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Good & Bad PR: P&O Ferries sinks under a tidal wave of criticism

Look at the difference that a bit of sunshine makes! Whilst there are undoubtedly horrors still going on in the world, and I don’t just mean Boris Johnson’s Brexit vs Ukraine speech, there is a seeming new found wave of optimism brought on by a bit of nice weather.

Now we have got through the very British weather chat, hold on to your hats as we take a whistle-stop tour of the world of good and bad public relations.

Bad PR


No one will have missed the Titanic approach to PR that P&O Ferries has taken this week. It has been a disaster from start to now, and there is no finish in site which is why it gets an obvious Bad PR from me.

The comms has been nonsensical, and the resulting tidal wave of coverage has dragged in negativity for the Government over its handling of the situation and the vagueness of if MPs knew it was happening before it actually got announced (some of them did). P&O Cruises, an entirely separately owned business to P&O Ferries, is also getting nailed in the court of public perception and I fully expect a court case or seven to emerge about this angle alone.

It is not just a failure in communication it is a failure of being human.

Good PR


On to something far more positive and my first Good PR of the week goes to Duolingo which got positive headlines, positive social media (no really, such a thing exists) and positive results from its tattoo translation campaign called DuoOver. This really is a great example of a simple, low-budget (no offence, just a factual reference) campaign that has really flown.

Everyone who has a slightly dodgy looking letter-based tattoo will have undoubtedly been tagged in the resulting news stories that have been shared on social media and I expect this will be an early front runner for PR awards over the next year. Great work Duolingo, a brilliant, brilliant campaign.

Royal Mint

Next up is The Royal Mint. Again, a simple but genius campaign. There are millions of phones that go into landfill every year and the Royal Mint has found a way to make gold from the contents of the circuit boards.

The resulting gold is being made into commemorative coins that can be collected. The BBC loved it and did videos for its news section and for social sharing and this then triggered an avalanche of wider pick up of which the Royal Mint comms team should be proud.


Specsavers did a visual stunt that straddled the line of advertising, PR stunt and social media engagement with, once again, a really simple activation. It placed one of its outdoor 48 sheet billboard adverts vertically instead of horizontally (outside of the border) with the famous “should have gone to Specsavers” strapline.

Pictures were taken and sold into the media and the glasses-loving brand lapped up the resulting coverage. This caps off a great few months for the brand in terms of the social media love and PR wins.

Platinum FMD

A tangent Good PR to end with this week Platinum FMD, a Brazilian agency, released a concept campaign this week called “Some people should never have been born”, to be used by a potential condom brand. As per the word of the week for this column, it was super simple. Illustrations of the some of the world’s most renowned baddies, trapped in tied up condoms.

Putin, Kim Jong-Un and Trump all featured and the agency got a lot of love from all around the world. Massive thanks to Nathan Bickerton from Rise at Seven for shouting about this which is where I spotted it.

Got any Good or Bad PR, you know what to do. @10Yetis on the Twitter.

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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