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Good and Bad PR: Bad Lego and good Starbucks (for a change!)

6th September 2017


Hello there people of the public relations world. What a week it has been. Has a public relations agency ever been on the front page of the Financial Times before? A great publicity campaign by the PRCA. The day after it happened I got an email from the head chef himself, inviting me to join at this important industry time. Genius piece of marketing all round, well, maybe not for Bell Pottinger, but let’s leave it be.

Moving swiftly on, let’s take a gander through the good and bad examples of the public relations world from the last seven days.

Bad PR 

Lego losses
Starting with the brickbats, I was sad to see Lego getting a beating in the press thanks to a slump in sales that has triggered job losses. The children’s (and sad adults’) favourite plastic construction toy company has been diversifying into movies and all kinds of corporate partnerships instead of concentrating on its core product. Its chairman has said enough is enough and it is time to get back to its core offering. A familiar cry from a brand in distress.

Lego had, in recent years, hit new heights in terms of revenue and global profile, so the slump in sales came as a total shock to the industry. It is not all doom and gloom for Lego though. The message was handled amazingly by its comms team both in terms of consistency of message and a crisis communications 101.

Crap PR for Nando’s
Nando’s got some shitty PR this week, literally. It got embroiled in THAT story about the girl who was on a date (at Nando’s), went back to the date’s house, couldn’t flush her poo and then got stuck after trying to throw it out of the window. Happened to all of us no? Nando’s did nothing wrong, but all those godforsaken sentiment analysis tools that we in the industry are forced to use will have churned out that this was a negative story for the chicken-worrying restaurant chain.

Whale watching
When debating the last piece of negative PR to focus on I could have chosen Kim Jong Crazy, the McStrike or maybe even the Sports Direct shareholder rebellion, but no, I am giving the final bad PR to “nature”.

Everyone’s favourite bunch of boffins over at the University of Cambridge reckon that the reason that so many whales got themselves stranded in early 2016 was does to their internal sat-nav being messed with by solar storms. Not just any solar storm either, it is the Northern bloody Lights. How dare they!

If I was reppin’ “Nature” I would go down the route of a proven, template, crisis communications campaign: Apologise, announce an investigation carried out by a third party, when the results are out – sack someone senior (God?) then maybe rebrand and then carry on as normal. (I have not been drinking!)

Good PR

Fashion power
Onto the world of good public relations and an unusual source; France, in an unusual industry; fashion. Christian Dior and Gucci have said that they are no longer going to use underweight models for their catwalk shows. They won’t use models under the age of 16, or under a UK size 6.

The decision will be in place before this month’s Paris Fashion Week and comes, coincidentally, just over three months after the French government banned ultra-thin models from being used in marketing campaigns.

Gold star for Starbucks
Finally, we will end with the much-maligned coffee chain, Starbucks. It has been getting some nice column inches thanks to its decision to half the price of perishable foods in the last hour of trading in nearly half of its UK stores.

What is more, the brand will be then giving the money made from the discounted sales to the charity Action Against Hunger. The positive write-ups for this story are everywhere and it has been written up in over 50 places already. A nice cuttings month for the coffee giants of Seattle.

 Written by Andy Barr, head of 10 Yetis
Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email



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