The world’s biggest lightsaber from BT wins this weeks good PR, while X Factor and Tesco fail to shine

Good PR of the week

World’s biggest lightsaber (as if it was a competition?)

What can I say about the Star Wars/BT Tower stunt by Premier PR that hasn’t already been said? I’d bet my kids on the fact that you’ve heard of it and the only reason I was thinking of not including it was because it happened last Thursday, a day earlier than I’d normally consider news.

If the archive of this column is ever used in some way as a subjective history of what constituted good (and bad) PR efforts – I’ve had some people say the “good” inclusions have been used to aid with client campaign/angle meetings – I’d feel like I’d missed something huge by not including it.

So, to state it in a sentence: on Thursday 15 September, London’s BT Tower was turned into the world’s largest lightsaber, in a party to promote the launch of the Blu-ray versions of Star Wars: The Complete Saga and the individual trilogy box sets.

The coverage the effort achieved and the buzz it created is sure to be award-winning – I’d be interested to know what sort of budget the agency was working to though!

Riots cost JD Sports £700k

Although the riots feel like ages ago, for one company that was at the heart of the needless pillaging, the cost has been counted and recently reported.

JD Sports, in an around-about way, has managed to do two things successfully by releasing the £700,000 damages and lost-clobber figure as a result of the riots. First, it has understood that the majority of right-thinking people believe that the rioters were little more than cretins without a cause, managing to place its brand at the centre of this obvious injustice and implying that it is a victim, despite the fact other national businesses were badly affected. You can’t help but feel for a brand that has been on the end of such treatment.

Second, there is a subtle implication that the reason the brand was so badly hit is because there is, as Ade Bradley said to me on Twitter, “clearly demand for it on the high street“. I’m sure that JD Sports would have preferred not to make such a statement at all, but I really like the way it is making the best of a bad situation.

Bad PR of the week

X-Factor treatment condemned

Every year, the X Factor stumbles from headline to headline, some positive, some negative, in its inevitable dance towards Christmas-time ubiquity. For every “Wow, this teenager is the next (insert the name of last year’s Next Big Thing)” story, there is the balancing “X-Factor contestant in prostitute shame” sort of scandal the poor PR team has to deal with.

Well, this year, the show’s treatment of a “humiliated widow” who was slotted in the coveted climactic last-auditionee slot of each episode, seems to have rubbed people up the wrong way. The audition by Ceri Rees, who arrived on stage with flowers for Louis, marked her fourth X-Factor attempt.

Many of the nationals led with the story – but not in a good way. Journalists bemoaned the show’s treatment of Rees, with the vocal coach she mentioned on the programme – a close friend, apparently – going public to state that the X-Factor producers had pursued the three-times rejected 54 year old to ask her to return to audition again, offering to pay for a hotel and train tickets. The vocal coach’s damning point of view can be Creative Moment Awards 2020