What Would Bill Do? Media Coach Bill McGowan Takes on the Week’s News


In case you missed it, last week saw the beginning of what will be a regular feature on our blog: comments on trending news stories from Bill McGowan, Clarity Media Group founder and media coach to top executives from Facebook, Airbnb and more.

Today, in the second part of our ongoing collaboration, Bill gives us his take on three stories that broke over the past week.

1. CNN canceled Piers Morgan Live in February after three years in order (we presume) to make way for such ratings winners as the network’s “constant coverage” of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Morgan has made clear via various platforms that he was unhappy with the move, and this week he penned an “advice column” for The Hollywood Reporter in which he lectured his former employer on mismanaging his own show — which he claims “did OK in the ratings” — and  blaming the “stiff” Anderson Cooper for failing to provide a better lead-in.

CNN responded with a statement calling Morgan “sad” and he shot back by bragging about his new job as US editor of the UK-based Daily Mail Online.

Bill writes:

“Stay Classy” must be one of those American expressions with which Piers Morgan is unfamiliar, because several months after leaving CNN, he has strangely elected to sling some spitballs at his former employer.  If he doesn’t want to accept responsibility for his failed show, why take the sour grapes approach and point the finger of blame at all?  He could have merely said,  “television history is full of quality shows that did not click for some unexplained reason. To be in TV is to accept that disappointing reality.” But then, taking the high road probably wouldn’t have generated the same publicity for the new job he landed.

2. Struggling retail chain JC Penney released an ad tied to Breast Cancer Awareness Month that Digiday and others called “tone deaf” for mixing “milquetoast mom” brand messaging with “inadvertent sexism.” Here’s the ad itself:


Bill writes:

I’m not sure a crisis communications firm is what JC Penney needs in the wake of a disastrous ad campaign for breast cancer support. They may want to consider hiring escape artist David Blaine to teach them how wriggle out of this PR tomb in which they’ve encased themselves. The campaign, which has more the vibe of a Viagra ad, features a woman holding up two pennies – one covering each breast – with the tag line,  “This October, let’s save more than pennies.”

To make matters worse, there is an older man standing behind her in a pose that screams, “hey, I have a vested interest in this too, you know.”  Breast cancer awareness campaigns have no business flirting with sexual innuendo. This fiasco makes it imperative for JCP to double down on their commitment to breast cancer research with a campaign defined by altruism and gravitas, rather than a wink and a leer.

3. As our own Shawn Paul Wood mentioned yesterday, Fox News inspired some sarcastic headlines this week when Outnumbered host and former “Rock the Vote” MTV VJ Kennedy suggested that “ignorant” young people shouldn’t bother exercising their constitutional rights…unless they happen to be regular Fox viewers.

Bill writes:

Fox News is caught in the irony of the week. After years of branding themselves the news network of true patriots, the hosts of their show “Outnumbered” suggested that young people shouldn’t be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to vote if they don’t know the issues. Of course, what they neglected to point out is that a flimsy grasp of the issues is an affliction that affects not just Millennials, but Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers as well. Instead, the tirade they should embark on is one urging young people to be diligent in getting their news not just anecdotally from their friends on social media, but from varied and reputable sources.

But then where would that leave Fox News?

Stay tuned next week for more of Bill’s takes.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: October 10, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/what-would-bill-do-media-coach-bill-mcgowan-takes-on-the-weeks-news/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT