It has been precisely 5 months since my last ‘Good, bad and darn right ugly of PR’ blog and I would firstly like to apologise to my avid readers for the 5 barren months, I hope you have found something else to read. Secondly, I would like to say ‘you’re welcome’ in advance of reading this bumper edition as the mini sabbatical has allowed companies/firms across the world to enhance their reputation through phenomenal PR and, in other cases, some quite frankly dreadful campaigns that have tarnished reputations beyond repair. Let’s start with the good stuff…

The Good

Not just a pretty face

National treasure and everyone’s favourite Islander, Chris Hughes launched a mineral water, alongside Top Man, that was infused with his tears, called L’Eau de Chris. Girls and Love Island fans across the country were revved up into a storm about this ‘OMG, you can actually buy his tears!’ ‘Even better you can drink them without it being weird’. This story got picked up everywhere and anywhere, with pretty much every news outlet talking about it. Exactly what Chris and Top Man had in mind, as the real reason for the campaign was to raise awareness of male mental health. Mr Hughes had recently become an ambassador for the Campaign ‘Against Living Miserably’ for World Mental Health Day. L’Eau de Chris was used to show that men are being ‘ludicrous’ by bottling up their emotions - a phenomenal campaign for Chris, Top Man and for raising awareness of male mental health. Oh by the way, if anyone wants a bottle, I have 3000 in my garage…

Not all going South for Southern Rail

One of the best bits of PR this year came from Southern Rail, who executed the age old ‘let’s do a banter twitter thread with our supposed intern Eddie to distract people from the sh*t show that is our train service’. 15-year-old Eddie was seemingly given the reigns of Southern’s twitter account and boy did he make it his own, introducing himself to 161,000 imploring them to ask him questions using the hashtag #AskEddie (which subsequently trended on Twitter.) Within hours, the GCSE student had more than 6,000 likes and questions had flooded in. From the predictable, “Shall I have chicken fajitas or chicken thai green curry for dinner?” (“It has to be the fajitas” replied Eddie); to the practical, “Can you drive a train?” (“No, not yet. I am 15”). Eddie, it seemed, had an answer for everything. This was also picked up everywhere with the Daily Mail leading with the headline: “The only decent thing Southern Rail has done in two years”. Instead of just effing and blinding at Southern Rail the public now follow up their swearing with: ‘to be fair to them they did do that good twitter banter’...  Possibly just possibly, Eddie the intern has bought the rail company a few more minutes in the public’s good books.

Five Star(bucks)

We love/ like drink their coffee but hate their morals (and tax dodging) but American super-chain Starbucks announced an initiative in early September that has seen Brits changing their opinion on the high street coffee giant. Across 350 stores throughout the UK, Starbucks have announced its decision to half the price of perishable foods in the last hour of trading – that’s nearly half of their UK stores. What is more, the brand will be then giving the money made from the discounted sales to the charity Action Against Hunger. The positive write-ups for this story are everywhere – more than 50 articles and counting.  A nice story from the coffee giants of Seattle.

The Bad

Sainsbury’s tail between its legs

I have said it before in this blog, that if there is a story about dogs it will be included! Sadly this isn’t a great one for the dogs. UK supermarket maestro Sainsbury’s found itself in some trouble after accidentally causing harm to man’s best friend via a direct mail door-drop, sending promotional chocolate bars to households around the country. As everyone knows, apart from Sainsbury’s HQ (it would appear), chocolate does very bad things to dogs; it’s actually poisonous. This was such a serious issue that it even made BBC Radio 5 Live. The Birmingham Mail went all out over the situation, writing: “vets have branded the situation an ‘emergency’”. Maybe it’s time for the Sainsbury’s strapline to be changed to “Live less or unwell”?

They think it’s all Uber, it could be now!

Let me set the scene, its 3am, you’re in your local watering-hole, the lights come on, you stumble out the door and squint at your phone. Instead of the Uber app, there is a blank space, and you are suddenly at the start of a 2hr45min three-bus slog home. This could be a reality for Londoners after the taxi hailing company had their license to operate in the big smoke revoked. To say Londeners took this badly would be an understatement; I legit saw people crying in the street. The company has been labelled ‘not fit for purpose’ by TFL, and since the verdict has been released, many horror stories of people’s dreadful Uber rides have littered publications across the capital. The hope is that Uber will spend a shed load of cash on fixing their problems and we will be leaving nightclubs in hordes of Toyotas in no time, but failing that, this could be the end for the company in one of their biggest markets. Gett, Llyft, Kabbee… London is momentarily yours for the taking!

The Darn Right Ugly

Dove Tailing towards disaster

Skincare brand Dove, usually known for its empowering ad campaigns, has had a bit of a PR crisis this month after being accused of racism due to the content of their new advert. A three second video posted on Dove’s American Facebook page showed model Lola Ogunyemi removing her T-shirt to reveal a white woman, who then took her top off to reveal an Asian woman. People immediately began to insinuate that the advert suggested that white people were cleaner or more beautiful than their ethnic counterparts – Dove have suddenly found themselves in a racist storm and have been forced to withdraw the advert and apologise profusely. Add this to their disastrous bottle shape fiasco earlier this year and the execs of Dove are desperately trying to avoid pelters from all sides of the equality community.   

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