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

Good and Bad PR: Highlights, and we mean very high, are Finnair, easyJet and Alton Towers

Another week of fun and shenanigans in the world of public relations can only mean one thing; I am back with this week’s dollop of Good and Bad PR.

Good PR

Alton Towers

We open this week with a massive win for one of our own. Smoking Gun PR won the Alton Towers account last year and has absolutely smashed it ever since. Over the last few weeks, it has been pushing the latest new ride from the Staffordshire theme park giants and it has been a huge success.

The Curse, labelled as “haunting” by the media, has been getting coverage across the board and it is all down to the great combined work of Smoking Gun and the in-house team. This is a huge strategic win for the roller-coaster giant because pretty much all of the articles have declined to mention some of the historic, negative situations, associated with the brand and that kind of thing does not happen by accident, it is down to the messaging and relationships.

So, let’s give a big kudos and high five to the combined teams for a job well done!

Finnair and easyJet

Sticking with a job well done, Finnair and easyJet have had a bonza PR week for their pilots’ responses to the Northern Lights being on full show. As well as being famous for announcing the current state of play for the flight you are sat on, pilots are also, it turns out, PR machines.

On separate flights, the two brands really drove home the “going the extra mile” mantra by doing a loop in order to show passengers the Northern Lights in their full effect and, of course, the muggles told the papers and positive headlines came out. A nice touch that the respective media team and newspapers lapped up. Great PR!

Bad PR

Heston Blumenthal

Speaking of loops, everyone’s fave oddball chef, Heston Blumenthal, got the Spanish archer this week from Waitrose and the break-up was not good. Off-the-record briefings from the high-end supermarket retailer of the posh appeared to put the boot into him.

His living outside of the UK and his out-there approach to flavours and recipes were cited as issues that led to the breakup. Heston declared himself “glad” for the split via his own off-the-record briefings and all in all, it left a very sour taste in the mouth.

From a media point of view, they loved it and it all smacks of an ill-thought-out approach to communicating a difficult message. Heston is now said to be launching a direct-to-consumer brand and Waitrose will be consulting the IP files to see what it owns and what he owns. Bad PR all round.


Sticking with posh supermarket fails and Ocado has had a stinker in the media this week too. Disappointing results have been reported and the city did not take to well, and nor did the media.

Its picking and packing service is supposedly second to none and this is why the likes of Marks and Spencer signed up, but the customers clearly don’t agree. With a capacity of picking and packing around 700,000 orders a week, the brand had fallen well short at delivering just 400,000. It feels like M&S was the big brand case study that it needed in order to convince other brands to come on board and potentially then secure exclusive pricing deals with suppliers, but it just has not materialised.

What is doubly worrying for the brand is that a few city analysts, who are never the friendliest of bunches at the best of times, are now saying that prior investors in Ocado are going to potentially struggle to get see the big gains that they hoped for. I can imagine that the relatively new owners of Asda, or another big-name supermarket brand or high-street retailer (cough, Mike Ashley) are looking on and hoping for another share price fall before swooping in to sweep up the technology and infrastructure.

Good news for some (but not all)

Neuzeller Klosterbräu

I am not sure if the last story of this week would get Bad PR from the beer purists or Good PR from the eco-hippy brigade. A German Beer brand has made global headlines this week thanks to reportedly inventing powdered beer (sigh).

The hugely well-known Neuzeller Klosterbräu positioned the powdered brew as a big win for people who are conscious of their carbon footprint. Apparently it said that it could not see the point of adding German water to bottles and ingredients and shipping them round the world at hugely inflated shipping fees when a powdered version would do the job for far less eco damage.

The global media drank in the story hook line and steiner and although I would personally not touch that drink at all, I have to doff my cap at the positive media coverage. Fair play to the Germans!

Got it right or wrong? You know where to find me!

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 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: