What Would Bill Do? Media Coach Bill McGowan Takes on the Week’s News


It’s time for another edition of our weekly series in which Bill McGowan, Clarity Media Group founder and advisor to executives at Facebook and Airbnb, offers his take on the week’s biggest stories.

This week, Bill addresses cultural upheavals in politics, technology and sports.

POTUS Over a Barrel or In One?

If you agree that there’s nothing quite so offensive as a gloating, chest-pounding  winner, then the Shameful Act of the Week Award must go to the New York Post for their depiction (please don’t use the word “artwork”) of President Obama wearing only a lopsided crown and a barrel with the screeching headline: “STRIPPED” underneath it.

As my old colleague (and lifelong Rupert Murdoch soldier) Steve Dunleavy used to say, it was “lower than a snake’s belly.”

Kudos to the Daily News for their clever front page that rightfully reported on the thumping the President’s party took, without the disrespectful lunacy that only denigrates the Office for future occupants from both parties.


Does this achieve some unprecedented level of tackiness?  Not by a long shot.  This is right out of the Rupert propaganda playbook.  Last year another Murdoch newspaper depicted Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a Nazi uniform and monocle. Do these stunts get you talked about?  Perhaps.  Do they help stem your double-digit declines in circulation?  Probably not.

The Worm Takes Down Apple

What I would give to be a fly on the wall inside the war room of the PR firm that has the Russian Government for a client.  What a drag when crisis management has to tackled triage-style.  The latest Molotov Cocktail went off this week after a monument to Steve Jobs in St. Petersburg (the most liberal Russian city, BTW) was abruptly taken down after Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly confirmed he is gay.

(clip via pro-Kremlin site RT)

The company responsible for erecting the iPhone-shaped monument last year said that they removed it because it violated Russian law “prohibiting homosexuality and other sexual perversions.”  Now, if Vladimir Putin really wanted to put his popularity to the test and prove he’s a man of his convictions (however warped they may be), he would set up dumpsters in Red Square and issue a decree ordering the Russian people to dispose of their iPhone, iPads and MacBooks.

But you and I both know that if Russians were forced to choose, he’d lose.

Liar, Liar, Cleats on Fire

Can a brand’s image take a bigger 180-degree turn than the New York Yankees?  They no sooner complete the wildly successful canonization tour for homegrown hero Derek Jeter, when they are forced to welcome back the Voldemort of pinstripes, Alex Rodriguez.

This week, even the most deluded A-Roid loyalists must have felt betrayed by the revelation that, in exchange for immunity to save his own hide (and stay out of jail), Rodriguez testified under oath that he did indeed use Performance-Enhancing Drugs, despite dozens of insistent denials over the past two years.

If personal integrity were measured like batting averages, A-Rod would be hitting about .035.  What a jam for the Yankees marketing team.  How can you come up with a 2015 season slogan, using words like “tradition,” “excellence,” or “glory” and put A-Rod’s picture in the marketing materials?

Answer: You can’t without looking like total hypocrites. They could go the honest route and use, “Come over to the dark side.”

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