"We all know what companies do in a crisis--they get an outside PR firm to help manage the situation. So it was no surprise to us at the Weekly when an email came in yesterday from the biggest independent PR firm in the world, New York-based Edelman..."
Even the colors kinda make me want to hurl
And so began the minor odyssey, as detailed over on the Daily Weekly, of Seattle Weekly, Four Loko, and their new bestest friends in the whole wide world, the public relations firm Edelman.
See, apparently, Phusion Projects (the company responsible for loosing Four Loko on the world) wasn't pleased with our characterization of their product either here on Voracious (where I puzzled over the insane popularity of the stuff among idiots, underage problem drinkers and those who've recently had their tongues removed) or over on the Daily Weekly (where Caleb Hanan reported on the aftermath of the Central Washington University party that most recently brought Four Loko into the non-caffeinated-malt-liquor-drinking public consciousness). It wasn't that Hanan had described Four Loko as "a can full of Thor's piss after the Norse god has just chugged some Dimetapp." It wasn't that I'd described their targeted demographic as "a bunch of college freshmen who would normally be blowing all their disposable income on weed, burritos and World of Warcraft subscriptions."
No, what they'd had a problem with was our math.What they didn't like was Hanan's statement that one can of Four Loko packed the kick of "five or six caffeinated beers."
"This statement is not correct," said Edelman, on behalf of Phusion Projects. "Please remove this error from the online version of your story and please use the correct information from the materials we provided."
Except that Hanan wasn't wrong. And neither was I when I did a similar calculation. Phusion Projects (via Edelman) insists on fudging the numbers when it comes to talking about exactly how many beers, shots or glasses of caffeinated, chemical-spiked wine one can of their product is equal to--trying to make it seem less dangerous by using higher alcohol-content beers as a standard of comparison despite the fact that, if there was no Four Loko to be had, most of their clientelle wouldn't exactly be contentedly sipping glasses of Chimay, and would probably be chugging bottles of mouthwash or drinking the imitation vanilla out of their cupboards instead.
Anyway, the back and forth between Edelman and Seattle Weekly is priceless and just this side of farce--a true look at the art and craft of crisis PR--and you really should get on over to the Daily Weekly to check it out.