Cheers to Marmite, Vaseline, Air New Zealand and Google, but boos to GoDaddy and Rangers

Good PR of the Week - A fool for Fools’ Day

When I was a kid, I loved April Fools’ Day; it was one of my favourite days of the year. As an adult, I still love it (I once had my brother pretend to be a copper and call my long-suffering agency MDs to let them know that I’d been arrested and as such wouldn’t be coming into work. They agreed that it was believable, which says a lot.) – only now, I work in an industry that can influence the media into peddling my pranks to millions of victims consumers.

April Fools’ Day is a great opportunity for companies to come up with PR stunts so without further ado, in no particular order, here are my three favourite stunts from this year:

1. Vaseline Lip Therapy Marmite

Marmite, one of the brands with marketing I respect the most, partnered with skincare product specialists Vaseline to create a lip balm sure to get a reaction. The smart element of it was that it wasn’t just a standalone April Fools’ stunt – it was a well-targeted PR effort to help launch Vaseline’s new Facebook page, which was linked to by media online (such as New! magazine) – which in just six days has reached 130,000 “likes“.

2. Pay What You Weigh

Air New Zealand announced its new "Pay What You Weigh" tariff, where passengers would be charged according to how much they weighed. The constant PR shenanigans of airlines such as Ryanair almost make this believable – and something many would no doubt welcome. Air New Zealand then followed up just days later by launching their cutely-named lie-down “cuddle class” on London long-haul flights.

3. Google Autocompleter

No round-up would be complete without a mention of Google.  This company seemingly works hard to come up with April Fools’ stunts each year. My favourite of its many efforts this year was the recruitment drive by Google to employ Google Autocompleters. The company put up a job listing (and great video) to find people to pre-empt our searches and complete them for us – asking for skills such as typing at a good speed (32,000 WPM) and a certificate in psychic reading.

Thanks to Stefan Paetow at eons netmedia, Annalie Brown at Four Winds Communications (NZ) and APT Marketing for putting these forward this week.

Bad PR of the Week

GoDaddy CEO makes mammoth PR mistake

GoDaddy, the domain name registrar, has dug itself a massive PR hole after its “Vietnam vet” CEO Bob Parson was filmed shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe – and then posting it on his own blog.

The video has had more than 700,000 views at the time of writing, prompting thousands of angry comments – and also incurring the wrath of animal rights group PETA, which has publicly closed its account with GoDaddy. Competitor has also cheekily got in on the adverse publicity to promote itself by encouraging users to transfer from GoDaddy to with 20 per cent of the proceeds going to

The video states that Parsons and a group of hunters shot one of the herd of elephants for trampling a farmer’s field to scare them away. If you want to view the video, it's obviously  "in Google" but we couldn't bring ourselves to put it on the site.

Thanks to Henry McLean at Ash Gaming for sending this through.

Powerless Rangers

One second, the chairman of Rangers Football Club allegedly admits that the club could go bust – the next, a statement is issued to deny that he said any such thing. There’s one problem – journalists present at the press conference, including BBC Scotland’s Chick Young, maintain that when asked whether the club could be placed into administration, chairman Alistair Johnson nodded.

The Drum reports that the “press office for Rangers FC is continuing to contact journalists in an attempt to clarify the status of the club“, and although it is clearly doing everything it can from a PR point of view, it’s a demonstration of how even with the best handling and coaching, one wrong word – or, in this case, nod – can bring the house of cards down.

Thanks to Jamie McHale at StickyEyes for Tweeting with this one.

Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of PR Agency 10 Yetis. Contact Rich Leigh with any Good or Bad PR by emailing or by tweeting @GoodandBadPR.

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.

PRmoment Awards PRmoment Patreon