Wednesday, October 18, 2006

MEDIA SAVVY -- There IS Such A Thing As Bad Publicity...

...when it comes to ballot measures that require lots of positive opinion to pass. Take notes, because here's a classic example of how not to handle a PR campaign.

Here in Sacramento, the big measures on the ballot this November are designed to set up a temporary sales tax to raise money to build a new downtown arena for our NBA team, the Kings. The campaign has had several setbacks, from a lack of communication between the owners, Gavin and Joe Maloof, and city leaders, not to mention brownfield cleanup issues and a general perception that the Maloofs are wealthy enough to pay for their own arena.

Needless to say, tongues were wagging yesterday when a new nationwide TV ad for Carl's Jr. debuted, featuring the Maloof brothers chowing down on hamburgers at the family's Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. "Net worth: $1 billion," flashes on the screen. The brothers wash down the burgers with a bottle of 24-year-old French bordeaux, poured by a woman in a slinky dress. The ad closes with: "The Carl's Jr. $6,000 combo meal, exclusively at the Palms."

This is a serious lack of judgement by the Maloofs. Why take part in a high-profile TV commercial flaunting your affluence so close to an election that asks voters to fund a $600 million arena and entertainment complex for you? What, they couldn't have waited three weeks?!?

When you're trying to influence public opinion, you need all the positive mojo you can create. In the case of Gavin and Joe Maloof, they just blew a layup at the end of the 4th quarter.

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