Good and Bad PR: What was Liam Neeson thinking?

Good PR

It will be Valentine’s Day next week and there are already a number of brands sending out stories or carrying out PR stunts to piggyback on the romantic day in the calendar.

However, a zoo in Australia did so with a bit of a difference. Wild Life Sydney Zoo has launched a competition that people can enter to name one of its residents – a brown snake – after an ex-partner.

All entrants have to do is explain why their ex was, indeed, an absolute snake; and give the name of the slithery ex-partner that broke their heart, betrayed their trust or acted like a cold-blooded, deceitful reptilian person. Entrants also have to donate $1 to the Wildlife Conservation Fund, so this is way more that an ex-partner hate-fest. It’s for the greater good of animals large and small.

Most people have at least one ex that falls into the snake category (if you don’t, congrats) so this is a stunt that has tickled a lot of people the world over, not just in Australia.

Friends will rush to tag their heartbroken pals in the comments sections of this story when it’s doing the rounds on social media, to give them a few laughs and raise their spirits, and everyone will come together to bond over their ex-snakes. Magical.

The winner, who will also get a free annual pass to the zoo, and subsequently the chosen name for the snake, will be announced on Valentine’s Day. I first saw the story on Mashable, but can already see more coverage starting to appear.

Bad PR

Liam Neeson of “I will find you and I will kill you” fame has faced major backlash after comments he made during an interview with The Independent to promote his new film Cold Pursuit.

The Taken star spoke about a time 40 years ago when he wandered the streets for a week in a blind rage, with a weapon, after his friend was raped by a black man. He said: "She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way. But my immediate reaction was... I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person. I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I'd be approached by somebody – I'm ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [uses air quotes with fingers] 'black b*stard' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him."

The film is about a man who goes in search of revenge and justice after his son gets murdered, so he told this story to apparently show what kind of “primal” rage overcomes someone when one of their loved ones is a victim of a horrific, violent crime.

However, he has now been branded a racist and, the truth of the matter is that the colour of his friend’s attacker’s skin bore no relevance in his story. He could’ve easily left that detail out, telling instead of how he set out to find someone who looked like his friend’s attacker. It would’ve probably still made headlines, but in that version, more about how a crazed Liam Neeson prowled the streets with a weapon in real life once, wanting to kill someone in vengeance.

He addressed the racism allegations during a televised interview with Good Morning America and insisted that he was not racist, but now those very accusations are at the forefront of this story and it’s made headlines absolutely everywhere. I’m sure the movie needed some extra promotion, but certainly not at this cost. The actor has probably lost a few fans and people may even now boycott the film and not go to watch it.  

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter. Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email

PRmoment Awards 2020