Good and Bad PR: Aldi wins the supermarket wars but the energy companies have explaining to do

Well hello and a Happy New Year to you all. As we roar back into the office, or WFH station, you could be forgiven for thinking we are in a media Groundhog Day. Train strikes, food price increases, energy price changes, it all feels very 2022 doesn’t it? Fear not though you intrepid public relations warriors, I am here to navigate us through another week of PR highlights and lowlights.

Good PR

Aldi

Aldi came out of the traps flying this week as the first supermarket to provide a Christmas trading update and wow, it was a good one. The press release appears to have been embargoed until midnight last Wednesday, but within minutes of the embargo lifting, all the nationals were covering the story.

It has been the best Christmas on record for the discount brand with sales of over £1.4bn, an annual increase of 26%. I loved how the fun nature of the brand that we so often see on its social media accounts also came across with some of the trivia in the release. Announcing that 1,700 tonnes of sprouts were bought, 48 million mince pies and 38 million pigs in blankets was also a nice touch that the newspapers could turn into great graphics.

A really strong comms start by the German discount supermarket brand and I am sure it is the beginning of another big year for it.

Good (or is it bad?) PR

Prime drink

Further demonstrating the strength of the Aldi name in the media, it was even used by another high-flying brand to keep its own story going. If you are a parent of pre-teens or early teens you will have been subjected to pestering for months for the “sports” (using the word “sports” lightly) drink Prime, launched by Logan Paul and KSI.

The pair of YouTube wan “influencers” launched the drink last year to much anticipation and fanfare via Asda supermarkets and Premier community shops and each batch sold out within seconds of them hitting the shelves. The media stories were appearing to quieten off but then came the announcement that Aldi were going to be stocking the drink and off we went again with picture stories appearing of middle-aged parents and teens rushing, squabbling and queuing to get their fix.

Even though many of us may dismiss the product launch as just “fancy marketing” (quote taken from my local, very rural, Facebook Noticeboard) it has created newsjacking heaven for those of us in the PR world. Everyone from personal trainers being scathing, through to protein brands, have got media coverage by giving their opinion on Prime so although everyone may be knocking it, it is helping the media eco-system. Is this a good thing? I will let you decide.

Definitely Good PR

Withings Urine Reader

Speaking of taking the piss, the Good PR of one product in particular at the Consumer Electronics Show caught my eye and that is a urine monitoring gadget. Plonk the hockey-puck sized device in your loo and it connects (via Bluetooth) to an app on your phone, obviously.

Over time it starts to monitor for ketones which is handy for us (proper style) Type 1 diabetics, but it also does a whole raft of other things. It can help monitor for fertility cycles, hydration levels, vitamin C levels and much more. It is going to set you back around $500.00 when it does officially launch, which is expected to be in Q2 in Europe, pending various health regulator sign offs.

Ella Smart Stroller

So, if everything goes well with that gadget and you find yourself “with child” then may I introduce you to the second Good PR from the CES show, the driverless pram. I mean, come on, in my head this is entirely pointless, but I have said this about many things before and been proved wrong, such as the MP3 Player and the vast majority of North Wales (I do quite like Llandudno and Rhos on Sea - where I lived for a while).

The Ella Smart Stroller press release talks about it being handy for when a toddler wants to hold your hand so you can walk alongside them. Absolutely nonsense as all of us parents know that you are too busy looking at your phone and pushing the pram with the other hand to even notice if your child is still in the buggy let alone is actually trying to communicate with you.

It comes equipped with obstacle sensors, a “rock my baby” mode and a rather terrifying sounding “white noise” setting which, again, all parents will know should be akin to something that anti-terror police use to suppress terrorists in hostage situations which is what it often felt like during sleep deprivation moments with my own kids.

Great PR for yet another utterly bonkers gadget to have come out of the CES show.

Bad PR

Energy companies

Coming back to Groundhog Day and energy companies are going to have some explaining to do and hopefully this will be probed publicly by the regulator OFGEM or the Competition and Markets Authority as the cost of wholesale gas prices fell to lower than they were before the Russians invaded Ukraine.

This should be welcome relief for consumers given the Government quietly lifted the cap that wasn’t really a cap on energy prices from £2,500 to over £4,000 during the aftermath of the Sunak vs Truss v Lettuce tomfoolery. This is where I hope that the CMA goes about its business given its very public December warning of “rocket and feather” petrol pricing strategies employed by the likes of the supermarkets, did actually help drive the price of fuel down over and immediately after, Christmas.

In my own case, I had a delightful letter from EON over Christmas saying that my electricity bill had gone up, but to my huge relief, my gas bill was going down by 0.01pence. Cheers to that.

Have a lovely week you beautiful people and don’t forget to supply me with your own PR wins for next week as I am always on the lookout.

Written by Andy Barr, owner of 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? Abuse and contradictory points welcomed over on The Twitter @10Yetis or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email

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