PRmoment Leaders PRCA PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRmoment Awards Winners North

GoodandBadPR: Cool Ben & Jerry’s stunt

Good PR

The delicious ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's has received loads of media coverage for its annual tradition of Free Cone Day, which took place on Tuesday 12 April. There are some things which pretty much PR themselves, and this giveaway is definitely one of them. Not to discredit the hard work of the PR team, of course, but who could possibly say no to free ice cream?

All people had to do to get their free ice cream is head to a Ben & Jerry's store or outlet and ask for it. The catch? There wasn't one! The giveaway took place between 12pm and 8pm on Tuesday and is part of a company tradition, which Ben & Jerry's has been running since 1979, one year after the company started as a way of thanking customers for their business.

By 1993, all the Ben & Jerry's shops in the USA handed out free ice cream on Free Cone Day and it all "went viral" in the year 2000. On Tuesday, people were able to use the Ben & Jerry's website to locate their nearest store and check if that branch would be participating in Free Cone Day. As you can imagine, the queues were as large as people's dedication to claiming their free ice cream.

The Mirror, Independent, Metro, Fox News, Telegraph and plenty of others covered Free Cone Day. As I write this, it is Free Cone Day and I have just left London. I didn't realise until it was too late that it was Free Cone Day. There are no Ben & Jerry's counters or stores near to Gloucester (where I'll be when this train stops) so I will get no free ice cream on Free Cone Day *sobs*. Ben & Jerry's, if you're out there, reading this, Phish Food is my absolute favourite.

Bad PR has annoyed a fair few people with its latest billboard advertising campaign. The dating website opted to make "imperfections" the main focus of its latest campaign on the London Underground; and one of the adverts (which launched on Monday) features a close up of a red-haired woman with freckles covering the skin on her face. The caption? "If you don't like your imperfections, someone else will."

Another shows what appears to be a man's face, with the camera zoomed in close to show his eyes; one of which is brown and one of which is blue. The caption on this one is the same.

The problem is, no one wants to be told that having red hair, freckles or different coloured eyes makes them imperfect. Commuters were quick to react to the new ad campaign, tweeting their distaste and anger. The social team tried to regain control of the situation by tweeting responses like "@IamFrenchGirl we love them too! Some people who have freckles tell us they perceive them as an imperfection. Happy to hear you don't" but it wasn't enough. Eventually, @match_uk tweeted "Freckles are beautiful. We celebrate them, as we celebrate whatever makes people unique. We're sorry if we offended anyone with our ad."

The complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority had already been rolling in and now the dating site is allegedly considering removing the billboards as the ASA is "assessing" the ads.

I can see that was probably just trying to encourage people to celebrate the things that they least like about their appearance, because something they felt was unattractive could actually be perceived as incredibly attractive to a potential partner. However, the dating site went totally the wrong way about it and has ended up offending plenty of people along the way.

Most national media outlets have picked up on this story, unsurprisingly in a negative light.

I'm no advertising mogul, but surely a better tact would have been focusing on real imperfections, like making a crap cup of tea or singing out of tune; things that people may accept they're bad at, but that others may find endearing. Focusing on appearance is a big no no and, which surely wants to encourage people to not judge a book by its cover, should have known that.

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: