Paul Merrill – Australia’s secret PR maestro

In this busy world of social media strategies, communications planning and incessant WIP meetings, Dr Mumbo feels it’s time to step back and salute Australia’s finest, and criminally underrated, evil publicity genius.  

Take a bow, Mr Paul Merrill.

The editor of Zoo Weekly – who also has a growing influence on other men’s mags in the ACP portfolio – has been behind some of Australia’s finest column-inch generating stunts in its three year history.

This week’s fun was the plan for Warwick Capper to run in the Queensland election. And subsquent failure to get his candidacy in in time which conveniently avoided all sorts of electoral legal complications. But that’s just the latest in a fine but short history of high impact, low cost PR stunts.

Remember the outrage over Zoo’s reader competition to win breast implants for their girlfriend? Or the time they ran a contest to win the legal costs of a divorce.

Or even the news coverage after Zoo used Lara Bingle pictures without her permission and she got legal.

Then there was last year’s offer to MP Kate Elliss to get her kit off. And the attempt to find Australia’s sexiest feminist.

Dr Mumbo also detected Merrill as the puppetmaster behind last year’s headline-generating stunt when stablemate Ralph magazine mytseriously lost at sea 130,000 pairs of plastic breasts, before just as mysteriously finding them just in time to give away with the mag.

But most of all, Dr Mumbo salues Merrill for his explanation of Australian sport. He told the UK’s Press Gazette:

“In Sydney it’s rugby league (also known as football). In Melbourne and Darwin, it’s Aussie Rules (also known as football). In some of the wealthier rural areas it’s rugby union (also known as football). And, with the Socceroos suddenly doing OK, there’s football (also known as soccer, but now insisting people call it football too).”

 It’s PR, but not as we know it.


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