A foam pie hands Murdoch relief on a plate

A foam pie hands Murdoch relief on a plate

The man who shoved a plate of shaving foam into Rupert Murdoch’s face this afternoon did the media mogul a huge favour. So much so that cynics might think it an elaborate stunt by News International’s own PR team.

In the minutes leading up to the attack, Murdoch was getting himself into trouble at his Parliamentary hearing. His answers were hesitant and unconvincing. He was unsure of the facts connected with just about every question. He looked out of his depth, and his company out of control.

Then Jonathan May-Bowles had his moment in the spotlight, wielding his foam pie. In an instant, Murdoch became the victim, not the victimiser – an old man being attacked. And there are few things in life more touching than a wife leaping to defend her husband.  Wendi Murdoch did so with deadly, commando-like precision, shoving the foam pie back, with interest, into the attacker’s face, leaving him scarred and humbled. It dominated the news coverage, relegating the real issues to the second page. Meanwhile, only one person was humiliated, and it wasn’t Murdoch.

Aggressive or violent direct action is a crazy, counter-productive communications strategy.  Sure, it gets publicity for the perpetrators – but the wrong sort, diverting attention away from the cause they wish to promote. When rampaging students attacked Tory HQ earlier this year to complain about tuition fees, they made themselves look like spoiled thugs who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a university campus. Most famously, a quarter of a century ago, violence by striking miners fatally damaged their cause.

Thanks to Mr May-Bowles, and for the first time since this crisis began, Rupert Murdoch is getting some favourable media coverage.

Article date

July 19th, 2011

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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