Somehow it seems typical of The Sun that they would employ as head of PR a man who thinks it’s amusing to tweet soft porn at women journalists and politicians, and who has no idea how to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong to do that” when called on it.
“No More Page 3” is one of many feminist campaigns I neither oppose nor particularly support: I agree with people who have said there are more important issues (but, no one says you have to always campaign for the most important issues) and I agree with people who point out that the rest of The Sun is problematic too. But, always, the existence of Page 3 is an anti-feminist absurdity and I would be glad to see no more of it. The campaign against Page 3 is exactly the kind of campaign that enrages anti-feminist men, and so is a good thing.
The Times announced earlier in the week that The Sun intended to drop Page 3. The Times being The Sun’s stablemate, both owned by Rupert Murdoch and operating out of the same building, this was regarded as a reasonably solid news even though The Sun’s response was “no comment”.
And then on 22nd January, topless models on page 3 of The Sun were back, accompanied by a snarking headline on the front page “We’ve Had A Mammary Lapse”.
Mark Wallace, Executive Editor of the ConservativeHome website, commented on Twitter on 21st January at 11:11 PM, just after the front pages of the morning newspapers were published “Fair to say my old mate Dylan Sharpe is quite good at PR” and Daniel Hamilton, a partner at Bell Pottinger and a European Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party in the 2014 euro elections, responded “Played a total blinder. I absolutely love it.”
Bell Pottinger is an international PR company, whose role is described as “Managing reputations through every communications medium, we provide a truly integrated approach to modern communications, to ensure that we meet the needs and desires of our clients.”
Pleased and happy with himself, Sharpe tweeted that a lot of people were going to look “very silly” and then tweeted directly to several journalists and politicians, a screenshot of the latest Page 3.
In a statement, Sharpe says:
“Someone with a lot of followers thought I’d done it to be nasty. “No,” thought I, “it’s funny. It’s not about the naked breasts (which had already been tweeted over 10,000 times by other Twitter users) it’s the wink. I am Nicole. I am the winker (you read that right), winking at the people who I had told the day before not to assume page 3 had gone.” But it was too late.
Twitter had decided I was doing it to belittle, to attack, to demean. By 10am I had gained 500 followers, a hate campaign and a parody account.”
It doesn’t ever seem to have occurred to Dylan Sharpe, either now or later, that when he does something “to be funny”, that’s still nasty. Doubtless it amused him and other Page 3 PR experts like Mark Wallace and Daniel Hamilton: doubtless this is the kind of “reputational management” admired at Bell Pottinger.
Dylan Sharpe’s statement isn’t an apology: it’s a gloat. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Dylan Sharpe that you apologise by saying, briefly, “I’m sorry”.
Dylan Sharpe is the kind of PR manager I would expect The Sun to employ: the sort of creepy git who makes nasty jokes, laughs at them himself, and then instructs any women he’s upset to “lighten up”.