Wow, so much misinformation and omission in recent newspaper articles, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal, about Walt Disney Co.’s incoming chairman John Pepper Jr, the ex-CEO of Procter and Gamble. Granted, he looks like he just got cast by ABC Family for an Americanized remake of Mr. Chips, fretting over whether his brood of preppies will horribly haze the new kid. (On second thought, maybe he’s planning to do just that to still new Disney prez Bob Iger.) But The New York Times quoted experts claiming he lacks media experience and doesn’t bring much to Disney’s party. Huh? As if hiring former Senator George Mitchell was a stroke of genius by Franken Eisner and his board of flunkies. Look how well George didn’t turn out. If you ask me, this new guy has Mitchell beat by a mile. Obviously, none of the following was in any of the official press releases: 1) The most obvious, first: as one of the largest consumer product advertisers on the planet, his ex-company’s brands like Bounty, Crest and Pampers live or die on the basis of the success of its TV commercials and other media outlets. 2) P&G has long owned and operated TV soap operas; in fact P&G literally helped put the soap in soap operas. P&G produced and sponsored the first radio soap operas in the 1930s and became dominant when the soaps switched onto TV. P&G’s past soaps have included Another World, The Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, Somerset and Texas. Two veteran soaps are still distributed by Proctor and Gamble, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. P&G also produced and sponsored a prime-time show, Shirley, starring Shirley Jones, produced TBS’ first original comedy series, Down to Earth (successful enough to air 110 episodes), and distributed the syndicated comedy series Throb. And, most interestingly, Procter & Gamble Productions co-produced the global hit Dawson’s Creek with Columbia Pictures Television that made Katie Holmes into a big enough celebrity to qualify her to become Tom Cruise’s paramour and bearer of his child. 3) Pepper’s extensive consumer products experience will help Disney’s extensive line of consumer products. 4) P&G’s anti-counterfeiting campaigns more or less mirror those set in motion by Disney against piracy and knockoffs. 5) P&G wrestles with a product boycott because of the company’s animal testing claims, not unlike Disney’s battle against a product boycott because of sweatshop claims. And, finally, 6) P&G is an expert at controlling bad press. (The company had to knock down all those ridiculous satanism rumors over the years.) Disney is an expert at controlling all press.
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