Naked Communications has stepped up its scrap with the press by publishing a full page ad in The Australian’s Wish magazine listing the journalists and media it fooled with its girl-with-the- jacket-hoax.
Today’s ad features a photo of “Heidi”, the actress who pretended to be looking for the man of her dreams who left his jacket in the cafe. It carries the headline: “Witcheryman would like to thank everyone who helped us spread the word”.
As well as the mainstream media outlets that covered the controversy, it names two journalists on its list – Caroline Marcus of Fairfax’s Sun Herald and Marnie O’Neill of the Sunday Telegraph.
Marcus was the journalist who broke the original story. Naked has categorically denied planting it in the press, insisting that all they did was load the video onto YouTube. However, Monday’s Australian suggested an alternative version of events in which the story was planted with Marcus by a friend, a former journalist who was actually doing undercover PR for the campaign. And O’Neill was the journalist who later wrote one of the most critical articles about Naked.
Naked CEO Mat Baxter this afternoon denied that the advertisement was personal. He told Mumbrella:
“If the journalists want to take it like that, then that’s their prerogative. But I really don’t want to get into this conversation all over again. I’m a little tired of it.”
He added: “It was their right to report what they did and it is the right of the client and the right of the agency to put a page in a magazine. They can interpret it as they see fit.
“The material deadline for magazines is some time ahead. It might have been booked before some of the more personal attacks written by them were there. Some of what they wrote was quite personal and detrimental to the client. But all the advertisement does is celebrate the fact that the coverage was there.”
However, Marcus did not see it as a celebration. She told Mumbrella:
“Of course as journalists, we are always alert to the spin tactics used by marketing companies. However, in my experience, it is unusual for such companies to outright lie at every opportunity. It would become a real shame if the marketing industry felt that this type of journalistic fraud was acceptable. If the CEOs of Naked Communications and Witchery think that the media will forgive and forget being lied to, then the biggest joke is on them.”