PRmoment Leaders PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRCA PRmoment Awards Winners North Creative Moment Awards 2024 PR Masterclass: AI in PR

Good and Bad PR: #Spitgate hits the headlines

Good PR  

Virgin avocado promotion
If you tried and failed to bag yourself one of the new 26-30 millennial railcards this week, but were unsuccessful thanks to the rather stingy 10,000 limit, I have some good news for you.

It’s not that more are being made available (that I know of yet, although I suspect this will happen) but Virgin Trains has done something a bit tongue-in-cheek that got a lot of people smiling.

The  #Avocard campaign was launched so that anyone aged 26-30 could still get a discount on their rail fares for any Virgin Train journey on the West Coast costing more than £12 starting between 4:30am and 10am on Monday to Friday (excluding advance fares). If passengers met the original criteria for the 26-30 railcard, they just had to present an avocado at the ticket office along with photo ID.

Avocados have long been synonymous with millennials, so this is a really hilarious little campaign that has generated lots of positive media coverage for Virgin Trains; including the Metro, Independent, The Drum, Evening Standard and more.

The offer is only running until 20 March unfortunately, but that’s plenty of time for all the positive coverage to roll in.  

Bad PR  

Footballer Jamie Carragher had a tough lesson in crisis comms this week… and it was all his own doing. You’ve all probably seen the news already, but just in case you didn’t here’s the low down of what happened.

After leaving Old Trafford football ground on Saturday where Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1, following his regular gig as a Sky Sports football pundit, Carragher was involved in an altercation with a man who was driving alongside him.

The driver, a Man U fan, was trying to get the ex-Liverpool player’s attention through the open window of his car and was filming the whole thing from behind the wheel (irresponsible) with his 14-year-old daughter in the passenger seat next to him. When Carragher opened his own window, the man was shouting things over like “2-1 mate! Unlucky Jamie Lad”.

What Jamie Carragher did next was downright disgusting; he spat towards the car that the man was sat in with his daughter, hitting the young girl in the face with his saliva. Whether he intended to or not doesn’t really matter (he’s since claimed he didn’t see the man’s daughter); the damage is already done and the news spread like wildfire once the father shared the video footage with the media.

This is a big blow to Carragher’s reputation and a lot of people have lost a lot of respect for him. All that said, he’s dealt with the aftermath very well from a crisis comms point-of-view. He didn’t shy away from accepting televised interviews and didn’t hesitate in apologising. Clearly, whoever is advising the pundit is very good at what they do.

Still, no one’s going to forget #spitgate in a hurry, so Carragher will struggle to earn some of his lost respect back. Sky Sports have also suspended him from all pundit duties until the end of the season, after which they will decide if he’s fit to return to his role. I don’t think this will be career-ending for Carragher by any means, but I think it will affect how people treat him for a long time.

Also, in case you (like me) were wondering, the driver of the spat-at vehicle has been let off the hook by police for using his phone behind the wheel and simply received a warning. I can’t quite believe that to be honest, even if the car was stationary in traffic as he claimed. If there was ever a chance for police to highlight the consequences of using a phone behind the wheel, this would have been a very public way to do it.

United Airlines animal cruelty
In other news, United Airlines is at it AGAIN. After a shocker of a year in 2017 and loads of bad press, you’d think staff would be going over and above to ensure no bad decisions were made to reduce the chances of attracting even more negative media attention. Now though, a puppy has died on one of the airline’s flights after a member of cabin crew told the young family who owned the dog that they would have to put him in the overhead locker instead of under the seat in front of them in his carrier. When they landed in New York from Houston in Texas, the 10 –month-old French bulldog named Kokito had died, presumably from lack of oxygen in the locker and breathing difficulties associated with the breed, despite letting out warning yelps and cries throughout the flight that were apparently ignored by the cabin crew. The coverage of this devastating story has been pretty damning for the airline.

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

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: