Apples Could Be Harmful As Well!!! A PR Stunt, Well-Played!

Since childhood I have believed in the age-old adage – An Apple a Day, Keeps The Doctor Away. Though an apple a day didn’t really keep the doctor away I kept following the ritual religiously. Only until I came across a PR case study Alar and PR; 60 Minutes, and the national media.” As someone who takes immense interest in PR strategies, it was startling to come across one that made Americans believe that ”apples’ are indeed harmful for their children and the one that followed to counterattack the first strategy and made eating apples – healthy, wealthy and wise, again. Phew!

The story goes back to 1989 when in the month of February, CBS, the American Television Program Producer, in its show 60 minutes had broadcast a segment highlighting the harmful effects of apples and how they can even cause cancer, particularly to small children. They had based their coverage on a study from NRDC, a New York-based non-profit enviornmental advocacy group that focussed on the intolerable risk of pesticides (read Alar here) in children’s food. The result, in no time apples were deemed everything but healthy.

At that point, the PR industry giant Hill & Knowlton (H&K) came to the rescue of vulnerable apple manufacturers, who were bearing the brunt of wrong media publicity, which experts say was carefully planned by David Fenton of Fenton Communications. H&K had to crack the tough nut of nullifying the NRDC’s report and making Americans believe that apples are actually healthy. Who knew a PR giant would be required to make people believe in something that they have learned at kindergarten decades ago. But I guess, that’s where an intelligent PR strategy comes into play.

Both the PR firms had laid their cards well – while David Fenton drove the final nail in apple’s coffin by bringing on board the American actress Meryl Streep to advocate the harmful effects of pesticides (Alar), H&K focussed on separating apples from Alar and bringing in the key influencers (yes, influencer was a word back then as well) such as government agencies, scientific institutions, apple growers, schools and news media to speak about the well-known nutritional benefits of apples.

Such PR case studies intrigue me about the world of PR that can make or break a brand in a jiffy.

To get into the technicalities of these two PR strategies you can click on this link, which is an excerpt from the book Public Relations Practices

P.S. I haven’t given up on apples yet.

Bored of the Monotonous Fashion Weeks? Dive into the Bizarre World of the Prismatic Shoe Artist Mondo Albion

Need to buy shoes. Need to buy shoes. Need to buy shoes…This was the only thought running through my mind when I first walked into this store in a cold February of 2019, thinking it would be selling low-priced shoes for daily wear.

However, the assumption completely turned around. It was a much expensive affair to my dismay. I walked out of the congested store, glancing at all things weird: narrow walk through, bulging ceiling, paper patterns hanging from the roof, dim lights, rainbow colored shoes, hats and bags with messages written all over them and above all an equally colorful man, literally, if only you could ignore his attire. I measured my way back home with an indelible impression on my mind.

Fast forward into an unpredictable month of September 2019, when I had to pick one fashion element in a city like Florence, I couldn’t think of anything or anybody else, just MONDO ALBION, the same shoe artist, who had his store crammed with quirky yet glitzy creations. He is vibrant, zesty, full of beans, dynamic, sparkling, effervescent, high spirited: words may not be enough to describe this wonder: only a glance at him is enough.

If you want to learn the art of living, learn it from him. He is a poser of a poser, a photographer’s delight but as they say nothing comes easy so does he. It wasn’t an easy task to dwell any kind of information from him.

“You cannot ask me everything”

he says, rubbing aside any insight into his shoe business.

Nevertheless, the store dates back to 50 years or perhaps more. And going by his words, he wholly and solely has set up everything. Though you would always notice an aged cordwainer, working intensively at the workshop placed precisely at the entrance of the shop. It was surprising to find out that his store is one of the main attractions for people who are willing to explore the insights of Florence.

More than anything, I wanted to know his age to make a worthy comparison with his undying spirit. And as my mind started making its own presumptions, pat came the reply- “Age of the earth” pointing his finger downwards. For a while, I paused in perplexity. However, the moment I understood his unwillingness to divulge his true age, my mind made a quick correlation with the legendary Karl Lagerfeld. For a matter of fact, he also, had never revealed his actual age.

Not many people know that a few kilometers from the historic center of Florence located on the hill of Giogoli, there’s a 24 hectares farm of olive groves and vineyard, which is famously known as the WORLD ALBION. It is represented as his residence with grandeur and magnificence of 40 double rooms with attached bathrooms, dining rooms, theaters, dressing rooms and many more.

A book penned down by Mondo, listing 30 rules, is presented to each and every person, who enters his dream like atelier. With these rules he professes his love for nature, challenging the society norms and typical conventions. One of the first rules is: Man is born naked, only master of his body and his mind. As he further elaborates:

“The first warrior is deep within us – billions of cells inside our body are throbbing, fighting and struggling, the best must win, inside and outside”

That is the kind of ideology he has always believed in, which has kept him away from the world of big daddies and honchos. Surprisingly enough in the 50s he had exhibited his work in New York and Paris, but for the love of craftsmanship, built his world in Florence.

It is also found that eminent people such as Hilary Clinton, Ginger Rogers and Walter Chiari have adorned his creations. Though he himself diminishes any such acknowledgement. Certainly he can give any designer a run for his money with his unparalleled attitude and enthusiasm. May be it is for people like Albion, that art is defined as the expression and application of human creative skill and imagination: to which this artist is truly devoted.

The Frame The Body- Hiding the visible

Concept and styling: Neha Singla, Photography: Ruggero Lupo Mengoni

Skin. Skin. Skin… and more skin. Shedding clothes at the drop of a feather has become a knock-down-drag-out phenomenon.

Increasing displays of skin have prevailed since the sixties, from the miniskirt to the advent of the Monokini, a topless swimsuit that left the female breast exposed. It generated a great deal of controversy back then. Today, it’s nothing but common. We stumble upon NUDITY everyday and twice on Sunday: women and men alike doff their duds for what is sophisticatedly known as “the arts.”

Helmut Newton. Robert Mapplethorpe. Bill Brandt. Boris Mikhailow. How much and however we sugarcoat it, they all portray nudity in a way or another. Over-exposition has blurred the difference in their respective genres of photography and they all look the same.

Breasts. Vaginas. Penises.  [Hidden] organs no longer knock us off our chairs. Nudity in its every form has reached the terminal and jumped on the wagon of vulgarity. Such bodily exhibitions have made us unreceptive to most things naked. We no longer are in awe of the so-called skin show.

They say clothes are the means by which bodies are made social, but the demoralizing hard truth is, we have recklessly exiled fabric adornments from our closets. To what extent and for what purpose do we put up with this fashion? Why has Miley Cyrus become synonym with nudity and transgression when she displays mostly vulgarity? Do her acts give us a tickle in the stomach or are they irking us like never before?

Such outrageous exposures of skin have changed the human psyche: we now seem more attracted to mysterious and hidden ways of seeing the body. Humans always crave to discover what is concealed: desire is born of prohibition. Forbidding sight of body parts that are commonly visible could stimulate an insatiable urge. Middle Eastern women adorned with veils are the perfect example. First, veils create a notion of dual space: space behind the veil and space in front of it. The space behind it is invisible and thus obscure.

Middle Eastern woman adorned in a veil

To think about penetrating this space gives wings to untamed fantasies. It’s a double message: “look-at-me-I don’t- want- to- be- looked- at” playing obsessively with the voyeuristic male gaze, a gaze that always wants access and will not tolerate being denied it.

I have nothing against nudity, for it is our classical legacy. Elegance, integrity, physical and mental autonomy, a connection with our golden past: yes, nudity was once representing all of this, and with a touch of elegance to boot.

Can anything be more seductive than a naked woman barely covered with a white linen sheet? In 1962, Bert Stern photographed a nude Marilyn Monroe with a diaphanous wrap: the photographic series is engaging and sexually alluring.

Marilyn Monroe- Bert Stern Photography 1962- conceptually modified

Jean Paul Gautier had men stripping on the runway to present his Fall/Winter 2014 menswear collection. And yet, they never quite became fully naked: models were undressing only to uncover another layer of clothing, which created a strong urge to see some skin. No wonder that, at the end of the show, even a half naked man was a sight for sore eyes!

Watch the show to experience the curiosity:

That’s the beauty and potency of shielding what is otherwise ubiquitous.On the other hand, when skin is exposed in excess and distastefully, nudity can trespass the boundaries of sensuality and enter the no-man’s land of vulgarity and annoying trash.

Excessive skin show after a certain point can become obnoxious and kill enthusiasm. By revealing too much of our body we are undermining our capacity to provoke desire. On the contrary, showing little opens our mind to mysteries that were always living next to us.

The most ancient, traditional and refined Indian outfit is the sari: a six-yard draping fabric meant to fully wrap the female body and leave just a small portion of midriff bare. The sensuality it exudes is beyond words. Notable people from the west such as Elizabeth Hurley, Madonna, Daniela Kingsley and Naomi Campbell, to name a few, have enthusiastically draped themselves in a sari and they have looked their sensual best. What is so attractive about this fully clad outfit? It momentarily captivates the human ability to imagine what is unknown, unexpected and unseen.

So, dress as you please. But remember: curiosity is not about going to new places all the time: it is looking at the same old things with a new eye.