As the media and retailers march relentlessly towards Christmas it did remind me of a time when I worked in-house for a global FMCG. We had an under-the-table agreement with our competitors that the Christmas marketing klaxon would not be sounded until after Remembrance Sunday.
No such niceties nowadays and the sneaky retailers are even using the cost-of-living crisis to get people to spend earlier, under the guise of spreading the cost. There is no mention in the media that it is, ironically, one of the consistently most expensive supermarkets that are leading with this idea.
Sigh. Let’s plough on through the wins and losses in the PR world from the last seven days.
The King’s Speech wins the recently launched “indifferent” PR of the week. The reality is that the King has very little to do with the contents of his speech, so he can be forgiven. Rishi and his Government copped the majority of the slack for packing it with a number of sweeteners on the run up to the election.
I think it may be a little too late to save Rishi at the polls, but it will be interesting to see what develops and what last-minute offers are made to us muggles to try and get us to vote Conservative.
As an aside, I shall maybe do a separate Bad and Worse column about the COVID enquiry once everyone has finished giving their evidence. So far though, it has provided quite the insight into the Government communication process.
Spads are not coming out of it very well, shock horror, compared to the Civil Service and scientific advisors. I suspect another overhaul will be mooted.
Moving to the traditional world of Bad PR, Boohoo got nailed by the BBC this week for breaking its promises around ethically producing its clobber. The crisis communications messaging work of the team left a lot to be desired but then, was anyone really surprised that another fast-fashion brand was caught doing something it shouldn’t and then poorly communicating about it?
Undercover filming at one of Boohoo's supplier factories revealed staff being told they needed to work late into the night with just hours' notice to get orders completed— BBC Panorama (@BBCPanorama) November 6, 2023
The factory said it never forces workers to stay late
Also, muggles must take some of the blame for this. Brands like Shein, Boohoo and MissGuided are repeatedly nailed for shoddy practices, but we carry on buying from them because we are a sucker for a cheap deal.
Coca-cola, Danone, Nestle
Three other big brands got hauled over the coals of public opinion this week for potentially over exaggerating their green credentials. Coca-Cola, Danone and Nestle were all accused of making misleading claims about their bottles being 100% recycled.
A consumer body snitched the brands up to the European Commission over the claim and threw in a few mentions of the ever-topical greenwashing. Obviously, all the brands were shocked to hear of such allegations and in the kinds of crisis communications that Boohoo should take a leaf from, swiftly tried to bat away all the claims made.
The big media outlets and trade press all ran the story, but I think some of the more commercially hungry media avoided the story, with one eye on the advertising spend risk. After all, holidays are coming!
Let’s end on a few nicer stories. First up, Rishi clearly met one of his heroes this week when he sat down with Elon Musk after attending his own AI Summit for a public chat.
I really feel like we saw a rare insight into the real Rishi. He was clearly gripped and interested in everything Musk had to say. His guard dropped a bit and I even spotted a bit of a giggle as Musk chatted away.
A giggle, in fact any kind of actual human emotion, appears to be very frowned upon by the Spads in charge of our senior politicians so I think this was a real-life reaction to him meeting someone he is genuinely interested in.
Marks and Spencer
M&S gave the high-street a boost this week with the announcement that it was posting better than expected profit figures. Whilst we are used to the food element of M&S outperforming the rest of its business, the clothes division brought home the bacon too. It is a hell of a turnaround for the retail giant after nearly circling the shopping plughole (being bought by Mike Ashley) a few years ago.
Shares in Marks & Spencer are up more than 10 per cent today after the retailer said it would pay a dividend to investors for the first time in four years. (🧵) pic.twitter.com/Dbbyt5vyv6— Business Leader (@businessleader) November 8, 2023
Fiona the ewe
Finally, lets end on a story I love and really made me smile. Thanks to everyone who sent it over, Alan Morrison being the first.
Fiona the ewe was named as Britain’s Loneliest Sheep after getting itself stuck on some land at the bottom of some cliffs in Scotland. An animal welfare charity said that rescuing it would be a complex operation and the farmer who owned Fiona started getting grief from the animal-bothering brigade for not doing more to help it.
Step forward sheep-shearing farmer Cammy Wilson who pulled together an elite sheep rescuing posse who wanted to help the farmer out. They rescued the overweight ewe and took it off to get sheared and cared for.
Before we all shout hoorah though, fear not, the animal botherers stepped in again to try and bring us all down. A group called “Animal Rising” were not happy that Fiona was taken to a (closed for the season) visitor attraction to be sheared and rehabilitated back into sheep society.
They were worried she would get overwhelmed after spending so much time on her own. They were so worried that they organised a silent and non-disruptive protest outside Fiona’s new home. The pictures of the motely protest group are exactly as you would imagine. Lots of home-made t-shirts and I would bet they collectively carry a strong whiff of stale biscuits.
No, I am not joking people, these kinds of folk walk amongst us. Fiona has now had to be taken to a secret location to continue her recovery. If it was up to me, that secret location would be my oven!
Come at me protest groups… me and my two cats are ready for ya.
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.
Thanks to Meltwater, Good and Bad PR's data and insights supplier.
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