Service of Too Big and Too Powerful

March 29th, 2018

Categories: Advertising, Commercials, Health, Health Screening, PR, Public Relations, Publicity

In my line of work, I’m thrilled by the stories I bring to media that they embrace. I’m critical of some I read, see or hear when I think of a few appropriate leads I’ve proposed that were rejected by key players. The most glaring example of “how did this get past the editor/producer?” is the constant coverage by legitimate media that gave credibility to the shenanigans of the current chief of state when he started his campaign.

But PR, with its constraints, is the game I’m in and when I hit pay dirt I still get a thrill; when I don’t I try harder.

Richard Whitman’s commentary on struck a nerve because he wrote about the advertising world that unlike PR pays for its communications and if what it sells is legitimate, gets in. The commentary dealt with an uncooperative gatekeeper setting up a roadblock for dissemination of essential information that could save young lives.

In “Cancer Awareness Campaign Supported by Google, But Apple Won’t Play Ball,” he wrote about an advertising campaign for the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation to “raise money and awareness to fight the disease via a set of testicle emojis that consumers can download for $3.99.”

Whitman reports the foundation’s findings: There’s a 95 percent survival rate when the disease is detected early. Also, it is the leading cancer for boys/men 15 to 24.

The ad agency, Oberland, prepared the sticker packs to launch with April, Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Oberland reported that Apple’s reason for declining was: “Your sticker pack is not in compliance with the App Store Review guidelines.” Whitman commented: “Whatever that means.”

He wrote: “Oberland appealed, even sharing a note from the founder of the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation — Kim Jones — which included a personal story of the passing of her son Jordan from the disease at the tragically early age of 22. But the appeal was denied.”

He concluded: “And Apple seems to be going out of its way to prevent that message from being heard by more people than it otherwise might. That’s a head scratcher.  What gives, Apple?”

I once reported to an editor who would wrinkle her nose, hand copy back to me and say, “I don’t like it.” I’d ask what she didn’t like—the topic? the headline? the lead? It was my first magazine job and I was flummoxed when her only response was the look of disgust. Apple acted just the same. Someone could have said to Oberland, “this is what you must do for the app to be accepted.” Nobody did.

Advertising is a different game than PR. It’s more costly and those doing it have control of the message and where/when it plays. Or do they these days—when the gatekeeper to a crucial target audience is a giant corporation that carries a lot of weight? Is this a healthy precedent?

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8 Responses to “Service of Too Big and Too Powerful”

  1. Protius Said:

    We can argue about how, and who let it happen, but quite obviously, power has become much too concentrated in far too few hands in our society. This is but one example of the consequences. Let this continue, and we will end up with global corporate the supposedly “benevolent” authoritarian, and a soon-to-be downtrodden proletariat at the barricades.

    Sounds like the time is ripe for a reincarnation of Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan to “downsize” and restore global corporate to civil control and the rule of law.

    Meanwhile, good luck.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Global corporate with a conscience is one thing. Being able to distinguish between a frivolous app and an essential one is as important as a bank loan officer using sense, not on a computer program that ignores crucial out of the ordinary information to make a lending decision to business or individual.

    I heard on the radio this a.m. that Donald Trump had some nasty things to say about Amazon and as a result, the stock plunged 5 percent. This is a different kind of abuse of power, a tinkering so that insiders benefit from such talk. I don’t recall a president calling out a company like this. Inappropriate.

    People in Washington must get hold of what’s going on. Haywire doesn’t become a stable society.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    How about a headline: “Apple sides with Cancer” or “Apple loves Cancer” along with accompanying story? There might be a good reason for their action, but it’s doubtful.

    PS I’m not in the headline business, so there’s thousands of better ones out there — and the nastier, the better!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The Daily New and Post do such a great job of headline writing. Seriously, I think they are so big with junior smart-at-tech-but-not-at-thinking-beyond-the-obvious at the helm, kids who simply clicked the equivalent of a reject letter similar to the ones people get from a corporation about a job or university about acceptance and the same type of person refused to reconsider.

    Who knows if the art was shocking to the Apple crew? Or if the word “testicular” was on the “No No” list? If so, tell the ad agency and give them a chance to work out the differences to be acceptable. Years ago a client who worked for a major corporation had a Google search he’d made practically ring bells and whistles and his computer shut down. He was looking up a New Jersey county Middlesex. The computer picked up the sex part of the word and kaboom! That’s where people do better work than computers.

  5. Hank Goldman Said:

    This message of yours informed me of something I wasn’t aware of… I of course am well aware of prostate cancer, since I am a survivor, but had no idea that young men were susceptible to testicular cancer… Apple should get the word out.

    Best wishes for a happy Easter and a sweet Passover to one and all of your readers…

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think so too! Parents should also know to get youngsters tested and to get used to doing this given the prevalence of the disease in young men especially and the success of early detection.

    Happy Passover to you and yours and thank you for your wishes.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    “Testicular” is a perfectly good word, and descriptive of a condition. Any organization, involved in communications, too squeamish to use it, should either go out of business or pass the reins to a competent group.

  8. jmbyington Said:


    I was just guessing at what may have troubled Apple staff or red flagged the app so it didn’t pass muster. Like most I felt it an important enough initiative so that any who could spread the word should.

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