Touching PR from Durex, but Virgin Media should never speak ill to the dead

Good PR of the week

Durex touches the spot

Durex – and any other companies that work in the less-smutty, now consumer-friendly end of the sex market – is already at a great advantage when it comes to PR. Sex is still taboo enough to make coming up with shareable campaign ideas easier than, say, a financial services client and this week, a creative idea from Durex hits the spot.

Durex “Fundawear” is underwear giving users the ability to touch each other over the internet. Boxers for men and bras and knickers for women have been fitted with mini-vibrators, which can be controlled using a Smartphone app sending signals to vibrate.

This safe-for-work video demonstrates the idea:

It’ll likely never be a real, buyable product (I certainly haven’t seen anything that proves otherwise, but then, I could be being blind), but it’s a good way to get people talking about a brand that has to maintain its status as market leader.

Credit to Twelve Thirty Eight’s Inderdeep Gill for spotting this.

Chocolate-flavoured PR

Press releases haven’t changed much since the advent of email, despite the impotent and now largely redundant “social media press release” concept launched a few years ago. I’m too young to remember posting releases by hand, but for many of us, our releases are sent individually, mail merged or, by some, sent by BCCing the intended recipients in.

Given little has changed in the last 10-plus years, it was nice to see an example of a slightly different press-release delivery method to promote the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical, by The Corner Shop PR, leading to it being tweeted by a couple of impressed journalists, letting us all know about the musical too. I had no idea one was on the cards, but it’s being directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes, don’t you know.

The launch press release was sent to journalists on a USB stick shaped like a bar of Wonka branded chocolate, as Instragrammed by Rosamund Dean, the entertainment editor at Red magazine:

Natasha Pearlman, deputy editor of Elle also tweeted a photo, to say “Love that the (e)press release for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory arrived in this … Now I’m hungry”.

Whether it helps the coverage of the show among the journalists it was sent to is something we won’t know, but it’s good to see new ways to grab attention.

Bad PR of the week

Virgin Media in grave trouble

Virgin Media copped a fair bit of stick this week when it turned out the service had fined a man £10 for being dead.

This image was posted on Facebook by a man called Jim Boyden on Monday, and has since been written up by the New Statesman, and shared by Facebook users more than 53,000 times at the time of writing, not even considering the number of times it was shared by users of other social networks. As you can see, the direct debit was denied and a £10 late payment charge was levied, despite the fact it clearly acknowledges the customer’s death.


Here’s the message Jim wrote to accompany the image:

"Dear Virgin Media,

I'm really sorry for my Father in Law not paying his bill last month, but what with him being dead and all, it's probably slipped his mind. Some people, eh?

You, however, are to be publicly commended for swooping in with all the sensitivity of a charging rhino and instantly fining him an extra ten pounds for having the unheard of nerve to be dead and therefore being unable to pay you (some people really have no idea of priorities do they? It's your profit first, THEN anything else. The cheek!).

You also win extra points for noticing his bank had returned his Direct Debit informing you he had passed away, THEN still slapping on a fine anyway. That's a special kind of meanness right there. Oh, and despite my wife telling you our sad news as well. I am intrigued – how exactly did you imagine him paying this extra fine from beyond the grave?

You also deserve a further honourable mention for promptly sending us next month’s bill as well. I'm simply not paying it, as ever since passing away, I have noticed a sharp decrease in the amount of television my Father in Law has been watching. I simply cannot think why that would be.

I might pay it if you can prove to me he's been watching any of your channels in heaven, but given that British Sky Broadcasting is beamed in directly from the clouds I think he's much more likely to be enjoying that. Your infernal cable pipes seem only to come up from the ground (same location as Hell – spooky coincidence) where I imagine your train people in the art of customer service.

I am bitterly disappointed in your attitude, probably automatically generated by machine and unchecked by any caring human heart. The only saving grace is that my Father in Law had an excellent sense of humour and is probably laughing his arse off about this as we type, giving you the Vs, waving ten pound notes around, planning to haunt you and enjoying the content of Sky TV."


Thanks to digital media exec Christopher Baker and EML Wildfire’s Darren Willsher for tweeting me with this example.

Have you seen any good or bad PR?

Contact PR Rich Leigh with it by tweeting him @GoodandBadPR or by emailing throughout the week and he’ll happily credit you for your trouble.

Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency.