PR Faux Pas: HBO Rep Says Piracy ‘Is a Compliment of Sorts’

Most of the world’s biggest media companies have recently taken some time to endorse or promote the latest anti-piracy campaigns like the so-called “six strikes” law that would use web providers to mess with the service of people who share copyrighted properties.

Despite this fact, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo committed a PR faux pas during an interview with Entertainment Weekly in which he addressed Game of Thrones’s status as the most-pirated show of all time with an effective “meh”. Here’s the money quote:

“I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts. The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.” (Ed. note: a concluding “bitch!” was strongly implied.)

How does this relate to PR?

Well, if your client is a big-name media company that naturally takes a strong stance against piracy and makes a point of issuing a press release to contradict the director of your biggest show on that very point, then you probably shouldn’t grant your president of programming leeway to give the nation’s biggest entertainment magazine a “whatever, man” response.

On a side note, Game of Thrones was pretty disappointing this week, what with the yadda yadda and the failure to advance any major plotlines. Also: show director David Petrarca thinks the social media buzz that comes with such a massive viewership is worth the cost of piracy (which doesn’t really harm profit margins in the first place). Thoughts?

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.