It was a hairy week for both 2012 presidential candidates – if only because the poll-watching and punditry has reached a new level of frenzy as we enter the homestretch. Yet, Donald Trump, everyone’s favorite blowhard, managed to add one more stupid election trick to his bottomless bag of PR stunts.
Like most of us, I find it hard to take Trump seriously and want to slam his “October surprise.” For anyone who’s been unplugged for a few days, the Donald started the week with relentless hype for a “bombshell” he promised to announce Wednesday. The real estate baron-turned-reality-star tweeted to his 1.7 million followers that the announcement would be a “game-changer” that would give the election to Romney.
Naturally it turned out to be – gasp – a big nothing. Trump released a video offering a $5 million charity donation if the president would release his college transcript and passport application. (Not sure what the school transcript is supposed to show, unless it’s that Obama lied about his major or dropped his Semiotics course.)
Media mostly ridiculed the tired and, ahem, trumped-up birther accusations. My favorite response was Daily Show writer @LizzWinstead’s tweet about the $5 million offer, advising the president not to negotiate with a “hairorist.” That is, until I saw Stephen Colbert’s $1 million dollar offer of his own. It’s NSFW, but you can see it here.
Celebrities got into the act as well, many with offers of their own. Ricky Gervais pledged to give $500 to charity if Trump agreed to give up his own college records and “his hairdresser’s passport.”
So, despite all intentions to the contrary, we’re talking about Trump. Not in a flattering way, yet, in a sense, the stunt worked. The Trumpster earned another 15 minutes in the news and his name was a trending topic on Twitter. More insidiously, it gave rise to a day of speculation about what, exactly he would reveal, from secret Obama divorce papers to a hidden Iran war plan. And for the Romney camp, it was probably an unwelcome distraction from the candidate’s message.
So, the lesson for communicators is that media appetite for election-season sidebars is endless, and that Trump, as always, is shameless. He may be a head case, but in a twisted way, he’s his own best PR person.