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GoodandBadPR: Glorious Ghostbusters, terrible Towergate

14th July 2016


Good PR

When there's something strange in your neighbourhood, you know that the Ghostbusters won't be far behind. Hopefully. You've probably heard that this week marks the cinema release of the new Ghostbusters movie; the latest in the film franchise since the classic ones from the 80s. I've been looking forward to this for a while, especially as we get to see some funny female Ghostbusters in action this time.

If your commute regularly takes you through London's Waterloo station, or you've passed through there recently, you may have seen that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man put in an appearance with an epic temporary installation of the spooky character busting through the tiled flooring looking all sinister and... delicious. What? I love marshmallow, OK?

There was also some green slime thrown in for good measure hanging down from the ceilings, reminding everyone that came across the display that the film was out. So, if they weren't thinking about going to see it before, they hopefully were after!

The London tube map was also given a ghostly makeover, complete with the Ghostbusters logo and renamed stops such as West Monster (LOL), Notting Kill Gate and Camdead Town. Brilliant. Banners around the station reminded people of the film's release too and slime floor decals and business cards that were handed out promoted a Ghostbusters hotline - 0800 2229 911 - next to the legendary 'Who you gonna call?' phrase. Call the number now if you want a bit of a giggle.

Sony Pictures is behind the movie's promotion and Forbidden Planet also got in on the action with a pop up unit in which people could buy limited edition Odeon tickets and souvenir tins. The pop up took on the appearance of a New York Subway style entrance to add to the feel of the stunt.

Passers-by were encouraged to make use of the hashtag #ghostbusterswaterloo to share their pictures of the epic display, so check that out if you want to see how it all looked. There have been plenty of good reviews of the movie and the Waterloo stunt has been featured far and wide; on the Metro, BBC, Time Out, Toronto Sun and Londonist to name a few.

I'm sure this cost a small fortune to make happen, but it looks as though the efforts and spend were well worth it.

Bad PR

This week's bad PR gong goes to Towergate Underwriting Group. The insurance provider has been fined £2.6m by the Financial Conduct Authority for failing to protect client and insurer money properly. Alarm bells started ringing when the firm found an unexpected £1.45m from interest payments in its bank accounts back in 2013.

The interest had built up over a period of eight years (2005-2013) when the insurance broker moved money between client, insurer and its own accounts, but it was never meant to build up. This activity also meant that customer cash was not protected in the event of the company going bust.

A shortfall of £12.6 million in client and insurer money bank accounts was uncovered and the FCA has said that Towergate's systems and controls were not up to scratch which is why it took so long to discover.

Towergate's former CFO, a chap called Timothy Philip who left in 2012, was also fined £60k by the FCA and banned from overseeing client and insurer money. Something like this is enough to have a big impact on a brand's level of trust and I'm sure plenty of people will now question whether or not they want to leave their money in the hands of a company that has left customer funds vulnerable in the past.

The news of Towergate's FCA fine has been picked up widely and I've seen it on the likes of the Telegraph, City AM, Insurance Age, Citywire and plenty of other titles.  

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter

Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or [email protected] on email.



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