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Good and Bad PR: John Lewis and Peter Kay are the Heroes but it's cynical from Amazon

With Christmas marketing now officially in full swing, come with me as I stride purposefully through this week’s Good and Bad PR.

Good PR

John Lewis

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, John Lewis has won the Christmas TV ad award once again. It’s tearjerker of an advert pulled on the heart strings and, maybe more importantly, made us all take a few minutes out of our day to sit and watch it.

We know the PR onslaught will now ensue and we can even play John Lewis communications bingo: 1. The views beats a previous record (press release), a product sells out because of it (press release), sales over the Xmas season either fly or tank (trading update). I love John Lewis for the PR machine that is its Christmas advert.

Cynical PR


Another PR machine launched a slightly different campaign this week, and this was Amazon via a clear and obvious Dead Cat PR plan. Two days before the tech giant announced a swathe of job cuts around its Alexa, Luna and Lab126 divisions, its newly buff founder offered up a smoke screen that he was “building the capacity to be able to give away” his money.

This is a far cry from a solid, final and cast-iron plan, but it did help deflect and push down the negative articles that came the day after, when it was rumoured to have cut around 3% of its workforce. Obviously, Amazon was not the first high-profile tech organisation to have made staff redundant this week, and this is always a tough comms message, but it is the only one to deploy a rather cynical attempt to drown out the negative noise via a bit of charity-washing.

More Good PR


Another tech giant hitting the headlines but this time for good reasons is Apple. It announced that its SOS Satellite functionality has gone live in America and Canada this week and it will be coming to the UK in December.

For those not in the know, every time a person gets themselves in a situation where they need emergency help, the Gods of the mobile phone signals conspire for it to happen in a no-coverage area. Apple has built the technology into its phones whereby, in an emergency, you can hit the SOS button (actually a process) and send a message via the closest satellite that your phone can connect to. Hey presto. This will undoubtedly ruin every horror film going forward, but that is no bad thing either.

Peter Kay

Let’s quickly move away from tech and back to national favourites and everyone was cheered up when Peter Kay announced that he was going to be performing again. He tried to price his tickets as affordably as possible, but along came the touts to snap them up and flog them on for an inflated price.

Kay and a host of other comedians, such as Jason Manford, came out to criticise the touts for doing this and whilst it does not solve the problem, it did show how much they care. Kay himself also commented how crazy he felt it was that the national TV news channels all pretty much led with the breaking news that he was touring for the first time in 12 years, but you know what, he is a national icon and he deserves Good PR of the week for giving us all a lift.

Electrical Safety First

Continuing with national treasures, charity group Electrical Safety First is quickly becoming the PR sensation of 2022 thanks to another of its campaigns absolutely catching fire in the media. The campaign in question, checks notes, was warning muggles to use electric heaters safely and wisely during the cold months or they could set fire to things (see the pun, I thank you).

The reason why this was a PR Hit 101 was because it ticked the third-party endorsement angle too via various fire brigades supporting the message and giving the story extra legs. Nice one ya charity legends, again, saving actual lives using PR!

Taylor Herring, Heroes and Celebrations

We started with a Christmas campaign and let’s end on one too. There has been much PR fanfare about the tubs of chocs that everyone loves devouring whilst watching films and listening to dads fart on Christmas Day (just me?). The Bounty-gate story by Taylor Herring leads the way so far and I am not sure if the Heroes chocolates one was a PR stunt or just an engineer making a decision that no one sense checked.

Due to supplier issues, mini Twirl chocolates are not currently available. Someone at Heroes thought “I know, lets just pop a few full sized ones in instead”. A simple and effective solution. Of course the muggles kicked off, because, why not? It got great coverage though and I am sure sales will go up as everyone wants to try and find tubs with the full-size bars in. Dear God, what is happening to the UK? Well done Taylor Herring, Celebrations and Heroes chocolate and everyone else involved.

Something to look forward to!

Not one to tease, but I am going to end on a cliff hanger. Word reaches me from PRmoment towers that there is soon to be a video-based review of the year of Good and Bad PR. To steal a joke from Peter Kay, I shall soon be coming in your ears. And on that positive note, see y’all next week!

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

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