A farmer goes all Harry Potter to win Good PR while Murdoch threatens a monopoly on #Bad PR
This week’s top PR awards go to a farmer who carved Harry Potter portraits into maize fields. News International continues to dominate the headlines when it comes to bad PR, but that didn’t stop Rich Leigh spotting British Gas’s attempt to bury bad news.
If you’re fed up with reading about News International, feast your eyes on these admirable PR efforts from a maize farmer and some great publicity for Marmite.
Much like last week, this week’s media agenda has been all about a certain Australian’s media empire. Besides a photo of said sagging Australian in a sports jacket Jimmy Saville wouldn’t be seen dead in, and a pair of thigh-revealing shorts reported to have caused a number of involuntary vomiting incidents, I’ve seen little else.
Rupert Murdoch - after a game of badminton?
Good PR of the week
As always, it’s my job to delve into the depths of the media (quick Google search and shout out on Twitter) to bring to you some of the best PR efforts I could find this week.
One of my favourite comes courtesy of yet another farmer (you may remember the Tour de France stunt mentioned in my last column), who has capitalised on the final Harry Potter movie premiere and cut two huge portraits of Harry Potter into his crop of maize plants in York. His maize maze is one of the largest in the world – a quick look at the house in the top of the picture shows just how colossal his effort is – and this promotional effort is no doubt to attract people to it.
One of my favourite aspects of the story is that it’s being promoted by the likes of Fox News, the BBC and the Telegraph as the world’s “largest spot the difference” – a fact I’d find more impressive if there wasn’t a niggling doubt in my mind that he cocked up halfway through and decided the best way would be to pass it off as being on purpose. Perhaps that’s just my PR mind working overtime though.
Another is, courtesy of, yet again (and I swear I’m not on its payroll, despite having mentioned it a couple of times in this column before) – Marmite. In short, a couple had a Marmite-themed wedding, because the couple bonded “over a cheese-and-Marmite sandwich at university in 2003“. Whether or not the bods at Marmite convinced the couple to go ahead with it is unknown (it wouldn’t be the first time a brand had somebody do something shocking to promote it), but the fact that your average couple is unlikely to have the media contacts to get this to the right journos, suggests the company probably had something to do with placing this. Either way, accidental publicity or not, it shows how strong the love for the brand is.
Bad PR of the week
Did you hear about the huge British Gas price hikes? No? Maybe that’s because it has stuck to Bad News 101 and released the news at the same time it knew that News International would be dominating the headlines, with former PM Gordon Brown alleging that The Sun accessed his son’s medical records.
Well, if you didn’t see it, British Gas is planning to raise domestic gas tariffs by 18 per cent (and electricity by 16 per cent) this August – an annual price hike of nearly £200 for the average family, apparently. Nobody likes price hikes, but that, coupled with the fact it looks like it tried going behind the backs of the public is probably the reason Confused.com is reporting a 2000 per cent jump in visits.
The act of burying bad news isn’t a new idea – and I’m always a tiny bit impressed when companies pull it off (I’m not saying British Gas has, as otherwise Confused.com wouldn’t be reporting a jump in visits and I wouldn’t be writing this) – but when the other companies in the “big six” follow suit and announce rises, if the media agenda is less Murdoch/Brooks focused, I’d put money on the fact that the public reaction will be much worse.
Thanks to movie publicist Cahir McDaid and also Darren Willshere at EML Wildfire for Tweeting with bad PR this week.
Have you seen any Good or Bad PR?
Contact PR Rich Leigh with it by Tweeting him @GoodandBadPR or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.
Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency.
If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.
Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.