Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope racked up its largest ever audience last night, clearly winning its timeslot, and achieving a five city average audience of 1,498,000.

But it’s not like Denton didn’t work for it. 

Media Monitors did a quantitative analysis of Denton’s media exposure in relation to the Carey interview– here are his media mentions since Enough Rope first announced that they’d landed the Carey interview on the 18th of March:

Denton’s media rounds add up to equivalent advertising space for the ABC (at casual rates) valued at $2.21 million, of which Denton’s live interviews made up $1.01 million.

The multi million dollar blitz kicked off in earnest last Friday. Denton began his spruik with Adam Spencer on 2BL, moved on to Neil Mitchell, then Philip Clark on 2GB drive and he then appeared on both A Current Affair and Today Tonight:

Then there was the chunk played on ABC Radio in the AFL pre-match conversation on Saturday, plus the many ads played throughout the weekend’s sporting coverage. On Sunday night the edited extracts released by the ABC publicity machine got a run in most news bulletins nationally and extracts from the interview ran in newspapers nationwide the next day.

Yesterday Denton blitzed both breakfast and drive, and just about every metro station that rates more than an asterisk – Nova, Fox, the ABCs, Fairfax radio, Triple M – you name it he was on it.

Last night Denton stressed that Enough Rope hadn’t paid Carey. Given that every other news outlet allegedly offered six figure sums for the chance to speak to the ex AFL star, the ABC sure got a lot of bang for their (non-existent) bucks. 

But don’t start feeling sorry for poor exploited Wayne.

Carey was howled down after he took the media misstep of first speaking to New Idea with girlfriend Kate Nielson. The claim that the couple were paid $180,000 for the interview did the rounds for days, fuelled by the absence of a denial from New Idea  — but it was a claim that Carey unequivocally denied last night.

Carey also pointed out the hypocrisy of media outlets that feigned outrage at the payment while secretly offering him six figure sums to talk.

Enter Enough Rope. For Carey’s decision to reject the tempting sums and speak to Denton for free, Wayne was afforded the opportunity to speak beyond the soundbite.

“Normally, Denton is a really good outlet for someone like Wayne…viewers don’t think they’re getting a soft ride and you get the opportunity to speak,” Mike Smith of Inside Public Relations told Crikey.

Denton can’t compete with the cashed up commercial networks’ cheque books, but he can offer beleaguered celebrities something the networks can’t — credibility, trust, and time to talk.

Denton’s publicity blitz also meant he effectively went in to bat for Wayne across all media outlets. Although stressing his impartiality, Denton became Wayne’s wing man, answering Karl Stefanovic’s questions, speak at length to the papers to give his impartial, yet not entirely unsympathetic take, on the troubled football star.

Now that’s good publicity. Nobody likes Wayne, but everyone respects Denton.

All a smart PR move on Denton’s part — but did it really work for Carey?

The strategy may have been right, but “it was way too early,” says Smith. “You might be afforded a lot of time to talk, but first you have to make sure you have something to say. Carey wasn’t going to be credible until he got his contrition right, and had done some things to show that he was serious.”

In fact, “the only good thing that’s happened to Carey out of this, in PR terms, is his father coming out.” 

Meet Wayne’s dad:

The Herald Sun sticking a plastered Carey senior across their front page yesterday would’ve compelled even more people to watch last night’s program.

And for Wayne? “It generated sympathy” for Carey better than he personally ever could, says Smith.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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