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Christmas comes early for WestJet passengers, but Comic Relief looks forward to Christmas being over

12th December 2013


Ho Ho Ho-ly Moses it’s almost Christmas, so I’m coming at you with some festive gifts in the way of good and bad PR examples from the last week – you lucky things you! Andy Barr is away today so it’s Emma Kent taking the reins for this week. I can neither confirm nor deny that he is away preparing for urgent North-Pole related business. All I’m saying is, he’s got a pretty jazzy red suit in the closet. (That isn’t some kind of euphemism/code either)

Any who, I digress …

Good PR of the week

This week’s good PR will warm the very cockles of your heart and make you immediately want to stand up and declare seasonal love and merriment to all around you* (*this may not happen, but if it doesn’t, you’re officially dead inside).

WestJet, a Calgary-based airline (“where?” I hear you cry) has pulled off the mother of all Christmas-related PR stunts and bagged itself a shed load of coverage; and as such is this week’s deserved PR winner.

Named the “WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-Time Giving’”, see below:

The stunt involved a magnificent feat of festive generosity. Setting up interactive stalls at two airports – Hamilton and Toronto International – the stalls asked those on two Calgary-bound flights what they’d most like for Christmas. Unbeknownst to the passengers, these requests were recorded in real time and sent back to a team of busy WestJet elves who then frantically went out and shopped for said gifts. To pull off the Christmas miracle, each passenger’s gift was wrapped and presented to each of them on the baggage reclaim belt when waiting for their bags in Calgary – with tears of joy aplenty.

The magnificent stunt is the perfect example of how to get noticed at a time when every Tom, Dick and Harry is clamouring for some Christmas-themed coverage. Merry Christmas to WestJet indeed.

Bad PR of the week

It pains me to have to award the Bad PR gong to a charity, particularly as Christmas is the time of giving, but we can’t ignore this week’s hum dinger of negative press coverage that’s appeared for Comic Relief – a situation that even Lenny Henry couldn’t laugh his way out of.

Following a Panorama investigation, it was found that money raised for Comic Relief has been invested in funds that directly contradict what the charity actively fights for – and it has stirred up some pretty tough questions about how the charity handles its investments.

Appazza, Comic Relief has raised almost £1 billion worth of funds for the causes it supports, meaning it has to manage the tens of millions it has at any one time through “managed funds” – investments and such. Now this is where the problem occurred – with Panorama revealing exactly where some of these investments have gone.

Along with investing in shares in weapons firm BAE systems (despite aiming to help people “affected by conflict”), the charity was also found to have invested shares in alcohol giant Diageo – although it aims to help “reduce alcohol misuse.” If that wasn’t enough, the clever things over at Panorama also found that Comic Relief had invested in shares in tobacco companies in 2009 – conflicting with its support of TB charities (with smoking believed to be a contributor to 20 per cent of TB cases worldwide). Oops.

Cue an understandable amount of backlash directed towards Comic Relief which initially stood by its investment practises, but has since been forced to pledge to “do the right thing” and review its policies. Hardly a confidence boost for those who’ve raised money for the charity over the years.

A huge whoops on its behalf – but kudos for eventually stepping out from behind those giant red noses to admit things need to change.

Got anything good or bad that you want to share? [email protected] or @10yetis on Twitter



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