GoodandBadPR: Superdrug takes a stand, fans walk out of Liverpool’s
10th February 2016
Piggybacking PR has to be one of my favourite kinds; there's just something smugly satisfying about surfing the wave of another story with a perfectly timed announcement of your own (or your client's). So, Superdrug's decision to use the tampon-tax drama to get some media exposure this week was a clever move.
If you haven't already seen the story, the health and beauty retailer announced that it was taking a stand against the so-called “tampon tax” by vowing to give customers back the 5% VAT that they would normally be charged as reward points when they bought any of Superdrug's own-brand sanitary towels or tampons.
Under European rules, all sanitary products in the UK currently have a 5% VAT charge added on to the price. This “tampon tax” - as it's become known - sees the Treasury rake in £15 million in VAT from sanitary products every year. The items are taxed because they are seen as a luxury rather than an essential. Oh yeah, luxury. Totally.
So, Superdrug has confirmed that it will pay back £60,000 in points to its Health & Beauty Card members this year in donations. Most women are pretty loyal when it comes to the sanitary brands they go for, so whilst many will think this is a brilliant idea, it might not be enough to make them switch to Superdrug's products just to save a few bob. Still, there are also plenty of women who will be totally on board with the fight against tampon tax who will no-doubt be popping in to Superdrug next time they pass by and need some personal supplies.
What I like most about this clever announcement by Superdrug is that it is a great way for the retailer to drive sign-ups to its reward card scheme and to increase sales of its own-brand items. The story was picked up by the likes of The Independent, Metro, Cosmopolitan, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Yahoo! and plenty of others, so Superdrug's decision to do their bit in the tampon tax battle was a good one.
Whether or not you know the first thing about football, you probably do know that right now Liverpool Football Club is facing major criticism, which has led to an influx of negative PR and scathing media coverage.
In the 77th minute of the Premiership football club's game against Sunderland last Saturday, thousands of fans staged a protest by partaking in a mass walkout at Anfield (around 25% of the home fans). Why? Well, the price list for next season has been published and ticket prices will be as much as £77 each. Although it's been highlighted that these pricey tickets will only be for 200 seats in the new stand during the six best games of the season, supporters are still really, really peeved.
Liverpool were 2-0 up when the walk-out happened and, to make the situation even more uncomfortable, Sunderland scored two goals in the 82nd and 89th minutes after the fans had piled out of Anfield. The club are now sitting 9th in the League table, which is hardly great. I'm betting that the team's morale is at an all-time low. Ex-Liverpool player and all-round sporting legend Jamie Carragher (that one's for you Andy Barr) was amongst the fans who walked out of the stadium in protest. Even the ex-Liverpool manager Roy Evans said the walk-out “was fantastic" and urged the club to listen to its supporters. #WalkOutOn77 was trending on Twitter as people took to the social network to give their two-pence worth.
There's an argument being made that fan loyalty counts for zilch in modern football. The ticket price rises will increase the club's gate receipts by £2 million, but Premier-League clubs are also about to receive a gigantic windfall thanks to a new TV deal (Sky and BT are set to pay a combined £5bn over the next 3 years to show games). Therefore, ticket prices could have been lowered and the club still wouldn't have been worse off. So, the fans are pretty tired of showing loyalty to a club that treats them like customers, rather than the dedicated supporters they are. Football is supposed to be accessible to all, but the price of tickets means that actually attending a game is a pipedream for some.
I'll be the first to admit that when I first heard about the mass-walk out at Anfield over the weekend, my initial reaction was one of - clearly uneducated - disappointment. I thought the fans were showing no loyalty to the players and felt it was a bit rude. But then I looked into why they were doing it and it all made sense. Had I been a fan (and I was for a brief period of time as a nine-year-old because I had a crush on Michael Owen *major LOLs*) I would've walked out with the rest of them on Saturday.
The protest was clever and poignant and I think fans now have the club cornered. There's little choice but for the powers that be to drop the prices and try to sort this mess out. It will probably take even more than that to win back some of the supporters though.
Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter