BACKBITE

Melinda Messenger getting her kit off at Vauxhall Cross probably doesn’t surprise anyone. It’s what our Mel does for a living, after all.

Melinda Messenger getting her kit off at Vauxhall Cross probably

doesn’t surprise anyone. It’s what our Mel does for a living, after

all.



That she was stripping down to her swimming cossie and getting all water

sporty to promote Organics shampoo is equally unsurprising.



This was, after all, just another in a long line of media events posing

pertly as advertising - a one-off ’poster’ extravaganza guaranteed to

draw the paparazzi and even attract the attention of the esteemed

Campaign Diary (see last week’s issue).



Now I know that a scantily-clad Mel Messenger and the ad industry

veteran, Winston Fletcher, appear to have little in common, but bear

with me, there are a couple of pertinent points here. First, don’t be

surprised if last week’s rumours about Bozell Europe talking to the PR

company, Charles Barker, prove true. The two worked together on the

pitch for the Teacher Training Agency (not much of a vehicle for talents

like those of Melinda, admittedly), which they scooped last week - proof

of the value of combining advertising with a strategic PR campaign.



Abbott Mead Vickers plc, of course, got into the game by buying Freud

Communications a couple of years ago and the simple fact is that PR can

make advertising work harder.



Second, with the cost of TV advertising rising alarmingly, and large

audiences increasingly difficult to track down as media fragments, PR

can be an effective alternative to advertising. Would Organics have

spent more on traditional ads if the idea of a model washing her hair in

public had not been conceived? Maybe. One certainty is that the

editorial coverage the stunt achieved was somewhat cheaper than buying

the same amount of exposure from an advertising ratecard.



Some PR people may appear to be unintelligent life forms, but there’s an

opportunity here which even they are latching on to. Ad agencies ignore

it at their peril.