Have you missed me? I thought so, I have missed you all too. As the UK gently strolls back into the working swing of things, you will be surprised to hear that not much has changed on the news agenda. The cost of living crisis, dominated by the rising energy prices, the complete failure of Brexit and its negative effect on UK businesses (the latter being just my opinion of course) and, obviously, Boris keeping to his word about working right until the end of his stay in Downing Street, and promptly buggering off on two holidays.
It is safe to say that the UK is in the merde!
French Tax Office
That being said, and looking at our first Bad PR of the week, it could be worse, the government could also be using AI to sniff out new tax opportunities which is what the French state did quite recently.
🇫🇷 #France's tax authority said Monday that a new artificial intelligence system had found thousands of undeclared swimming pools, allowing it to collect millions of euros from homeowners who failed to report the facilities. pic.twitter.com/1J7doMPY9C— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) August 30, 2022
In France, when you improve your home, you must pay more tax. I am guessing this is like our Council Tax system. The crafty French citizens have been keeping schtum about the odd loft conversion, basement improvement and erm, swimming pool and not declared it for fear of the tax implications.
Someone in the French tax offices got wind of this though and worked with a specialist AI squad to use the technology to find instances where new swimming pools had been built. 10 million Euros of tax implications and 20,000 new pool discoveries later and the project has been deemed as a success. A small mention goes to Google and CapGemini for building the massive snitching tool.
Asda has had an unusual week and whilst it continues to get good headlines for the success of its own-brand range, it managed to get negative headlines around the acquisition of the Co-op network of fuel stations. 129 of the Co-op petrol stations have now gone to Asda for £600m.
The deal didn’t necessarily trigger a CMA investigation, but Asda says that it expects it to take a look and this is where Asda could get into some muddy water. We all know about the price of fuel sky rocketing and then coming back down and whilst the supermarkets were in no way responsible for the price increases, it looks like they and the other supermarkets could be holding together to make sure the lowering of the prices is slower than it could be. This is, of course, just my opinion.
My opinion is formed from the fact that, for the first time since I can remember, many of the far smaller independent petrol stations have lower prices than the retail giants. I think we need one of the supermarkets to break ranks and bring its fuel prices down so that the others will follow suit. Failure to do this could mean that the CMA will declare shenanigans across the board and start a wider investigation.
All this talk of potential spats brings me nicely on to the BBC. Gary Lineker, best known to many as the great seller of potatoes and the presenter of the Beeb’s most popular TV show (he also used to play football, for all you digital PR types) got into a spat with a fellow Beeb’r who works on the news team.
As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) August 22, 2022
As is the way nowadays, it was all over some Tweets. Lineker quite rightly berated the Government over sewage being pumped into the sea and the news presenter questioned him dabbling in politics given the BBC’s strict rules on impartiality.
Lineker was right, but the news guy was right to reference it, although he maybe should have done it behind closed doors. What struck me though was the power of the BBC machine in that the news guy had to delete his critical tweets and even apologise. What kind of power does the BBC have if it can force one of the most respected news people of our generation into such a publicly humiliating climb down?
I think a more common-sense approach to social media policing should be investigated by the W1A brigade to avoid situations like this happening again.
Let’s end on two nice spoonfuls of positive PR from this week. First up, nice and straight forward, Skoda revealed the eighth reiteration of its logo and moved away from a symbol and instead shifted over to just the words “Skoda”.
The new branding looks ace and I really think that in years to come, brand historians will wax lyrical about how the company turned around its reputation from where it was in the 80s to where it has moved to now.
A funny tale about Skoda. In 2009, it sent us a very formal legal letter demanding we stop using the word “Yeti” in our branding. I wish I had kept it and had not instead written over it in red crayon “we launched in 2005, you launched the Skoda Yeti in 2009”. I never heard back.
Finally, the only positive PR that jellyfish ever get is that they enable people to legitimately urinate on their friends. That is not the case anymore though.
Researchers from the University of Oviedo (I don’t know either) have unlocked jellyfish genomes and isolated which parts of it stops aging and helps it regenerate itself. Prepare for jellyfish moisturisers to hit the beauty and pharmacy shelves very soon.
I did once eat jellyfish in China (deliberately, I was not swimming in the sea) which could well explain my own dashing and youthful looks.
See you next week you darling PR people. 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
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