Happy Christmas from Selfridges! But Coca-Cola may not be in a festive mood

Good PR

There are countless journalists and PR people out there who will already be sick of Christmas, having already had to pitch or write about things for the festive season, due to the long lead times of some magazines.

There's just something weird about thinking of Christmas when it's (supposedly) summer outside. Saying that, we are already more than half way through the year and Christmas will no doubt descend upon us at the speed of light.

Department store Selfridges, never one to miss an opportunity to look awesome, decided to launch Christmas in August. I think that's a rather brave move, seeing as though most people want to gouge their own eyes out with a spoon when they start seeing Christmas trees and mince pies on sale in October. However, it seems to have been a decision that has paid off handsomely.

Selfridges opened its Christmas shop in London's Oxford Street store on Monday 3 August; a staggering 143 days before the fat guy is due to shimmy down people's chimneys. Whilst the scrooges in our midst will be shaking their heads and tutting audibly, there will be plenty of excited tourists and Londoners alike rushing to the store to check out their festive offering. I just feel sorry for whoever they've roped in to dress up in a winter suit to play Santa Claus; I just hope there is air con for him ...

Anyway, if the early opening of the Christmas shop was simply to generate a bit of a media frenzy, then it worked. The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Independent, Metro, Evening Standard, ITV and even ABC News across the pond picked up on the story, amongst others. Even if the early opening was just to attract more shoppers and cash in on those looking to start their Christmas purchases early or tourists looking for a festive souvenir for their own Christmas back home this year, it has probably worked for that purpose too.


Bad PR

Coca-Cola, the seemingly unshakeable, powerhouse of a brand, has received somewhat of a battering in the press lately and I think, this time, the knock could really start to impact sales.

A blogger named Niraj Naik, who runs The Renegade Pharmacist blog, has caused quite the stir by releasing a couple of infographics allegedly showing what effects drinking a can of Coke or a can of Diet Coke can have on the human body in one hour; and they've got people scared, for sure.

Whether or not the infographics hold up to scientific scrutiny is another matter entirely, but it seems that there is at least some truth in the claims. The first infographic, about a can of normal (as I like to call it, "full fat") Coke, looks at what happens when the ten teaspoons of sugar it packs hits someone's system and all the bad things that go on beneath the surface (one of which is the pleasure sensors that are stimulated in the brain, apparently the same way heroin works), as well as the sugar crash afterwards.

The Diet Coke infographic attempts to demonstrate how the drink has similar negative effects and that, even though people think the sugar-free version is healthier, it can still rot the teeth, make people pile on the pounds and contribute towards heart disease, strokes and diabetes. The combination of the caffeine and the aspartame (sweetener) ingredient is said to create a short addictive high, similar to the way cocaine works.

By comparing Coke and Diet Coke to drugs like heroin and cocaine, it's going to scare a lot of people off, even those who do like a nice icy can of the stuff every now and again before all of this "came to light". 

Whilst this is all very good PR for Naik and his medical blog (authority links galore), suiting its tagline “truth prescribed” down to tee, it's really bad for Coca-Cola. Even though many people have come out and questioned the accuracy of the claims made in the infographics and even if not everything is 100% true, there will have been plenty of Coke and Diet Coke fans who've been put off the sticky stuff for life.

So many publications have run the infographics and Naik's claims, so perhaps this round of damage is already done. This is just another blow for the brand after it was announced a couple of weeks ago that, although profits were up (due to price increases), overall sales were actually down.

Shannon Peerless, 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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