvement over Australia’s last prime minister; Aussies are very divided on this. (There’s a special on the telly tonight about his predecessor, The Howard Years.)

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