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Good and Bad PR: Cummings has to win the (booby) prize for terrible PR this week

Welcome to week 10 of working from home! You’ve made it this far and we salute you.

If, like me, you’re now an expert at swiftly removing the cat (or child) from atop your laptop keyboard when s/he decides to join your Zoom call without an invite and, speaking of Zoom, you’ve done one too many conference calls with a posh top above and PJ bottoms below, you’re officially in the club.

An incident involving a certain Mr Cummings came to light this week, so if you weren’t quite ready for us to start bringing some bad PR examples into the mix, you can blame him… or Jimmy Fallon! We’ll start with the good PR examples to ease you back in gently…

Good PR

Gucci goes seasonless

Gucci has decided to make the unconventional move to a seasonless fashion line, after deciding that clothes need a longer life.

Part of me thinks this is just a genius and off-the-cuff PR move in light of the impact the Covid-19 crisis has had on the retail (and, in particular, fashion) industry, but whatever the reason, the news has of course received widespread media attention; everywhere from the BBC and Vogue to CNN and beyond.

Creative director Alessandro Michele announced the move in a thought-provoking Instagram post he’d titled ‘Notes from the silence’, which was a series of diary entries reflecting on lockdown and what it had taught him and awakened within.

He wrote “Therefore, I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story.” It is beautifully written, yet just as pretentious as you’d imagine.

Shows will become two per year, instead of the current five, and it’s unlikely you’ll see ‘pre-fall’, ‘spring-summer’ or ‘fall-winter’ on the collection’s labels any longer, or their presence at certain Fashion Weeks. With the media spotlight so often on fast fashion and waste within the industry, even luxury, designer brands have a role to play in solving some of the issues in the market.

Gucci is the first to drop out of the traditional fashion calendar to move towards a less wasteful range that has more staying power; because, as we all know, we tend to sack off trends long before the clothes themselves have even worn out. I like what it has done and think other high fashion brands will now follow suit.

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Japan to attract tourists generously

Tourism across the world has obviously halted as a result of the global lockdown, which has caused a huge impact on the economies of many countries that rely so heavily on visitors from overseas.

Japan, which was all set to host the 2020 Olympics this year, will feel that hit more than most, especially after seeing the boost from the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and expecting another smashing year. So, the Japan Tourism Agency has decided to provide a rather generous incentive for potential visitors once normal life resumes. Plans were announced to allocate £10.2billion to a reimbursement programme for tourism, which would subsidise a portion of travellers’ expenses.

A series of tweets by the Japan Tourism Agency aimed to clear up some confusion after everyone got a bit excited and reports were flying here, there and everywhere about the possibility of having half their international flight costs covered:

Still, if this goes ahead (pending government approval), it will definitely be welcomed by tourists looking to head to Japan. Sicily announced similar plans at the start of May, with €75million of regional government money there put aside to entice visitors back through initiatives like a free night’s stay for every three nights visited, cultural and heritage activity vouchers and, possibly, contributions toward flights.

Bad PR

Dominic’s downfall

I’ll get this over and done with quickly, as I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about it by now, but bad PR this week goes to Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s most senior advisor, who drove over 200 miles from London to Durham with his wife and child during the height of the ‘Stay Home’ lockdown phase and has received a colossal backlash for doing so.

He was journeying to his family farm where his parents lived and his wife was ill at the time allegedly with suspected coronavirus (he became ill soon after, as did his child) and he said that he had made the journey so he would have back-up care for his four-year-old son if he and his wife became too poorly. They apparently stayed in a separate property whilst there, but people are outraged that he did not follow the advice and rules enforced on millions of others. He later allegedly drove 30 miles from Durham to test if his ‘eyesight was good enough to drive back home’ (weird excuse – it was actually his wife’s birthday and they were at Barnard Castle next to the River Tees) and reportedly went back to Durham even after he’d returned home when he was well again.

There were calls for him to step down (by more than 35 Tory MPs no less!) and people have absolutely gone to town on him; except Boris, who said he had simply “followed the instincts of every father.” Whether or not he broke the rules or just interpreted them differently has been a hot topic of debate this week, but his position as the prime minister’s top advisor remains.

Fallon’s fail

Jimmy Fallon issued an apology this week after a clip of Saturday Night Live resurfaced from 2000 in which he impersonated Chris Rock whilst wearing blackface. The NBC Tonight Show host said there was “no excuse” and thanked people for holding him “accountable”.

The scale of the backlash is quite rightfully huge and there have been calls for him to step down as host of the Tonight Show. The show’s network, NBC, actually sacked a news anchor named Megyn Kelly in 2018 after she made comments defending the use of blackface, so it remains to be seen what consequences Fallon will face.

Written by Shannon Peerless, managing director of 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

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