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Do you guys remember "balloon boy?" He and his family are my most vivid memory of a PR stunt gone wrong - and WOW it went way wrong - but probably not in the way you think.


The story most of us know is that the family faked the boy accidentally taking off in a home-made balloon when he had been hiding in the attic the whole time. They were turned into memes, there was jail time involved, and tons of fines. That all sounds pretty bad, but it turns out that story may be a PR spin in and of itself.


There's evidence to suggest the whole thing was a legitimate accident and the family really didn't know the boy wasn't in the balloon, but the city needed to save face. That "saving face" involved threats of deportation (mom is Japanese), tormenting the family with endless interrogation, separating the children and questioning them illegally, and divulging false information to the media. For example, police officers told reporters that the family called the news stations for attention and then called the police. Records prove that the family first called military air service, then the police and called the media last - they were trying to secure a helicopter that could track the balloon. There's a lot more to the story, but we might never know the truth; only that it was a PR disaster the whole way around.

Reddit user u/Swordsy50 asked:

What's the best(worst) public relations stunt you've seen?

Kick back and enjoy some serious shenanigans, courtesy of Reddit and corporate fail whale fantasticness.

LifeLock 

When LifeLock's CEO put his social security number on the side of a truck to show how secure their service was.

He ended up getting his identity stolen 13 times and the company got fined 12 million dollars for deceptive advertising.

- BoiNil

That Backfired Quickly

I'd have to go with the time Bill Cosby's twitter account tried to get people to turn his face into a meme. The linked a meme generator with a picture of Cosby's face. This resulted in #cosbymeme with lots of posts about his assault allegations, which were really coming to a head right around the same time.

- othybear

A Jet

Has to be the Pepsi Points / Harrier Jet situation.

Pepsi had one of those "points" promotions going in the 90s (collect points, redeem them for crap). Pepsi had an ad that said that for 7,000,000 Pepsi points, you could get a Harrier jet. The jet was worth ~$33m . The contest rules said you could buy points for 10 cents a piece. Sooo, for a cool $700k, you could potentially get the jet.

Someone tried to do just that, and sued when Pepsi wouldn't comply

- frnoss

Kendall Jenner's Shameful Secret

That new-ish Proactive campaign with Kendall Jenner. She pretended to have some dark, shameful secret and revealing it was going to be this big, empowering thing. Then the day came and it turned out she just had acne. That was easily the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

- Motherfickle

Taylor Swift

When Taylor Swift let the internet vote on what school she would perform at, and the top voted school was "Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing."

- michaelscottpaperco-


Taylor Swift discussed doing a gig, but between her and the school decided to donate money instead, she also gave the students of the school tickets for her next local concert. So all in all a pretty good reaction to a bit of internet trolling and a win for all concerned :)

- evilamnesiac

Balloons

Cleveland.com

Balloon Fest in Cleveland in 1986 put on by United Way. Who knew that launching 1.5 million balloons would cause havoc around the city and lead to two deaths? There was a boat accident and authorities couldn't find the survivors because the balloons covered the water.

- Ersh777

Dan v. Dave

Reebok launched the "Dan vs Dave" campaign in the 90's for the Olympics hyping up who is the greatest athlete in the world Dan O'Brien or Dave Johnson. The commercials were non stop. They were decathlon athletes and clear favorites. It was always a major risk to sink so much time and money into a sport barely anyone watched. It became a nightmare for Reebok when O'Brien failed to even qualify to make the Olympics. Johnson only won bronze.

- Scoob1978

Just Guess 

That time Snapple tried to have a fucking world record sized popsicle in NYC in the beginning of summer?

Guess what happened. Just guess.

- Soulger11


An article about it said:

"What was unsettling was that the fluid just kept coming," Stuart Claxton of the Guinness Book of World Records told the Daily News. "It was quite a lot of fluid. On a hot day like this, you have to move fast."

I'm f*cking crying, that sounds equal parts horrifying and incredibly funny.

- Ulti

Wrong Casey

Telstra (Australian phone company), promoting Australian Idol winner, Casey Donovan, by linking to her website caseydonovan.com.au except they left off the au suffix and it introduced thousands of teenage fans to the world of gay US porn star Casey Donovan.

- mandown72

Not For Women

Anyone else remember Dr. Pepper's bizarre "It's Not for Women." campaign? They were trying to corner the men's diet soft drink market, so for their new product Dr. Pepper Ten, their ad campaign literally just explicitly stated "It's Not for Women." Like dude, c'mon, I get you want to market toward men, by why blatantly alienate half of your potential customer base??

- marineman43

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Now that college has become a standard requirement for so many jobs and careers, there is a massive push by high schools to get their graduating students accepted and enrolled at an undergraduate college.

On the whole, that's undoubtedly a great thing. A more educated workforce will be prepared to solve the most complex issues facing human beings in the next several decades.

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Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

The person on the other end of a 911 call has a truly remarkable job.

For those who don't play that professional role, we hope to never encounter the 911 call interaction. But if we do find ourselves making that call, the moment is an anomaly in our lives.

The chaos, the panic, the racing heart, and the desperation are all emotions we, ideally, don't experience on a regular basis.

But for the operator on the other end, our call is one in a long line of calls they've received all day, and all the workdays before that one.

It's difficult to imagine being embedded in those uniquely urgent, emergency moments all the time.

Some Redditors who are on the other end of that call shared their experiences on the job.

WhimsicalxxButcher asked, "911 dispatchers what has been your most creepy/unnerving call?"

For a few, the most unnerving moments were the calm callers.

There was something just so eerie about how level-headed the faceless human being on the other end could be through such a desperate, tragic moment.

Almost Clinical 

"I had a friend who worked as a 911 dispatcher and he always said the worst call he ever had was a ~20 year old kid who committed suicide by mixing a bunch of chemicals together in his car to produce hydrogen sulfide gas."

"He said that the most unnerving part was hearing him calmly listing off the chemicals, the type of gas produced, and the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the body (namely the almost instant death it causes at high concentrations)."

"He ended the call by providing the address of the parking lot he was in and saying that nobody should approach the vehicle without hazmat equipment."

"Apparently after that there was a whooshing sound as he dumped the last chemical into the mix, and then the line went dead silent aside for a quiet fizzing noise."

"I know that call screwed him up because he almost never talks about stuff that happens to him on the job. He quit a few months later to go into construction management, and frankly I can't blame him."

-- iunoyou

Planned Out 

"A woman called me, saying she was going to kill herself. She was gassing herself. Gave me her name & address then said she was just going to lie down and 'go to sleep.' And stopped responding to me."

"I kept the line open, trying to get her to speak to me, and eventually heard officers forcing their way in to find her body. I guess she just wanted someone to find her body."

-- mozgw4

Before It Set In 

"When I got a call from a 6 year old who got home from school and laid down to take a nap with his dad. His dad never woke up."

"The kid was so calm when calling it broke my heart."

"I ended up leaving dispatch shortly after. I was good at compartmentalizing the job for the year I was doing it, but it would've broken me in the long run."

-- tasha7712

Other 911 operators were unfortunate enough to receive a call from the very last person they wanted to hear from: a loved one.

These dispatchers' unique position gave them the unexpected access to a family member or friend at their most dire moments.

No More of That 

"My family member is a long time first responder, and 'retired' into doing dispatch. He heard the address (someone else was taking the call) and realized it was his daughter's house."

"He rushed over there just in time to see them wheeling her body out. Overdose."

"Five months later, he was called to his ex-wife's place because his grandson (son of the daughter who recently passed) had his door locked, lights on, but wasn't responding to his grandma."

"He broke the door down and found him deceased in bed. Overdose."

"He's very stoic after years of all sorts of traumatic situations but my heart hurts whenever I think of what all of this must have felt like. Like sand through your fingers."

-- bitchyhouseplant

Knowing the Address

"Not me, but my grandma. I was sitting in the dispatch office, (very small one only 2 dispatchers including my grandma) but she put out a dispatch that there was a gun shot from my best friends address."

"My heart sank to my stomach and broke later that day. He committed suicide."

-- OntaiSenpuu

When it Happened 

"My uncle passing away. Worked as a small town dispatcher for a year or so. Had a bunch of messed up stuff happen on shift, but this call came in in the still hours of the night. Small town, so not many calls after midnight."

"I answered and recognized the name and address on caller id. Aunt was in a frenzy so didn't recognize my voice. I remained calm and got ems and fire rolling to them, but by my aunt's own words he was already blue."

"I went thru debriefing and mandated therapy for a couple other things that happened, but never really talked to anyone about this. I just try not to think about it."

"That was the call I figured out I needed to find a different job."

-- dangitjon

Finally, some simply had a front row seat to sudden tragedy.

These operators were flies on the wall when disaster struck. They never asked to witness what they witnessed, but sometimes that came with the territory.

A Holiday Tragedy 

"My mom is a 911 dispatcher. Early on she said one Christmas Eve while working she got a call from an elderly lady who's husband had just collapsed(and died) from a heart attack and in the background Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music was playing on blast."

"The lady was screaming and crying and begging for her husband to wake up but my mom could hear his gurgling in his last breathes. She doesn't listen to or watch Alvin and the chipmunks since."

-- Blueflowerbluehair

What is it About Christmas?

"Christmas night. 911 call with crying child on the other end. A neighbor had run her car over her mom during a domestic."

"The mom crawled to the porch bleeding and the child saw the car coming back. I had her hide quietly in a closet with the cordless phone."

"The 10 year old child was crying and screamed that she hated Christmas. She was afraid of the police when they got there."

"I kept her on the phone until she felt safe enough to give the phone to an officer. I almost fainted after that call was over. Had nightmares for a while."

-- 2FunBoofer

Close to Home 

"Not a dispatcher but I handle radio communications for the Coast Guard. One night I was on the radio and got a call from an 11 year old kid whose boat had started to sink. He was out with his dad and 6 year old brother."

"They had been hit by another boat and his father got knocked unconscious. I remember the entire conversation up until the radio had gone underwater."

"They ended up finding his dad floating on his back alive but the two boys didn't make it. That one really fu**ed with me because my two littlest brothers were around the same age as the youngest."

-- HIRSH2243

A Horrible Clock 

"Another one that stays with me was the man who called in. It was the anniversary of his adult son having hanged himself. He'd now come home to find his wife had done the same."

"That date is always going to be a black day for him."

-- mozgw4


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

Again, we hope you never have to use the 911 call in your life. Nobody wants to be involved in a sudden emergency or a tragic incident.

But hopefully, if you do, an operator like one of these thoughtful, sensitive Redditors is on the other end.

Image by Nguyen Dinh Lich from Pixabay

When I was moving on from middle school to high school my parents had me tested for the "gifted" program. By some miracle I passed and was accepted. And then I turned it down. Everyone was irritated. "This will pave the way for any college you want! You'll learn so much!" his path will set you up for life!" Every adult tried valiantly to sell me this merchandise but in my gut I just wasn't buying it. So I "settled" a level below, merely advanced classes. And upon reflection... it was the best choice I ever made.

Redditor u/dauntlessdaisy was wondering how far some in life got by asking... For those of you who were considered "gifted" in school, what are you doing with your life now?
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Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

There's a million things that can happen to you while out on on the road.

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