Thursday, 8 September 2016

Burqinis and Astroturf

The Burqini, was created in 2004 by a Lebanese designer. How many women have been seen on French beaches wearing one? Very few. This summer, the designer's PR company sent a handful of women to the beaches of Nice and asked them to go paddling in a burqini. PR stunt. Call the Press, make an anonymous call to the Mayor’s office and maybe the Police.

The Mayor of Nice played along. He, along with many of his colleagues, needed some way to indicate to the ivory-tower politicians in Paris that he has genuine security concerns that he doesn't have the resources to address. And that it would be very useful if France didn't take any more of Angela's Army. So he picked on Mutual benefits for the Mayor and the designer. Bright green astroturf.

A simple provocation can rapidly become "the biggest story from Boston to Budapest”. Whenever we see a provocative story, we should ask: which PR agency or organisation arranged it? Whose cause does it publicise? Is it genuine grass or just astroturf? The presumption must always be that it's astroturf.

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