Thursday, May 08, 2008

Another Patrick Byrne Public Relations Triumph


Boozer: The Overstock public relations genius strikes again

The flailing Internet retailer Overstock.com, reeling from a string of public relations triumphs mostly inflicted by CEO Patrick Byrne's big mouth, has really bitten the big one this time: the SEC-investigated company has signed controversial NBA player Carlos Boozer as a spokesperson, promptly resulting in new calls for a boycott of the company.

A popular Cleveland website, the Cleveland Leader, describes the real mensch Overstock has signed up:

What do you get when you fool a blind man? Well, Overstock.com likes to reward the most despised NBA player in Cleveland, signing him today to a 4 year contract to help hawk their goods and services. If you are new to the Cleveland sports scene you may have no idea what I am talking about. If you follow Cavaliers basketball there is little doubt that you know that I am speaking about Carlos Boozer, who betrayed Cleveland and the team's then-owner Gordon Gund, who is legally blind, by shaking on a contract.
Hey, come on. Fooling a blind man is kid's play for a despicable company like this, whose CEO shocks what little conscience Corporate America has with his cowardly campaign of menace against critical analysts and the media.

The item goes on to say, quoting the AP:

Among the intriguing pieces of fallout was the decision by SFX, the company that represents Boozer, to disassociate itself from the player, a rare move that spoke to the bad public relations it must have received in the wake of the contract. The agent who worked out the deal, Rob Pelinka, resigned from the company, as well.
What a guy! The Overstock press release heralding the hiring of this nincompoop said "Carlos and Cindy share the same values and ideals as Overstock.com." That's for sure. In fact, I think Boozer may have to adjust his "values" downward to fit in with the cretins who run this company.

Byrne has a full-time stalker on the payroll, the nauseating Judd Bagley, and to make matters more atrocious he has taken in-house an astroturf site operated by Bagley. Byrne just sinks lower with every passing day, to disguise the fact that he is just no good as a CEO and is running his company into the ground.

I assume that the slug-like Bagley was put in charge of vetting Boozer, judging from the terrific reception it's getting. The Cleveland item concludes by saying, after quoting the "values" prattle:

So what is Overstock.com saying, that they share in fooling blind people? Obviously Overstock.com doesn't know who they are messing with. Rabid Cleveland sports fans are known to hold a grudge. Ask Art Modell, Albert Belle, or Papa John's pizza company. They have all felt Cleveland sports fans ire and probably regret it.
There's plenty of reason to boycott this train wreck of a company, and Byrne's hiring of Boozer -- at a prodigious sum, no doubt, for this chronically cash-byrne-ing company -- is just icing on the cake.

One interesting aspect of the Boozer contract is that its duration is four years. In the view of some observers, it is doubtful that this red-ink-gushing company is going to last that long. Hopefully Boozer had his lawyers review the contract thoroughly and had a strong "in the event of bankruptcy" clause written in.

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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