Barbie gets the good PR of the week award but it’s a #fail for TripAdvisor

Forget cyclones and the transfer window, what happened in PR this week?

Good PR of the Week

Life in plastic, it’s fantastic

To celebrate his 50th birthday, Mattel has kicked off a PR corker. Since his split from Barbie on Valentine’s Day in 2004, Ken Carson has had to stand by and watch Barbie get it together with another scarily smooth-groined hunk of plastic – Australian surferboy Blaine.

Ken isn’t prepared to play second fiddle any longer however, and in a bid to rekindle the romance between him and 51-year-old Barbie, he has asked her to give things one last try. Following an alleged rekindling of feelings while filming Toy Story 3, he’s been flirting with her on Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter, taken out billboard ads in New York and LA and even launched a site asking for the public’s opinion as to whether or not they should hook up again.

This is a great example of a fun PR campaign, and has already resulted in huge coverage both here and in the States. The back story and on message use of social media (how wanky do I sound?) is a credit to the industry. Thanks to Louise Ashford at Lansons for emailing about this campaign!

And another...

As it’s hard to pick from the brilliant efforts you all sent over, I thought I’d also mention another great, but much simpler effort – emailed to me by Stephen Davies at 3WPR –where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took the stage on Saturday Night Live with Jesse Eisenberg (who played him in The Social Network). The media has speculated as to what Zuckerberg’s reaction to the not-entirely-positive movie was, and this shows that he’s not such a bad sport, after all:

Bad PR of the Week

Bannatyne fired up over “cowardly” TripAdvisor

Travel review website TripAdvisor “did fantastically well aligning itself with the news that the Government is considering scrapping the traditional star rating system for hotels“, says Mark Cox, corporate communications manager at Thomson Local.

What it didn’t do particularly well, he and many others to email in claim, is do anything to deflect the media shit-storm that has surrounded them in the last week.

Online reputation management company Kwikchex sparked it all by estimating that there are “at least 27,000 legally defamatory comments on TripAdvisor“, accusing the site – which gets 40 million hits per month – of hosting “thousands of fake, dishonest or defamatory hotel and restaurant reviews.”

TripAdvisor didn’t respond brilliantly. Especially when Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne waded in, saying he was thinking about suing the site over a “dishonest” posting left by an unhappy guest, comparing a hotel of his to Fawlty Towers. Bannatyne, who has more than 260,000 followers on Twitter, claims that in response to publicly airing his concerns, TripAdvisor “removed positive reviews for one of his four hotels after he went public with his criticisms“. True or not, the site – which has admittedly always allowed hoteliers to post a management response to any review – is in a PR hole.

How would you deal with the PR issues facing TripAdvisor? Is Bannatyne throwing his toys out his pram? Would you still use TripAdvisor if its content was regulated? Let us know below.

Thanks this week go to Louise Ashford, Stephen Davies and Mark Cox at Thomson Local. If you have any examples of either to put up for this column, please tweet me @GoodandBadPR or email me.

Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of PR Agency 10 Yetis.

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