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A Letter to Alex Hern
Category: Inside Rapanui
Alex Hern decided to write in the New Statesman that we're liars and unethical because our cheeky youtube video, the Michael Fish BASE jump, was done with some trickery.
The main issue seems to be that we didn't reveal that it was trickery... But we did. We told him personally, and every reporter we could speak to, that it was a stunt double before publishing. We asked "Michael Fish" for his thoughts.
*This is a response to Alex Hern's article on the New Statesman. It is hidden and only accessible if you have the URL. Generally we would prefer to avoid tit for tat etc. but were so dissapointed with the comments made we thought it important to reply on behalf of everyone here, especially Michael. Comments are closed.
Michael Fish here. You've made a mistake young man! My minions at Rapanui HQ called every journalist who got our press release to talk about how we made a spoof video. We replied to requests with - "Yes it was a fake, a faux-jump, a doppelganger! ... but it's the first 20 seconds that matter" - or responding to requests for more information (Is it for real? No sorry but it's about the message..)
The company ethos - take a moment to check it out - is at odds with the "completely lacking in ethics" shout too. Unethical! Liars! Poor form.
We could have had this conversation before you published, or if you'd asked us for a comment. But as you didn't, and we can't reply in your comments system (your system says I'm spam... I've got an MBE don't you know!) I'll have to reply here.
I'd rather not have to as I was just enjoying a bath.
How the story was distributed
Rapanui sent the press release out themselves, then attempted to call every journalist who got the story to chat over. They always do that, there's no PRs at Rapanui. Apparently they think that it's more respectful to the journo and more transparent. Everybody they could call who got the release was told that I, Michael Fish (MBE) did not do the jump. Even before the launch, we all (me included) told people how we faked it, when we did it, even who the stuntman was.
This included you, when you spoke on the phone to our Rob.
That's how you got the stuntman's name, my mentor Dan the Man. Because we told you how we did it. The spiel in the release was written “straight” for a reason: because it's ridiculous! Anyone researching this story willknow (if it wasn't obvious) that there's a lot of giveaways. Not least in our comments and replies online that gave the game away - all that if you couldnt be bothered to call. We've been clear that it's a spoof when asked for over a month. We didn't feel we needed to write this under the copy package, or in the video, or in the title, as a disclaimer. What next? Harry Potter published with WARNING, THIS IS FICTION?
This is an impossible video. BASE jumping is one of the most dangerous things you can do. I'm a 68-year old retired meteorologist, not James Bond. You can see the stuntman’s face if you look. We have different bodies, and they were filmed on different days: The streetlights switch from on to off. The stuntman is one of the must famous base jumpers in the world: The tone of the release was half comedy.
Now please re-watch the first 20 seconds of my video. The purpose is to raise awareness of climate change. The side effect (a mention on a blog or tweet that follows) - is to sell a few t-shirts, to allow Rapanui to continue to do what we do and for me to buy some goodies for my retirement, like wine.
You've missed the point, and thrown the baby out with my eco friendly bathwater: The video is trying to make a serious subject (sustainability) fun. Rapanui is a tiny t-shirt shop from the Isle of Wight that has managed to make a genuine contribution to sustainable fashion against the odds, (see ecolabelling).
Other writers and editors who got the story decided – with their own editorial policies in mind – how to edit and publish it, if at all. Most, as is usual, decided not to. Some posted it straight, some adapted it, some added a short “spoiler” at the end for clarity. Many of them will publish a follow-up post this week to reveal all too. Even I said "the video is a bit of fun... with a serious point."
This little video is not completely lacking ethics. Quite the opposite - I'd like to think I've done something good.
I don't think you have. You've temporarily offended a bunch of under 25’s in a tiny t-shirt shop on the Isle of Wight who are doing something positive with their lives, trying to stay in work and going out of their way to make a contribution to sustainability. The way the climate change message was delivered is new, entertaining and accessible. It's also brightened up a few people's day!
So why not just enjoy the a video on Youtube? (It is just Youtube after all, not a front page headline).
And if you have a question or some feedback about the style of doing marketing at Rapanui, just call the boys up for a chat. You'll probably get the guy who sent the email. He'll listen and take on your advice, afford it respect. The same respect showed to the journalists that got a follow up call to talk over how and why we did it.
Or the ones that called and asked if it was real - and got the truth, like you did.
Michael Fish, MBE.
*DISCLAIMER: Michael Fish didn't write this, he's at home in Richmond doing the weather. We wrote it. It's from Mart, Rob, Jamie, Luke, Tori, Pammy, Kathryn, Sarah, Boris and Jack.
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