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Good and Bad PR: Oil companies are the giant baddies this week, followed by Lidl, Google and Zoom

Morning to all the PR lovers and haters out there. Here we are again, a week before the big day of love and I must admit, I'm not angry, I am just disappointed to have seen very few Valentine’s Day campaigns kick off… keep me posted please.

Bad PR

Here we go then, another ripsnorter of a week in serious comms land, so let’s get to it and start with a large dollop of Bad PR, or should that be “not reading the room” PR.

Oil companies

Whilst the rest of the world struggles to cope with the soaring cost of energy and fuel, BP managed to just about eek through the cost-of-living crisis by announcing a $27bn profit. Yes, you read that right.

The oil energy giant doubled its profits and not content with that possibly leaving a bad taste in consumers mouths, it also announced it was scaling back its climate targets. You cannot make this up. Whilst the Russia vs Ukraine war is being used as a reason for many companies losing profits, it actually helped BP as it pushed energy and oil prices up.

I can’t help but feel that were the UK not presently crippled by strikes and a Government in, seeming, pre-general election limbo, there would have been more unrest from consumers at the profit announcements by the likes of BP and Shell very recently. Again though, someone always seems to profit from war and once again, it is the oil companies.

Lidl

Sticking with Bad PR and Lidl vs Tesco promises to be another pointless legal scrap over something that consumers really don’t care about and would probably prefer that the legal fees be instead translated into lower prices on the shelves.

The discount supermarket stores love a legal battle. Let’s not forget, nothing usually raises consumer awareness more than two brands going into battle and the likes of Aldi and Lidl have mastered the art of this. This week it is Lidl’s turn, taking on Tesco for daring to use a yellow roundel in its on-shelf Clubcard prices promotional marketing. Really? Yes really.

Lidl, not one consumer cares about this and dare I say it, there is now becoming legal-battle fatigue in the media over these cases. The first, Marks and Spencer and the caterpillar cake, was quite amusing, but fast forward to a few weeks ago and Aldi losing a legal case of the similarity of its gin with M&S’s and really, no one cared.

Being provocative to raise awareness (copying big brand designs) is all well and good and a tried-and-tested marketing tactic, but I feel this is going too far now. Dear discount supermarket brands, we all love you, we all love your low prices, but have a week off on the drama front, no one cares.

Google

For the first time in a long time, I had to do an emergency re-write of the next story. Originally I had Google down for Great PR after it announced it was entering the AI market. The reception it initially received over the launch of Bard was phenominal in terms of wall-to-wall positive write ups.

But then… it went wrong. Google did a live demo of Bard in a big, very public show and tell, and all did not go to plan. It went so badly in fact that it immediately wiped $120bn off Google’s share price. Ouch.

I am sure that the share price will recover, just as sure as I am that it will go on to be a major player in the AI world, but right now, it gets Bad PR for a very rocky launch demo.

Zoom

The final Bad PR of the week goes to Zoom of “can you all see my screen” fame. It announced this week that it is laying off 15% of its workforce, around 1,500 staff. We all know why, because the post-pandemic WFH era is slowly drawing to an end.

It is another example of a tech company that over-resourced thinking that WFH was here to stay and to try and cope with the Covid-tech boom, but has struggled to maintain momentum and is now having to scale back. There is no doubt that the technology platform has contributed heavily to the revolution in working practices and it will be interesting to see how the next 18 months pans out for the brand in terms of it getting snapped up by another giant or slowly shrinking back to where it was pre-pandemic.

Good PR

Let’s end on a positive story.

HM Treasury and Bank of England

HM Treasury and Bank of England emerge with the final Good PR of this week thanks to the announcement that they plan to have a “Digital Pound” in place by the end of this decade. One of the core reasons this gets Good PR is because both organisations quickly moved to address the historical issues associated with crypto currencies and that is their volatility.

The Treasury neatly nipped that potential worry in the head by saying “Ten digital pounds will always be worth the same as £10 cash”. With other countries like USA and China also considering digitising their currency this is a strong move by the UK to try and steal a march on other currencies and put itself at the forefront of this technology.

Please help!

I want to end this week by asking you to donate to the Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal. No one can fail to be touched by the graphic images that have been shown in the media since the disaster struck. Times are tough I know, but just giving £1 could help. Here is a link to ActionAid which is one of a few places that have appeals live: https://www.actionaid.org.uk/donate/emergency/turkey-syria-earthquake-appeal

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 andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email

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