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GoodandBadPR: Gap gets flack

3rd August 2016


Good PR

Upwards of 40,000 lemons that were deemed to be "too ugly" to sell in supermarkets have been rescued from their dustbin destiny by the organic food box company Riverford. Two major supermarkets turned their noses up at the lemons, claiming that the six tonnes of citrus fruit was "unsuitable to meet retailer specification based on appearance". Harsh. Lemons have feelings too guys.

So, not wanting them to go to waste, Riverford snapped up the lemons and took delivery of the crates of fruit at its farm in Peterborough (one of four Riverford farms around the UK). Any customers wanting lemons as part of their order, who'd never judge a fruit by its skin and don't mind a bit of scarring, will have the fruit added to their boxes.

Riverford said that it did not believe in “needless waste” and James Negus (from the Sacrewell Farm) said that the supermarket rejection of the lemons was just "another example of a crazy food system that has forgotten it's producing food, not kitchen ornaments." Hear, hear! He also said that it didn't get a discount on the lemons because it felt "a fair price should be paid to the farmer", which is obviously a nice touch.

Riverford's decision to take the delivery of the lemons, preventing them from ending up in the rubbish bin, has gained the brand coverage on the BBC, ITV and some regional titles. I hadn't heard of Riverford before, but I have now and I've even had a little look on its website today, liking what I saw. So, this seems to be doing the trick in terms of generating wider brand awareness and profile surrounding Riverford's key messages.

Bad PR

After sending a promotional back-to-school email to customers to promote its kids fashion range, Gap probably didn't expect the backlash that quickly ensued; but the brand definitely should have been poised for a bad reaction. Make your own mind up about this one...

The ads in the newsletter have been branded "offensive", "sexist" and also highlight an oh-so-ironic and totally unfortunate spelling mistake. The adverts feature children dressed in different outfits that have each been given a theme, but the two that have ruffled the most feathers are the young boy in “The Scholar” outfit and a little girl branded “The Social Butterfly”.

People have criticised Gap openly on social media for stereotyping and sending potentially harmful messages to young children. People have claimed that the “sexist” adverts in the spotlight suggest boys are intellectuals and girls simply like to hang out with their friends and “not bother their pretty little heads with book learning”.

The boy in the advert - the aforementioned “Scholar” - is wearing a t-shirt with Albert Einstein on the front. The thing is, Gap spelt “Einstein” wrong. *FACE PALM* The person responsible for that faux pas must have been female. You know, because girls just flounce about instead of learning important scholar-type things like how to spell the names of world famous people. Tee hee. Gap has updated the spelling mistake on the website.

So, all in all, a bit of a failed newsletter promo from Gap there. The story was picked up by the likes of The Guardian, Marketing Week, Huffington Post and The Drum (among other titles) and has surely left Gap a bit red in the face.

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 andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email.



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