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Rita Skeeter came to mind often while reading Campaigns that Shook the World by Danny Rogers. Maybe my expectations were out, but I was expecting an in-depth look at some amazing public relations campaigns. Instead, I got a who’s who of, primarily British, PR people.
Campaigns that Shook the World did include campaigns that shook the world. It starts with some UK politics, with Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair’s electoral campaigns. Obama’s “we can change it” campaign added international politics. Non-political campaigns included Product (red), and Nivea’s Real Beauty.
As you can see these are amazing campaigns to learn from. I really wanted to hear more about how Obama engaged America’s moms and dads generating the highest volume of donations, but the smallest per donation amount. I suppose I was looking for the why and how of the campaigns. Instead, I got a lot of the who, and a bit of the what. The Product (red) case study has more pages dedicated to the comms team members’ resumes than what happened in the campaign. Did you know Matthew Freud, comms lead for Product (red), was married to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter and they hosted parties in their home? I’m still trying to work out how that tidbit relates to his performance in the campaign. Oh, he’s also related to Sigmund Freud. Again, relevance? At least his being related to Edward Bernays was included, and relevant to PR.
If you haven’t guessed it was the biographies that first irked me. Then it was the inclusion of birth years (not really needed). Finally, it was the sexism. Michelle Obama’s name and birth year were tagged on to Barack’s headline, but no more of her. Obviously despite a comment that her inclusion was integral to the campaign, she wasn’t worthy of a bio. Silvia Lagnado is called the bright star of the Nivea Real Beauty, and her bio starts with saying that it’s fitting she’s a woman.
I haven’t counted the pages of biography versus campaign case study but suspect it’s at least 50%. So, less than the 3/4 JK Rowling said of Rita Skeeter. The book appeared to be well-researched and was coherent. They were definitely world-shaking campaigns, so I can’t question that. It’s not a bad book, Campaigns that Shook the World just didn’t shake my world.
Who Is Campaigns that Shook the World for?
The number of Murdoch references and how much the book focuses on people versus campaigns, the book looks like either the early research on a series or biographies or an application to join a gentlemen’s lounge. For the first time ever, I think I’m stumped on finding the actual audience. The people in the who’s who set wouldn’t need a book, but I’m not sure there’s enough campaign substance to learn from.
Have you read Campaigns that Shook the World? Am I being unfair with my comments? Let me know because I want to be fair and honest with my reviews.
My copy of Campaigns that Shook the World was compliments of NetGalley and Kogan Page. As you can see, they don’t influence my reviews.