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Good and Bad PR: Thomas Cook’s cock-up

12th October 2018


Good PR  

You know when you see something “accidental”, that you can tell straight away was probably a well-thought-out PR stunt? Yeah, well I saw that this week. As it happens, news broke of this last week, but it’s too good for me to not include here.

An image was being circulated of a Thomas Cook plane that had a brand new livery that left people sniggering and blushing in equal measures.

A new design on the planes meant ‘I (heart) Cook’s Club’ was written down the side in giant lettering, to promote the travel agency’s new millennial-focused hotel brand. The problem is, the letter goes over one of the plane’s doors and when that door is opened, the second ‘o’ looks more like a ‘c’, which turns that message into something else entirely. Need a little help? OK, it looks like it says ‘I (heart) Cock’s’.

The fact that this happened so quickly after another airline, Cathay Pacific, made a more innocent typo in its plane livery (“Cathay Paciic”, missing out the ‘f’) makes it seem less of a mistake and more of a PR opportunity to me.

Even if it was a happy accident, I think once team Thomas Cook caught on to how viral the Cathay Pacific story went, they probably thought to themselves ‘let’s get in on THAT action’.

The Thomas Cook story was ignited by a post on ‘A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge’ Facebook page on 3 October – a page with more than 800,000 likes belonging to the first-class cabin crew blogger Fly Guy (or Jay as his mates probably call him). An image of the plane was posted, with the door open and the message “Move over “Cathay Paciic”… another paint job gone wrong”, meme-style.

It only has 328 comments and 1,287 shares at the time of writing this, but from there the story (and image) travelled far and wide. Apparently, the livery was done way before the Cathay Pacific gaff, so maybe this really was a happy accident; however, I still think the Thomas Cook PR team leaked the image through a relationship with those running the Fly Guy Facebook page.

Thomas Cook’s response also makes me think this too; it said “It goes without saying it's an accident, but it is one way to highlight where the emergency exit is” and, on Twitter, “Oops this special livery won't last long! She's going back to the shop!”.

It’s a great way for it to have raised awareness of Cook’s Club; something I as a millennial (and I’m sure many others) had no idea about before. And all millennials love a crude joke, right?  

Bad PR  

Pret A Manger has a PR crisis on its hands right now and no, I don’t think it’s too dramatic to say so.

A couple of weeks ago, a case came to light where a young girl had collapsed during a flight and later died after eating something in Pret A Manager at the airport that contained sesame; something she was severely allergic to and that had not been highlighted on the packaging or the shelving labels.

Now, a 42-year-old woman’s death is also being linked to Pret a Manger. Celia Marsha died from an allergic reaction back in December, after she ate a ‘super-veg rainbow flatbread’.

The lady’s relatives now want answers, but Pret has so far claimed that it (as in, the Pret shop) was mis-sold what was supposed to be guaranteed dairy-free yoghurt by supplier Coyo (which has since denied any blame).

Now, another story has come to light whereby a vegetarian bought a veggie breakfast pot from Pret, only to find pork sausages at the bottom, buried beneath the beans. Pret has issued an apology and said it was a ‘break down in procedure’ and that it would train staff better.

Whatever the case, now that these stories are in the media, many more will come out of the woodwork and Pret A Manger’s reputation will suffer further blows.

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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