This week in PR: Hillary Duff’s Halloween, Starbucks cups and country star Beyoncé.

The week kicked off with a Halloween spook in the form of Hillary Duff’s poor costume choice; a serious ‘WTF.’ The next day, Starbucks’s new seasonal cups were announced only to receive a negative backlash for not conveying enough seasonal cheer. However, Queen Bey knows how to make all things better the same way she also knows how to do to a country-genre crossover. Who knew Beyoncé at the Country Music Awards was the performance we’ve all been waiting for?

Hillary Duff’s Halloween was a nightmare come true.


Photo: USA Today.

Halloween 2016 was a scary one indeed, the kind that makes nightmares come true, or at least for actress-songstress-and miscellaneous Hillary Duff. This year rather than collecting a treat, life gave her a trick that reminded us of the lesson that ignorance is never an excuse and that a moment of fun is never simply a moment of fun.

For her costume she coordinated with her boyfriend Jason Walsh to recreate the first Thanksgiving Dinner. Nothing wrong with a little stuffing; who doesn’t like cranberry and yams? However, the costume would’ve been a hit had she been the stuffing to his turkey but rather than be the meal they recreated the classic and oh-so-popular and politically correct choice of pilgrims and Native Americans. She wore a short black outfit as a pilgrim and he dawned on a feather headdress and face paint. Seriously, WTF was she thinking. Since when has colonization been a happy soft subject? Do we not remember our seventh grade U.S. History class? So many things went wrong during that time. Why would you want to bring up cruelty and war when people are busy trying to get spooked while downing some spirits. This costume is not only so wrong but it’s also a buzzkill if you think about it. To add insult to injury, their choice could not be more untimely considering the recent Native American protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.


Photo: Mic.

If there was one costume that was more tasteless and insensitive than Kim K’s Parisian heist robe and gag get-up, it’s this! Talk about sinking your public image in a heartbeat! As much as I’d love to buy into Duff’s sweet ‘I didn’t know better’ plea; nothing excuses offending by ignorance. Plus, she has a publicist, where were they? They couldn’t tell her this was bad idea?

To make matters worse, Duff’s apology came in the form of a tweet and ended there.

“I am SO sorry to people I offended with my costume. It was not properly thought through and I am truly, from the bottom of my ❤ sorry.”

This was such a week response, which is perfectly complimented by her boyfriend’s post to Instagram saying:

“I meant no disrespect. I only have admiration for the indigenous people of America. In hindsight I would not have made that decision. I apologize to anyone I may have offended.” Jason Walsh statement on Instagram.

You almost had it buddy, but saying ‘may’ implies that you ‘may’ have offended and that you are not owning up to it. Weak and weaker. If I felt bad for their poor decisions, I don’t after witnessing their bland and seemingly insincere apologies.

Starbucks releases its new seasonal cups with an extra shot of backlash?


Photo: Huffington Post.

You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, or at least that’s probably what’s being said behind HQ’s doors at Starbucks. After last year’s season ‘holiday’ cups backlash, the coffee giant decided to play it conservative this season where the only allude to seasonal cheer would come in the form of color on their new disposable mugs. Rather than commit to spreading seasonal cheer, Starbucks decided to play it ‘safe’ and really not commit to anything, which in turn, to no surprise, received a negative public response.

This is a classic example case of failing to commit to a message so the company decided not to have a message at all, and if there’s anything more loathed by the public than a radical position, it’s a vague and shady demeanor; vague and shady like the prints that Starbucks issued on its new cups. The red cup with a light print of birds and holly mixed with a marble effect somewhat can be debated to correlate to holiday cheer but it still falls a little flat. As for the green cup, I have yet to hear one article or person who managed to pick up on the interesting story behind the design. The cup is designed with one contiguous line symbolizing how we are all connected, and although the concept is neat; it quickly gets ignored by how it has no connection to seasonal cheer.

The general argument this time around is that the cups were not ‘holiday’ enough, which brings up the point that you will never be able to make everyone happy. Universal happiness should not be the goal of any campaign or plan but rather it should cater to the needs and desires of the brand’s key audiences. Starbucks perhaps should’ve surveyed and known who its customers are and how they are celebrating the holidays, and then worked around their wishes. Or, they could’ve structured a campaign how they are moving away from the holidays and more towards a ‘unity’ theme, which is what I think they were going for but fell so short, ultimately getting them into this mess.


Photo: Huffington Post.

Regardless, Starbucks is getting tons of coverage with a negative angle, which in odd way could’ve been what they wanted all along. They’ve upset masses, however they have not offended anyone. My forecast is that come next week, Starbucks’ cups will be yesterday’s news and that their bottom-line will not take a hit. PR-wise, they could’ve made a better decision, business-wise, their sales may continue to grow. The real moral to this lesson is that the road is full of too many squirrels that were run over by cars because they couldn’t make a decision of which way to go. At times you may be right and at others may wrong but if you don’t take a chance or in this case a stance, then you are automatically wrong.

Beyoncé adds country to the list of things she can slay.


Photo: Billboard

At the very last minute it was announced that Beyoncé would be opening this year’s show of the Country Music Awards along with The Dixie Chicks; a surprise that few expected and one that many users on Twitter voiced to not want. Many users tweeted their confusion as they could not make the connection between Bey and country music, however as soon as she hit the stage she shut down all nay-sayers and proved that when she goes to an awards show, she simply does not perform, she takes over. In fact, her performance was so well taken that Billboard ranked all of the evening’s performances and her rendition of ‘Daddy Lessons’ came on top as the number one highlight of the night.


Photo: ABC News.

This is an interesting music move from the woman who ‘woke up like this,’ a move that is beyond beautiful PR. This performance helped establish her among a viewership that normally would not be running to buy ‘Lemonade.’ Surprisingly, this award show did not smash ratings for the CMA but it did fare very well; let’s keep in mind that the Cubs were winning the World Series at the same time. Tough competition but Beyoncé definitely helped anchor the show into a good standing that it may not have had otherwise; talk about a mutual benefit.

Video: Youtube user hausofnico.

Another win from the performance was the state of Texas. If you watch the performance there’s a part when the Dixie Chicks and Bey all reference their state of origin. Talk about a major shout out to the Lonestar state. Texas Tourism Bureau, I’d start working on a new campaign if I were you. Queen B and her squad just gave you a national spotlight; it’s yours to run with.

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