Good PR of the week
Starting us off this week is what I imagine will be the last of the Olympic PR efforts written in this column.
Timed perfectly as the media started to speculate about post-Olympic blues, Cadbury sent Team GB athletes personalised 1kg bars of Dairy Milk.
Dozens of top athletes, including backstroke world record holder Gemma Spofforth – a chocoholic, her Twitter bio tells us – Tweeted about their freebie to their growing list of followers, ensuring potentially millions saw the act of confectionary benevolence.
Trojan, the US’s most popular condom company, had planned to provide 10,000 vibrators during a two-day promotion in New York City – billing it as the largest event of its kind.
However, the event was stopped short by city officials, who cited that the company didn’t have the appropriate permits. This sparked a mini-backlash by people who were in queues to receive a freebie, even gaining the company a front page splash on the New York Post.
The day after the giveaway was stopped – which my cynical PR mind tells me Trojan knew would happen, creating a David versus Goliath situation where the consumer felt slighted – the company had obtained the relevant documentation, meaning the giveaway was back on, having now had a huge boost of publicity.
It’s one of the best-worked PR stunts I’ve seen for a while, with chessmaster-like execution leading to more coverage than many brands achieve in a lifetime. Although the giveaway would have cost the company a fortune, I’d be surprised if they were anything other than very, very happy.
Bad PR of the week
American comedian Matt Fisher wrote this Tumblr post about some trouble he and his family have been having over the last two years with insurance company Progressive.
In June 2010, his sister Katie was killed in a car accident. The fault was the other driver’s, having driven through a red light, a fact which led to the driver’s insurance company settling immediately. The other driver, though, was underinsured. Based on the policy Katie had with Progressive, it was required to pay the difference.
Progressive refused to pay, which meant Katie's parents had to pursue legal action. The parents had to sue the other driver – something they did not want to do, as you can't sue an insurance company for denying compensation in Maryland. They had to do so in order to establish his negligence and force Progressive to pay. Eventually, the driver was unsurprisingly found to be in the wrong, meaning the company will, at some point, have to pay up.
When Fisher’s blog was shared, people started Tweeting Progressive about the issue, to which, no doubt bound by compliance and senior heads, the account Tweeted every single detractor with the same stock reply, using Twitlonger:
"This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr Fisher and his family for the pain they've had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations. Again, this is a tragic situation, and we're sorry for everything Mr Fisher and his family have gone through."
Progressive’s Twitlonger account has been banned and its messages blocked – I presume for Tweeting the same thing too many times.
Fisher has kept his humour despite everything, Tweeting:
“I figured out how to get a ton of new Twitter and Tumblr followers, but it takes years and quite frankly I don't recommend it.”
All in all, one of the worst examples of PR in recent memory, made worse by stock social media management.
Have you seen any good or bad PR?
Contact PR Rich Leigh with it by Tweeting him @GoodandBadPR or by emailing email@example.com throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.
Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency.