02/03/2011 - 08:43

Analysis: Oswals spinning out of trouble

02/03/2011 - 08:43

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If Pankaj and Radhika Oswal have set out to deliberately infuriate most Australians then they are doing a damned fine job, though it seems more likely that what we're watching is a carefully planned public relations campaign.

If Pankaj and Radhika Oswal have set out to deliberately infuriate most Australians then they are doing a damned fine job, though it seems more likely that what we're watching is a carefully planned public relations campaign.

The end game in this PR operation will be an announcement some time later in the year that the climate in Perth is too hot for the one-time glamour couple to ever return.

When that step is taken no mention will be made about much of the heat was generated by anger over Oswal stories appearing over the past few days in newspapers and on television.

Cunning, isn't it?

The Oswals, once famous for being part-owners of a fertiliser business, a big house, and an assortment of expensive "toys", are now famous for holidaying at a resort in the Maldives, a favourite getaway for the rich and famous.

From their luxury accommodation the husband and wife team have been able to safely lecture Australians on what's wrong with our country, why the banks have acted incorrectly in seizing their assets, and how they will dictate the future of assets, such as their Peppermint Grove mega-mansion, from overseas.

It is, of course, utter nonsense, but it is a strategy to be admired, and one that the legal profession and the banks will find hard to combat.

The key issue is that the Oswals are fighting a political battle whereas the lawyers and bankers think it's all about right and wrong.

That point was clearly obvious when the PR push hit top gear and not a peep was heard from the assorted law firms representing banks and other Oswal creditors.

It was almost as if the two sides were speaking a different language - which, in fact, they probably are because PR "spinning" is both an art form and a science, and devilishly difficult to deal with.

While the lawyers and bankers have been scoring win and after win in the courts, including an order to pay a Perth builder $423,000 for work on the PG Taj, and an order to surrender a corporate jet, luxury cars, and other knick-knacks, the Oswals have been crying foul and alleging that Perth is prejudiced.

Well, if we weren't prejudiced before we certainly will be soon, which is precisely what the Oswals are setting out to achieve, and which could probably be tested with a poll of public opinion - perhaps the next step by their chief PR spinner, Chris Codrington.

Always a smooth operator, Codrington has masterminded a number of similar "get out of difficulty" PR campaigns for earlier generations of Perth entrepreneurs.

He probably has not gone as far as commissioning a poll of public opinion to support the Oswal contention that Perth is too hot for their return, but there is every chance he's thinking about it.

None of this is a criticism of Codrington, or the Oswals, because PR spinning is a game played on a daily basis by politicians and business people.

As an example of political spin at work it's worth visiting the media statements library of the WA Government where you will discover that since the start of the year a whopping 233 media statements have been made in just 60 days, with most of them a waste of space, and the only difference from the Oswal/Codrington spin being that we get to pay for what the government bowls up.

If there is anything positive out of what's happening with the Oswals and their legal/banking problems it can be found in the wily PR campaign which is based on the premise of angering the opposition to the point where it says or does something silly.

Much the same approach was adopted recently by advisers to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who accused the British, U.S. and Swedish government of acting together to ensure that he did not get a fair trial on sex abuse charges.

Assange's PR campaign hasn't worked yet, but it might on appeal.

The Oswal case is totally different to that of Assange, but the PR spin is from the same text book.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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