Trying to pull a higher-level message out of the fifth Spin Crowd episode was tough, I'll admit. Nevertheless, it's Simon "Sweater Vest" Huck (rather than Jonathan "haircut" Cheban) that provides the basis for discussion here.
Executive-producer-slash-best-friend-slash-meal-ticket Kim Kardashian got CommandPRPublicity to work a New York charity event for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. On the flight from LAX to New York, Simon had the bright idea of having a baby gorilla walk the red carpet. ("PR gold" he called it.)
I haven't seen such a glaring example of tone-deafness since KISS came out with "I Was Made For Loving You."
Of course, doing this would have been a disaster, as confirmed by a call to the client and a meeting with Kardashian. Moving forward with the baby-gorilla idea would have only served to exploit the species that the Fund is looking to save.
But, dammit, a gorilla was going to walk that red carpet! So, the team finds a gorilla suit, conscripts the contractor working on Cheban's condo and... presto! Simon has his gorilla.
I would've settled for the invisible monkey.
Most of the time when you look at a PR campaign and wonder "What were they thinking?" you can very often attribute the problem to a single cause: a team fell in love with an idea early in the creative or planning process. In those situations, the team sees the communications objective as something that exists in service of "The Big Idea" rather than the other way around.
This is intellectually dangerous. What's worse, the PR people involved start focusing on solving communications problems in ways that they find interesting instead of ways that are important to the client. Big difference.