Hunter College, the luxury brand Coach, fraudulent PR campaigns, and dishonest corporate collaboration with academia are the topics of the day today. Important topics! Adweek has just come out with a long investigative piece on a Coach-sponsored PR class at Hunter, which reeks of impropriety and dishonesty, and ended up tangling a bunch of college kids up in a fake online PR blog that makes them all look like a bunch of shady, dishonest undercover marketing hacks. "I knew a lot of hell would break loose about the class. And it did," said the teacher. Indeed. The condensed version of the whole sordid tale, after the jump.
Coach, along with an industry trade group, had a PR firm develop a program designed to get college kids to join an anti-counterfeiting campaign. They put together a packet of materials to pass to colleges to help them develop the curriculum for a PR class, and a company like Coach would foot the bill. Hunter College signed on, and the school's president pushed a teacher into teaching the class, against his wishes.
More specifically, some faculty at Hunter, part of the City University of New York system, see the class as an example of corporate encroachment on campus and criticize the school's administration, which allegedly demanded that the Coach-sponsored program be offered as a class. Critics claim the motive was to butter up Coach's CEO, Lew Frankfort, a Hunter alumnus, who several months later donated $1 million to the school.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the class ended up developing a PR campaign that featured fake fliers posted around campus promoting a sob story of a fake girl named "Heidi Cee," who had purportedly lost a Coach bag that an ex-boyfriend now serving in Iraq had given her. The class made a fake blog and fake Facebook and MySpace profiles for "Heidi." The blog is impressively overwrought and intricate, with a bunch of posts about her supposedly spontaneous anti-counterfeiting campaign interspersed with typical college student (fake) blog crap. Here, she gets interested in the cause:
U should google the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition... its where I learned most of this stuff. The have pictures that show you how to tell a real from a fake. They have a bunch of other companies that have joined the cause... lol kinda ironic, but COACH is on the list too!
LOL that is the people who iz paying to sponsor ur fake class and ur fake blog, LOL! Full disclosure sux!