PR disasters happen all the time. Some companies handle them with great dignity and finesse and use them as a learning experience, others try to hide them and make the problem worse when it comes to light. Here is a selection of the best, worst and ugliest PR disasters.
10. Disney-Touchstone Pictures: Kundun (1997)
What happened? Disney, working under their alias Touchstone Pictures, released Kundun, a story about the life of the 14th Dali Lama which portrayed Chinese human rights abuses in a negative light. The Chinese didn’t like it, so in addition to issuing lifetime bans from China to various members of the production team, including writer Melissa Mathison and director Martin Scorsese, they also threatened to ban Disney from the entire Chinese market.
What did Disney do about it? They made Mulan, which was a lot more positive about China. This appeased the Chinese, so Mulan became one of the ten Western films that the Chinese government approve in a year in 1998, although its release was delayed until after the lucrative Chinese New Year period to ensure more profits for locally produced films.
Who came out on top in the end? A win for state control in China.