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High five to Air Canada for its Christmas stunt

11th December 2014


Good PR

Flying home for Christmas

Airline Christmas PR stunts seem to be as anticipated these days as the John Lewis advert over the festive period, so I was pleased to see Air Canada having a go at spreading some Christmas cheer this year.

It hasn’t been plane sailing (see what I did there?) for the airline in 2014, following the cockpit porn discoveries and the backlash to checked baggage fees that were introduced, but this latest PR move has made all of that fade into the background.

In a similar video-based stunt to WestJet’s Christmas Miracle last year, where the airline played Santa and surprised passengers with gifts they’d asked for on the baggage carousel, Air Canada gave some unsuspecting Canadians something to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Maple Leaf pub in London is a place where many Canadian expats living in the capital go to meet, drink and socialise. Two men dressed as airline pilots entered the busy bar and rang the last orders bell to get everyone’s attention; after which they announced they’d like to buy the bar a round. Queue the cheers and applause. Who doesn’t love a free drink?

Only, that wasn’t the kind of round the “pilots” had meant. They went on to explain that they wanted to get everyone in the pub “round trip tickets to go back to Canada for the holiday season”. In the video, you can see the shocked and delighted reactions of the people in the pub; many of whom didn’t expect to be able to go home for Christmas (shown earlier in the video).

The video ends with the message “Every year Air Canada sends thousands of Canadians home for the holidays ... This year we wanted to bring a few more.” N’awwwwwww.

Feel Christmassy yet? Watch the video and you just might ...

Bad PR

Pub brawl over pints

Public spats between companies are never a good look for any businesses, so a recent tiff between JD Wetherspoon and Heineken has picked up some undoubtedly unwanted media attention.

The pub chain is now refusing to serve the brewer’s products in any of its establishments in the UK and Ireland (there’s 926 of them in total).

Heineken refused to supply its lager and Murphy’s stout to the new Wetherspoon pub in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, and demanded a personal guarantee from John Hutson, the Wetherspoon’s CEO, in order to supply any of its other products to the Irish pub. The guarantee would have made him liable for any debt the pub group had with the brewer. Pub owners offer guarantees to drinks suppliers on a regular basis in Ireland.

The relationship between the brewer and the pub chain is said to be worth £60m a year, so this will hit both parties hard. The firm does plan to replace the lost supplies with other brands of beer and cider (as Foster’s, Kronenbourg and Strongbow cider supply will be affected) but it’s not going to be a popular move with Wetherspoon regulars who favour Heineken’s beverages.

The chairman of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, said Heineken had never requested a personal guarantee in the 35 year relationship and that it was “obstructive to do so now”, especially following record profits of around £80 million.

The Dún Laoghaire Wetherspoon is set to open next week as the second venue of the pub chain in Ireland, where it plans to eventually open 30 pubs. An earlier row between Diageo, the owner of Guinness, and Wetherspoon meant the first of the pub’s venues in Ireland, The Three Tun Tavern, had to open without being able to serve the iconic Irish pint.

Oh dear JD Wetherspoon. The pub chain seems to be making a habit of making enemies of late.

Shannon Haigh, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter

Seen any good or bad PR recently, you know what to do, @10Yetis on Twitter or andy@10yetis.co.uk on email.



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