Good & Bad PR 5 minute read
Public relations fans of the world, unite, for it is time once again for my Good and Bad PR of the week. I am neither intelligent nor deep enough to add any valuable commentary on the main topic of the week, ie, WW3 looming ahead, so forgive me, whilst I just ignore that story. Let’s just agree that all of the politicians, from every side, are probably to blame.
If actual war is your thing (you wrong-un) then maybe stick to the mainstream news whilst I report in on a metaphorical war between adland and the business world courtesy of the QR code Superbowl advert. I have never had so many people message me about one story, but thanks to Adam Driver and Sam Walker for being two of the first.
So, cryptocurrency company Coinbase took out a one-minute ad spot during the Superbowl that was just a QR code pinging, slowly, around the screen. The world took note, the muggles took to social media to lay praise and Coinbase lapped up the applause. The CEO of Coinbase then took to Twitter to claim the idea was its own and that no ad agency would ever suggest an advert like that (I paraphrase).
The Martin Agency put down its collective glass of dry martini and wrote a response citing its pitch deck where it presented the idea to Coinbase. mic drop, exit stage right, “fuck you Coinbase”.
Coinbase pushed back; the CEO of The Martin Agency said she was defending the honour of the ad agency industry; the digital PR sector took a brief moment away from creating spreadshits and bickering with each other, and then everything calmed down and everyone got back to it.
Although not ideal PR for Coinbase, this story will have widened its reach whilst also making QR code creators very happy indeed.
Sticking to the theme of Bad PR, the metaverse, as a whole, received a BBC hatchet job, quite rightly, this week around kids being exposed to the seedier side of the virtual reality world. The leading brand in this sector is Oculus, owned by Facebook, which recently rebranded itself as Meta. Whilst Oculus is not creating the seedy games, it is allowing them, accidentally, onto the platform and as such its name got dragged into the story.
The reason for the rebrand, according to the FaceMetaBook comms team, is that the metaverse is the future and the new name reflects this, but everyone knows the rumour that it was triggered by the sheer volume of negative coverage associated with Facebook as a brand. I imagine that the Meta PR and SEO teams will therefore have been delighted that the BBC article carried the word metaverse in the title and has spent all week floating around Google for the name “Meta”. Anyone got any suggestions for the next rebrand?
Welsh Government, Pura and NappiCycle
My first Good PR of the week is also Shit PR, literally. The Welsh Government, baby care brand Pura and nappy recycling company NappiCycle all got together to create the dream PR campaign. I won’t bore you with the technical details, largely because I don’t understand them, but a 1.4 mile stretch of road in Wales has been repaved using recycled disposable nappies.
Lots of images of people in high-vis outfits accompanied the story, many supportive quotes were issued and it’s safe to say that this stretch of road should probably be avoided until the smell dies down. I jest, there is no smell. The story is starting to travel around the globe and never have road makers had such positive publicity since that time when tonnes of Mills and Boon books were used, in a similar fashion, to repave parts of Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham. Love it and great work all round.
Back to bad
Back to the bashing and I, like many others, were really surprised to see Innocent Drinks getting a take down this week courtesy of accusations of greenwashing in its ads. The Bad PR came via the Plastics Rebellion spearheading a kind of super-complaint to the ASA about Innocent’s recent advertisements that implied that buying an Innocent product would actually help save the environment.
To us in the PR community and any sensible human being, it is clearly obvious that the advert was making no such claim, but the muggles, the great outraged of the UK and most importantly, the ASA, didn’t agree and it became a headline-grabbing story. The other interesting factor in all of this was just how many of the Great British public didn’t realise that Coca-Cola actually owned Innocent Drinks and this seemed to spearhead another wave of hysteria around the fact that Coke is ranked as the world’s worst plastic polluter by pressure group Break Free From Plastic.
Toys ’R’ Us
Let’s try and end on a high. Toys ’R’ Us is reopening its doors on the UK retail scene. Four years after going kaput, the surviving Oz division of the giraffe-toting kids brand has announced that it is relaunching over here.
Parents, like myself, who shopped in Toys ’R’ Us, will be a nervous to hear that some of its former senior staff have been rehired, alongside a big name from, erm, Debenhams (I would have maybe advised it to have not led with this element of the story) but, I have complete faith that lessons will have been learned and the new improved toy store will go on to do well.
Great work Toys ’R’ Us and I cannot wait to take my kids there to have a look around.
Got it right or wrong, you know what to do.
Written by Andy Barr, owner of 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? Abuse and contradictory points welcomed over on The Twitter @10Yetis or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email
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.