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Good and Bad PR: Hats off to Iceland!

15th November 2018


Good PR

Budget supermarket chain Iceland does rather well in the PR stakes, especially after announcing its vegan-friendly burgers and that it wouldn’t be using palm oil in its own-label products anymore.

However, it was that controversial ingredient that was the focus of Iceland’s Christmas advert this year, which won’t actually make it on air as it’s been deemed “too political”. For a bit of background, the cartoon advert shows a baby Orangutan – “Rang-tan” – in a little girl’s bedroom making a bit of a mess, with Emma Thompson doing the voiceover for both characters in the form of a poem. When the little girl tells the Orangutan to leave, but quickly asks why he wanted to live with her in the first place, clips of forest destruction and his story are shown, with humans destroying his habitat and killing his mother.

The little girl then vows to fight for the Orangutan and spread the word about Palm Oil and allows him to stay. Clearcast, the organisation that decides if adverts can be broadcast, said it had concerns that the advert “doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP (Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice) code.”

The clip was actually a film that Greenpeace had made for one of its own campaigns originally, but Iceland had got the organisation’s permission to use the video as its own Christmas advert.

Anyway, there was nothing stopping Iceland sharing the video online, via the brand’s social channels, so that’s exactly what it did…

At the time of writing this, that post on Twitter had more than 90,000 likes and retweets and it’s being shared by anyone and everyone on other channels too. It’s clearly struck a chord, with a petition set up to allow the advert to be aired now reaching close to 900,000 signatures or its one million target.

This week, Iceland also sent an animatronic orangutan onto the streets of London to raise further awareness, which generated even more PR coverage for its ‘Orangutan-friendly Christmas campaign’ (there’s a new Christmas-inspired foodie range that is, of course, palm-oil free).

I think Iceland knew that the advert would raise a red flag and not make it to broadcast, so this has been an incredibly clever execution of the brand’s Christmas campaign. The buzz surrounding the advert is much more than if it’d been released normally and just got a load of “ahh that’s heart-warming” coverage. It’s had more than 30 million views in total online and is on track to be the UK’s most popular Christmas advert ever. Google ‘Iceland Christmas Advert’ and you’ll see the insane amount of coverage it’s had. Nice work Iceland!

For further analysis of the PR impact of this campaign read The PR repercussions of banning Iceland’s Christmas ad 

Bad PR

The AA and RAC have both received some bad press this week, after an investigation by Money Mail found that the breakdown companies, which are the biggest in the UK, are leaving motorists by the roadside for up to 12 hours after they get in touch for help.

During the investigation, some people said they’d ended up having to call an independent roadside recovery service to come to their rescue instead, with others abandoning their vehicle after long waits and relying on friends, family or calling a taxi to help them out. 

Apparently, an investigation uncovered that complaints about breakdown companies almost doubled last year and that they’re set to rise even further. Online dispute service Resolver dealt with 360 complaints in 2016-2017, but this increased to 711 the next year. By the end of this summer, there were already 446 complaints, putting them on track to receive 1,000 by the end of the 12 months.

Poor service has been at the centre of these complaints and the story has so far been featured by Money Mail/Mail Online and The Sun, with more to follow no doubt. It’d be interesting to see how membership for the AA and RAC has suffered as a result of these complaints and the investigation.  

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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