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Comedy Central is the PR winner this week with their “dumb” coffee shop prank

13th February 2014


Howdy wet ‘n’ windy good and bad PR fans! (That is not a comment on your current health – I am merely starting this with reference to the weather, as many a PRO in the UK has no doubt done with an email pitch this week. We Britons love a weather moan to encourage bonding). It is I, Emma from 10 Yetis, hurling this week’s good and bad PR winners at you; as head honcho Andy may or may not currently be in Sochi competing in the figure-skating category. Keep a close eye out.

Let’s dive right in to this week’s column …

Good PR of the week

Hot coffee

This week’s winner of good PR is a stunt for a new Comedy Central show in the US which has had media chins wagging across the world.

An independent coffee shop cropped up in Los Angeles last week, contentiously named Dumb Starbucks. Seeming to appear from nowhere, the shop attracted some pretty hefty attention for its outrageous piss-taking of the real Starbucks – copying the coffee giant’s layouts, menu and signature branding.

Californians queued around the block to grab themselves some of the free coffee on offer at the store, with such delights as “dumb iced coffee“, ‘”dumb white chocolate mocha” and coffee ranging from “bitter” to “horrible” gracing the menu. According to the shop, no copyright was breached due to the all-important ‘”dumb” in front of the branding, with a statement from the shop owners saying "By adding the word 'dumb', we are technically 'making fun' of Starbucks, which allows us to use its trademarks under a law known as 'fair use’.”

Of course, the world’s media aren’t no fools, and suspicions of a PR stunt lingered amongst all the press attention the store was receiving. And rightly so, as a PR stunt it was – with comedian Nathan Fielder revealing himself as the prankster behind the store for his new Comedy Central show Nathan For You. You can see him in action in a video released by the pranksters a few days ago.

The store has since been shut down by health and safety officials, but not before it amassed over 3,000 Facebook fans and over 14,000 Twitter followers – not too shabby for a stunt that lasted no more than a few days. A pretty impressive social following and a whole host of international press attention means that Dumb Starbucks is a worthy winner of this week’s accolade – and we tip our hats to Mr Fielder.

App attack

Mention this week also has to go to app du jour Flappy Birds – which bagged an unbelievably good amount of PR – so good that the creator hated his own success and, erm, removed the app completely.

In a twist I don’t think anyone saw coming, creator Dong Nguyen couldn’t live with his creation’s popularity – and so removed it entirely from all relevant app stores. Clearly not content with it being the most-downloaded game of the year to date and amassing over $50,000 a day in advertising revenue, Nguyen wrote on his Twitter page that the app’s fame “ruins my simple life.” No known legal issues caused its removal, its creator simply didn’t want it to be as popular as it was.

I have to tip my hat to the game for the amount of press attention it’s received, as well as the subsequent chancers putting their iPhones on eBay with the app pre-installed for thousands of pounds. Just a bit of a shame that the creator didn’t like his own success – proving that PR can sometimes be TOO good.

Bad PR of the week

Valentino blunder

A double whammy for this week’s bad PR, the first of which goes to design house Valentino for a whopper of a press release blunder.

Journalists were somewhat surprised to receive a release from Valentino last week including pictures of actress Amy Adams carrying one of its coveted designs, stating: “We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Duble bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection on Feb 6 in New York.”

Journalists, however, were quick to pick up on the fact that the images of the actress carrying the bag were actually taken outside Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wake; which the grieving actress was stepping out of a car to attend when she was papped. Whoops. Cue a front page splash on the New York Post with the headline “DEAD CARPET” naming and shaming the Valentino press office for its enormous faux pas.

I’m not naming the poor old PRO who has been pinpointed as the distributor of said offending release, but Valentino has been digging out blind to apologise for the poor-judgement release; insisting that “We were not aware the photograph was taken while she was attending the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was an innocent mistake, and we apologise to Ms Adams who was not aware, or a part of, our PR efforts.”

Amy Adams’ publicist even had to wade in to defend her client, stating: “Amy Adams is not a paid spokesperson for Valentino, and the suggestion she would use this moment to participate in a promotion is truly appalling.”

Huge PR shit storm for Valentino, and proof of how important triple-checking a press release can be.

Cruel zoo

I can’t go without mentioning Copenhagen Zoo in this week’s bad PR slot for a frankly appalling decision to slaughter one of its healthy giraffes to prevent inbreeding; despite online petitions signed by over 5,000 people calling on the zoo not to do so.

Marius the giraffe was otherwise healthy, but the Zoo claimed it had “no choice” but to kill the animal as, under European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (Eaza) rules, inbreeding of giraffes should be avoided. The Zoo shot Marius dead and then proceeded to dissect and skin the animal in front of an audience – apparently giving children a good opportunity to “understand the anatomy of a giraffe“. Marius’ body was then fed to the zoo’s lions, to round-up the mildly horrifying spectacle.

The decision to kill Marius, and the subsequent public parading of the animal’s body, has had the world’s media up in arms – particularly since it was found that several zoos offered to take Marius but were not granted permission by Copenhagen Zoo. An event that will no doubt leave a very sour taste in the mouths of all those who may have been planning to visit the zoo in the future.

To see an image go here.

This week's GoodandBadPR was written by @laurenwilden. Got anything good or bad that you want to share? [email protected] or @10yetis on Twitter.



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