Sunday, December 07, 2008

Woeful Disgusting NO Campaign: Media Relations Experts Write

Following publication of this post publishing further woeful NO Campaign materials related to the ongoing Manchester ballot on a proposed £3 Billion Great Leap Forward, part financed by peak only road charging, we received various comments.

First of these was from Cllr Iain Lindley (Salford, Walkden, Conservative) and appeared to be suggesting that there is some equivalence between YES campaign promotion of improved safety as an outcome of the TIF proposals and a disgusting rape narrative video, and disgusting posters produced in the NO cause. Trying to keep middle aged, white, male, be-hatted, manic, selfish, car drivers in the driving seat.

This is what Councillor Lindley said:

Chris Chris Chris...
I can understand why you want to hype these adverts up. They are pretty distasteful and moreover hardly likely to enthuse people to vote "no". You want it to be a big deal - that's politics.
The truth is that this video seems to be the work of two men in a shed with an out-of-date Apple Mac, and in any case the only people who've actually watched the damned thing are political hacks like us. It's hardly been on repeat play in the Orient food hall - if it had been, you might have had a point.
The ironic thing, of course, is that the YES campaign have used a very similar message - albeit with more tact and subtlety.
Isn't "I'm voting yes because I want to feel safer on the bus" implying that you'll be less safe if you vote no?
07 December, 2008 01:03

"More tact and subtlety"? Somethingly understated difference I'd say. We've asked him to retract this silly comparison. So far he has not done so. We don't know why. This really was a very silly thing to say.

Though the only video on heavy rotation in the Trafford Centre was the one fibbing about the £1200 a year everyone was going to pay. I'm not sure why they didn't choose a five-car family and say £6000.

Later on an out-of-hours comment arrived from some PRO on behalf of GMMG (Greater Manchester momentum Group) and I'll reproduce it here (bold italics) with inter-collated conversational comments in plain italics:

When GMMG posted a message on your blog two weeks ago explaining that GMMG had nothing to do with that Sonassi film, condemning it and explaining that Sonassi had been immediately expelled from GMMG as soon as we were aware of its existence, you said that the statement was "commendable".

I welcomed the commendable formal condemnation of the video and the assertion of the expulsion of Sonassi from GMMG. But I'm not so sure that I exonerated GMMG (or the Trafford Centre) from blame as the GMMG PR now suggest. Putting words into mouths etc. Is this NO campaign PR being run by some green tea boy?

Two weeks later you are resurrecting the subject and saying that GMMG "tolerated" the existence of the video. This implies that GMMG knew of its existence and distribution before seeing it on your blog. That is completely untrue and we request that you amend your blog immediately to reflect the truth.

You'll have to be more persuasive than this if you want me to change my blog. First, did I actually say that GMMG tolerated the video or knew of its existence and distribution?

No, as far as I recall, but might of course be wrong, I said or suggested that The Trafford Centre tolerated the video and surely knew of its existence. I think this is a reasonable conclusion from the facts.

But how far GMMG and the Trafford Centre are congruous is of course an issue. And if I've slipped I apologise. It is the Trafford Centre that agreed the video theme, facilitated it, and tolerated it. Not "GMMG" as such.

But your earlier "GMMG Statement" appeared to speak for both the Trafford Centre and GMMG within the same statement. Clearly until recently at least Andrew Simpson, CEO of Peel, has been Chair of GMMG and the Chief NO Spokesman too, now he's been sent away, but even if GMMG statements include the two I do realise these are separate entities and try to compartmentalise.

How can I say the Trafford Centre knew the video was planned? Because according to Sonassi's Dave Carlson (various emails) there was a meeting between the Free Manchester Partnership, including Sonassi's Dave Carlson, who admits to membership but has not so far named any other constituents, and representatives unnamed but clearly with decisive executive power of the Trafford Centre.

At this meeting TWO major actions ensued:

1. The concept, treatment and facilities needs of the planned video having been discussed, The Trafford Centre approved these needs and allowed the shoot to go ahead, including their scarey outdoor car parks, bright indoor car park masquerading as "daft dad" garage, and private access roads, some masquerading as public highways;

2. The Trafford Centre representatives, with their GMMG hat on, recruited Sonassi certainly (as they were later canned) and Free Manchester Partnership in the literal sense of Dave Carlson's emails (but they have not been canned) to the Greater Manchester Momentum Group.

The Trafford Centre representatives did not necessarily approve the detailed actors or shooting script. The suggestion was that this was rather cobbled together. But they did approve the concept of a stranded child, fearing attack, being let down by dodgy dad who didn't want to pay the charge. Which incidentally he wouldn't need to under the proposals.

For the record, GMMG had no part in its production or distribution ...

Apart from major GMMG constituent allegedly approving the concept and facilitating the shoot that is?

... and we have condemned it from the moment we became aware of it. As soon as it was practical on the Monday following its discovery, the film was taken off YouTube and the links on Freemanchester to the GMMG and Stopthecharge websites were taken down and replaced with a statement explaining that there was no connection.

Perhaps we have over-estimated the basic competences of The Trafford Centre and their PR agencies? But we would consider that any internal press/PR office or external agency that did not have alerts when items mentioning, never mind tagged "Trafford Centre" went live should urgently review their arrangements.

You should also know that whilst Sonassi sought the permission of the Trafford Centre to film on their premises, they (TC) had no prior knowledge of the content of the film, Sonassi did not show the film to the TC before distributing it and Sonassi did not tell TC that it had been distributed.

Sonassi's man Dave Carlson, who insists the production was by and for Free Manchester Partnership rather than the heavily implicated Sonassi, claims that he had a meeting with senior people at the Trafford Centre, capable of signing him up to GMMG, at which the concept was discussed and agreed.

Are you claiming that Dave Carlson is misleading us all on that matter? And how can it be, in this day and age, that the TC did not get an immediate alert on the video's publication, that GMMG and stopthecharge did not get immediate alerts on FreeManchesterPartnership linking inwards, and that there was no knowledge of this whole avalanche of bad taste and dirty tricks was heading down the big chill mountain?

Anyone understanding modern communications would believe that alerts would have been received promptly by the Trafford Centre when a video appeared at YouTube tagging their brand. But perhaps this Billion Pound Peel Company are claiming that they haven't begun to get their act together?

In case it's not blindingly obvious, GMMG had nothing to do with any of the content of the Freemanchester site and we agree that the posters you have reproduced here are disgusting.
07 December, 2008 18:59

Forgive me for repeating this but I find it incredibly hard to understand how the GMMG campaign office, the Trafford Centre press office, the stopthecharge wassive, and their various PR agents would not have been aware of (a) a new video tagged "Trafford Centre" and hilariously "Comedy" and (b) a new NO website that repeated the GMMG texts almost verbatim and linked inwards, including from a disgusting poster download page.

There have not been that many websites springing up supporting the cause that a new one would be ignored surely? Is that what you are suggesting?

You have not answered my questions before. But here are some more:

- Why did the Trafford Centre allow this video to be shot?

- Why did TC/GMMG having discussed an attack/women/dad/charge idea, recruit Sonassi and/or FMP as a result of this video approval meeting?

- Why was there or are you claiming no knowledge of the FMP site, video and posters when these linked into GMMG and stopthecharge?

- Why has Peel Holdings CEO Andrew Simpson been taken off the case?

- How long will the PROs involved in all this keep their jobs?


- Did Sonassi or anyone involved in Sonassi or the horror rape video make any of the other, official NO Campaign video offerings?


- If I put the nasty Free Manchester Partnership video back up tomorrow who will be able and willing to complain that I am infringing their copyright?


Iain Lindley said...


I have no problem condemning the Free Manchester video. It's crass.

I also have no intention of withdrawing my remarks about the YES campaign poster. I stand by them entirely. The insunation is clearly "vote YES or you are more likely to get attacked on a bus" which is both utter nonsense and draws exactly the same parallel as the Free Manchester video which you have got so worked up about.



Chris Paul said...

Iain, oh dear

Let's take this one step at a time:

1. There is the current level of safety and perceived safety

2. The NO campaign's muppets imply in a crass and plain factually wrong way that young women will be raped under the proposals i.e. safety reduced

3. The YES campaign on the other hand have detailed plans to improve lighting and other security matters at stops and stations i.e. improve safety

How can you say these are the same argument. How? How? How?

You are clearly wrong on this. It's not a matter of the NO campaign being crass and the YES campaign being subtle with the same arguments.

One is asserting a reduction in safety from where we are. With a rubbish video claiming an anti-peak journey would attract a charge.

The other is not suggesting in any way that safety would reduce. Just that it can be improved as part of the Great Leap Forward.

Totally different.

In addition to which your original comment appears to either deliberately or carelessly put the FMP posters in your same equivalence argument.

How could you even suggest that?

You can't avoid having fellow travellers but you can avoid making excuses for them. These are nasty, fascistic dog whistles.

Sonassi Media Services said...

Sonassi Media Services has played no part whatsoever in this campaign that CP is so intent on blaming us for.

We only feel deep regret and upset that a grown adult must continue his mud-slinging towards our company.

To clarify all points, a press release has been drafted.