iColumn 2.0 – 2009: The Year In Review

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 24th November 2009.

As this year draws to a close, a quick look at the events of the past 11 months suggests that 2009 will go down in the history books as an eventful one. The Black Saturday bushfires, Michael Jackson’s death, swine flu, Britney’s mime act, the rise of Masterchef , Guy Sabastian releasing the most irritating song ever and the crowning of the new Australian Idol (I’ve already forgotten his name) will all become a part of our collective memories and culture. 2009 has also seen several cases of fraudulent marketing where unscrupulous hucksters have done almost anything to get publicity, even if they don’t necessarily have a product or anything at all to market. Let’s relive some of these moments together and then perhaps banish them to the Recycling Bins of our minds. Only last week, two men who pretend to have fights in their underwear for a living, held a press conference where they proceeded to, wait for it, pretend to have a fight, and managed to get themselves covered by the mainstream Australian media. 80’s wrestling legend Hulk Hogan and 16 time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair staged a bloody tussle to promote their upcoming pro-wrestling tour. Pictures and footage of a bleeding Hulkster were featured on the home pages of several major news websites and also made local television news. The story was then picked up internationally, however, the main focus of these stories was the Aussie media reporting on the fight as legitimate. The publicity stunt worked and initial poor sales for the Hulkamania Tour’s first show in Melbourne soared following the press coverage. At least they had a product to promote, unlike my next subject, Falcon Heene, better known as the Balloon Boy. In October, Falcon’s parents, who allegedly met at acting school, reported that he had accidentally floated away in a homemade helium balloon shaped as a flying saucer, resulting in approximately US$2 million being spent on rescue services. The balloon eventually landed without an occupant, sparking fears Falcon had fallen to his death. Of course, the whole time, Balloon Boy was hiding at home the whole time. Falcon’s parents have since confessed to the hoax, admitting it was a publicity stunt. It has yet to be determined what exactly the Balloon Boy incident was meant to be promoting. There was no product to sell, with the exception of a crazy family, but we’ve all got one of those. Hmm, seeking publicity for the sake of publicity… That reminds me of our final attention seeker, a home grown bogan better known as the “Chk Chk Boom Girl”. Clare Werberloff gained worldwide internet and media stardom for a few days when she gave an interview for a Nine Network film crew in Kings Cross. Giving completely false descriptions of a “fat wog” shooting a “skinny wog”, Werberloff had to get herself a publicist to deal with the international and local media requests for interviews. She later admitted that it was all in fun and would be a good story for the grandkids. I can just picture it. “When I was your age I made up a slightly racist story for the television and I was famous on Facebook for 5 minutes. Why don’t you kids play hide and seek in the attic while I launch my giant helium balloon?”

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Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 13:53  Leave a Comment  
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