Pranked by Mike Brenner and his twin, Baltimore Business Journal not amused

But Facebook audience mostly is

mike brenner civic hack day

Prankster Mike Brenner at a 2011 Civic Hack Day event.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Selected for the Baltimore Business Journal’s up-and-coming young executive list – “40 Under 40″ – Betamore founder and CEO Mike Brenner decided to play a little prank and sent his twin brother Dan Brenner to the photo-shoot.

On Facebook, Brenner today explained what happened when BBJ editor-in-chief Joanna Sullivan found out the photo they were using in the print and online editions was Dan, not Mike:

She called him up and dis-invited him to next month’s banquet for honorees.

Sullivan meanwhile (in a piece on her site that made Jim Romenesko’s national media industry blog) explained why she found Brenner’s joke “not so entertaining.”

“I’m just a stick-in-the-mud newspaper editor who still worries about our readers getting the correct information,” she wrote. “The BBJ’s credibility is everything. When we make a mistake, we correct it. And in this case, a mere correction wasn’t enough.”

Brenner, for his part, said “sorry” on Facebook this way:

“For the BBJ and their staff, their readers, and the other award recipients that have felt offended or deceived, I do apologize.”

He also asked people to go onto the BBJ site – “not my Facebook thread” –  and ask Sullivan to change her mind and re-invite him.

Publicity Magnet

Reaction has come along since then hot and heavy, mostly on Facebook and almost entirely (205 “likes” and counting) pro-Brenner:

“I’m really sorry to hear they couldn’t take a joke. Life is too short to take so seriously!!! I thought it was funny, totally harmless, and wondered why you haven’t done it sooner,” wrote Monica Beeman.

Some sided with Sullivan, like Jamie Kendrick, who advised disinvitee Brenner: “Next time, don’t be an ass.”

For others, though, the disapproval was all of the mock variety.

“Offended? I’m more than offended. I’m hurt,” wrote Justin Allen. “I don’t know man, there’s just certain lines you don’t cross. Next thing you know, you’ll be cookin meth in a Winnebago way out in the desert with a former student, all the time lying to your family. It’s just not right.”

Others applauded the pranking as some Grade A publicity-garnering, or as Kay Line dubbed it: “Rockstar move!”

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  • ushanellore

    This was sophomoric. Harmless though it may be, it was inappropriate. But when inappropriate is appreciated and applauded there is no true apology offered and the offender doesn’t change. I am sure glad Sullivan is not relenting. In an America where anything goes she stands tall. Keep the bloke disinvited.

    He seems manipulative when he is pressuring her with social media. Twisting arms after dissing the paper compounds the problem. Come on Brenner. Why do you want to be invited if you thought the paper didn’t deserve your respect and could be baited? So this was risible for you. You got your laugh. Now have the guts to stay out and accept the sentence.

  • Eliot Pearson

    I know Mike personally. I think he looked at this opportunity as doing something fun and different. It wasn’t about disrespecting anyone or their craft. I don’t know Joanna Sulivan personally, but I understand if she took exception. I’m glad we are having a public debate about this. It’s getting more people talking about Baltimore and that’s a good thing.

    • ushanellore

      Twins substituting for each other is not different. It is an age old trick. Newspapers have a readership that often looks for print or factual errors and some newspaper editors do take pride in accuracy and veracity of reporting.

      The very people who support this guy as some paragon of humor would take exception to Sullivan if she just laughed over the prank and dismissed it. That also sets a precedent for other asinine CEOs to imitate. If Brenner can get away with it then why can’t they one up him with their own bag of tricks is what some of the young whippersnappers, who made prematurely good, would conclude.

      The tech world creates immature egomaniacs, who are more interested in attention than in form or decorum or respect. If Brenner were interviewing for his company he wouldn’t want the wrong twin to come for the interview or the wrong twin’s likeness to be on a company ID. He wouldn’t dismiss that as joke and he shouldn’t.

      It is not stuffy to expect him to be at the photo shoot. The BBJ does not take itself too seriously. Its concern goes out as warning to others who might attempt the same thing. If you want the BBJ to give you space you better be a mature and dignified businessman. Your jokes are for your friends and for your parties where you let your hair down. Your jokes are not for a public forum that respected you enough to give you space and exposure.

      And this kind of talk about Baltimore is negative not positive but again you may belong to the category that thinks any attention, even negative, is better than none. Apparently Brenner subscribes to the same ethos.

      • joewitte

        Usha- you seem very passionate. Why not come out with your real name and position? Everyone else here has.

        • ushanellore

          Wow, I didn’t see this piece of crazy logic.
          Your passion insists on an Annie, a Fannie,
          an enchanting, entrancing,
          prancing and dancing,
          Anoushka, Latarsha,
          Livona, Ivana,
          But you couldn’t be a Usha Nellore.
          mmm! Joewitte, interesting you think so.

          • joewitte

            Sorry, unusual (and pretty) name. Nope, I’m Joe Witte. Good enough for me. You be you, I’ll be me. And the world will continue to turn with or without us.

  • Fr. Greg Cundiff

    I think the BBJ takes itself a little too seriously.

  • ecogordo

    Anyone that knows Mike and Dan can tell them apart. Newspapers are always under to pressure to meet deadlines. It is understandable that BBJ would not be amused. Jokes are always at someone expense and it is a “business” publication. When they come out with 10 under 10, they better do their homework.

    • ushanellore

      Anyone who knows Mike and Dan can tell them apart. How is that relevant to the BBJ? They obviously didn’t know these guys well enough at the BBJ. In this case they didn’t come out with 10 under 10 but instead with 2 under 2. Also what kind of homework would you have them do? Strip search these guys for tell tale differences? They probably didn’t know the twins, they didn’t really need to know them intimately and they trusted the said Brenner to act his age. There is no preemptive action possible or even needed. Mike Brenner has give the local under 40 business guys a bad rap for a while but this too shall pass until the next headline grabber that he or one of his ilk decides to pull as stunt.

  • Jed Weeks

    This wasn’t a journalism piece, people. It’s a yearly fluff awards ceremony to draw in advertising revenue and promote the paper. Looks like the prank and the subsequent fallout have done exactly that.

    The BBJ doth protest too much, methinks. :)

    • ushanellore

      Fluff it may be but it promotes and awards the person who says he’ll be there for the photo, not someone who sends a look alike. He doesn’t come but instead sends his twin–well and good. Great joke–ha, ha! Reply? You’re not invited to the awards ceremony and we keep the ad revenue. Why not great joke, ha, ha for that too?

      The cronies, the admirers and the think alikes of Brenner protest too much, me thinks.

    • HS

      For all intents and purposes, the BBJ is fluff.

  • Gerald Neily

    It’s BBJ’s party and they’ll cry if they want to – in the immortal words of Lesley Gore.

  • Guest

    I know several of the people in the list and I’m pretty sure they’ve seen 40.

  • ZacharyMurray

    white peoples problems…just sayin

    • ushanellore

      And Black, brown and red people are mature with real solid problems Zachmurray? Come on! A whole host of them spend their time, even at work, watching BET Network surreptitiously ( they think) on their i Pads, while claiming they have no money for anything. But they always have money for technology to feed their insatiable desire to blot out their minds. So do white folks. Underneath, my friend, we are all alike–inane, passive, yearning for attention and easily manipulated by infotainment.

  • joewitte

    What’s funny isnt the joke. That’s from high school. What IS funny is how bent out of shape the Baltimore Whatchamapaper got over a juvenile joke.

    • ushanellore

      What’s funny is that Joe Watchamawitte thinks that the Baltimore Watchamapaper got bent out of shape when it asked Brenner to stay out of its party. The party goes on Watchmawitte. Noone’s bent out of shape except you who thinks someone is bent out of shape.

      • joewitte

        Ushanellore clearly must be an employee of the Baltimore whatchamapaper (or has a parent who is), otherwise ushanellore wouldnt get so sensitive that they work in a dying industry (print?) for a paper that few paper read at a party that no one really cares about. And if they didn’t get bent out of shape, why not laugh with Mike instead of being concerned about editorial accuracy (and post a correction)? It doesnt have to be one or another.

        • ushanellore

          A paper no one reads and a party no one cares a hoot about and yet Brenner wanted himself splashed and advertised in this paper and is using social media to get the “disinvite” to become an invite. Get with it!

          Print media now collaborates with on-line media and TV–they all meld seamlessly, one supporting the other. Balt Sun and local news CBS, I believe, and Balt Sun e-paper are examples. There is something for everyone.

          Those who want to hold a paper have got it, those who want to read on a tablet or on a smart phone have got it and those who want satellite radio have got it. There is a multimodal entry into the market and newspapers, if you haven’t noticed, have gone multimodal to survive.

          They are also asking for payment for their digital editions and people who are their loyal fans are paying for the privilege of accessing them on line. So newspapers as we know them are gone but the clever ones have found resurrection. That, though, is totally irrelevant to Brenner’s shenanigans.

          I understand what you have said, that my passion, displays for you I must have skin in this game, yet, when you attack me rather than address what I have written you show poor taste and boorishness. Hence I am not surprised you defend Brenner.

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