There Is No Such Thing As Bad Publicity: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
August 29, 2023

"There is no such thing as bad publicity" means that even if people are talking negatively about someone or something, it's still beneficial because it brings attention. The underlying idea here is that all positive or negative publicity increases visibility and awareness.

In short:

  • "There is no such thing as bad publicity" means all attention, good or bad, is beneficial.
  • The phrase suggests that even negative attention can increase visibility and interest.

What Does "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity" Mean?

The saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity” means that any attention is good for promoting someone or something. The logic behind this is that even if people criticize or speak negatively about something, it can still spark curiosity and interest in others. This can lead to increased discussions, awareness, and sometimes even support or sales.

Let's dive deeper into its core meanings and applications:

  • The saying argues that being talked about, even in a negative way, is better than not being mentioned at all.
  • It implies that controversy can attract attention and can sometimes even be a strategy for some businesses or individuals.
  • The phrase cautions that one shouldn't be too worried about negative attention, as it can have unexpected positive outcomes. For example, a controversial book might sell more copies because of the attention it's receiving.
  • However, some disagree with this view, believing that a bad reputation can harm a brand or person's image in the long run.
  • Similar ideas include "All press is good press" and "Any news is good news."

Where Does "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity" Originate From?

"There is no such thing as bad publicity" is often attributed to P.T. Barnum, the 19th-century American showman and circus owner. However, there's no hard evidence that Barnum was the first to use or coin the phrase. The earliest version of this idiom in print is from a newspaper article in 1915, which says, "All publicity is good if it is intelligent." A similar expression was used by Oscar Wilde, who said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Historical Example

A more modern variation of this phrase was coined by Brendan Behan, an Irish writer and Republican, who said:

"There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary."

10 Examples of "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity" in Sentences

To give you a clearer idea about when to use this phrase, here are some examples from various scenarios:

  • When the movie received negative reviews, the director said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity," expecting more people to watch out of curiosity.
  • Do you think the scandal will ruin us? I don't think so; there is no such thing as bad publicity.
  • When writing, always remember there is no such thing as bad publicity; any attention can benefit your story.
  • The author's controversial remarks led to a spike in book sales, highlighting that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
  • When his stunt failed, he shrugged it off, saying, "Attention is attention, and there is no such thing as bad publicity."
  • I don't suffer fools, but I believe there is no such thing as bad publicity.
  • The artist's controversial music video stirred debates but also made him famous, showing that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
  • They say even if a company might go out of business, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
  • While some viewers disliked the show, ratings are up, proving once again that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
  • No worries about the negative press; there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Examples of "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity" in Pop Culture

The phrase has been a staple in pop culture, signifying that attention, no matter its nature, is always beneficial.

Let's look at some notable instances:

  • An article on Living Life Fearless discusses the concept in the context of cancel culture and how, for unknown brands, any publicity might be beneficial.
  • A chapter titled "12.7 Crime Media and Popular Culture" mentions the old adage in the context of media attention and moral panic.
  • The movie director Vincent Gallo found the saying ringing hollow in relation to his film, as mentioned in an article from Chron.
  • An article from Oberlin College's publication, Pop Culture Digest, reinforces the idea that bad publicity often still serves a purpose in Hollywood.
  • Elon Musk's actions and the subsequent media attention prove the adage, as discussed in an article from NZ Herald.
  • An article on Film Inquiry discusses the backlash against the "Ghostbusters" movie and how even negative attention can drive interest.

Other/Different Ways to Say "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity"

Here are a few expressions that convey a similar sentiment: 

  • All press is good press
  • Any news is good news
  • The bad news is still news
  • Attention is always good
  • There's no bad attention
  • Even bad reviews are good
  • All spotlight is good
  • Being talked about is always beneficial
  • Controversy sells
  • Scandal brings success

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity":

  • What does "there is no such thing as bad publicity" mean?

It means that any kind of attention or publicity, be it positive or negative, can be beneficial because it raises awareness or sparks interest in the subject being discussed.

  • How can I use "there is no such thing as bad publicity" in a sentence?

You can use this phrase to comment on situations where something controversial or negative leads to increased attention or success. For example: “Some are taken with the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity, no matter the scandal.”

  • Where did the phrase "there is no such thing as bad publicity" originate?

The exact origin is debated, but it's often attributed to P.T. Barnum, the famous 19th-century showman, suggesting that any publicity, good or bad, helps get the word out and attract attention.

  • Can this concept backfire?

Yes, while any attention can bring awareness, extremely negative publicity can sometimes damage a reputation or brand to an extent that it might not recover fully.

  • Is the phrase still relevant in today's digital age?

Absolutely. In the age of social media, news and rumors spread faster than ever. Controversies can lead to viral trends, making the subject even more well-known. However, the consequences of negative publicity can also be amplified in the digital realm.

  • Do all industries believe in this concept?

No, while many in the entertainment industry might abide by this idea, other sectors, especially those sensitive to trust, like finance or healthcare, might be more wary of negative publicity.

  • Can it be applied to personal branding?

Yes, some people use controversies to boost their personal brand or online presence. However, it's essential to tread carefully, as negative publicity can also harm an individual's reputation.

  • Has the concept been used purposefully as a marketing strategy?

Indeed, some brands or personalities use shock value or controversial tactics in their campaigns, banking on the idea that the resultant buzz, even if negative, will increase their visibility.

  • Are there examples of this phrase proving false?

Yes, there have been instances where bad publicity severely harmed a brand or individual's image, leading to financial losses or tarnished reputations.

  • How can one counteract bad publicity?

Transparent communication, sincere apologies, corrective actions, and positive community engagement are some strategies to counteract or mitigate the impact of bad publicity.

Final Thoughts About "There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity"

The saying "there is no such thing as bad publicity" underscores the power of attention and its potential benefits. However, it's essential to note that while any spotlight can increase awareness, not all publicity guarantees a positive outcome.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "There is no such thing as bad publicity" suggests that all attention, even negative, can be advantageous because it creates awareness.
  • Though the phrase has its roots in older times, its relevance remains in today's digital age, where viral trends can skyrocket in popularity overnight.
  • It's a double-edged sword: while controversies can boost interest and discussion, they can also lead to potential damage if not handled well.

In today's ever-connected world, navigating the waters of publicity requires a mix of authenticity, strategy, and, sometimes, a dash of courage.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy