When Is Bad Publicity Good Publicity?

, Posted on Jan 24

Any publicity is good publicity.  Those of us in the PR and marketing industry, and several individuals and companies, would disagree.  Ask the CEO who can no longer get a job for insider trading or the attorney who had to move to another state, just to get a job.

You could also ask Jesse James how his motorcycles have been selling this year.

Often, however, there is one industry that seems to be able to walk this fine line, and walk it well.  In the entertainment industry, it seems that the more “bad” PR a television program, film or celebrity generates, the more the media covers it and the more we want to see it for ourselves.

This morning, I couldn’t help but consider this when CNN covered the new MTV series “Skins.” The story concerned the Parents Television Council’s appeal to Congress that the show is too racy and borders on violating laws in the scenes it shows with minors.

The result so far?  Taco Bell has pulled it’s advertising from the show.

Here’s the issue with your claim, PTC: you probably just did more for “Skins” than MTV’s marketing budget has done in the past two months.  “Skins” has been marketed as a racy show on a network already known for pushing the envelope for and with teens.

Who wants to bet that all of this publicity in TV Guide and the New York Times about “Skins” being “bad for teens” makes more teens tune-in to the next episode?  I, for one, would put money on it.  When you tell a teenager that they shouldn’t watch something, chances are that they will want to watch it more now than they ever did before.  Often, controversy just raises awareness, which is the exact opposite of the PTC’s goal in this case.

Will MTV tone it down now?  Maybe a little.  MTV faced a similar controversy two years ago with the launch of it’s current hit “Jersey Shore.” The result of that controversy?  “Jersey Shore” is now a pop culture phenomenon.

I may not be a teenager anymore, but I will admit that “Skins” is sitting on my DVR unwatched.  Now, after all the media coverage, you can bet I will find time to watch it.