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Good and Bad PR: TikTok, Issa brothers, Vow and Pepsi come out on top this week

I bring great news to the whole public relations community, I have survived and successfully returned from my excursion over in mainland Europe. “Hoorah!” you all shout. I can report that there is little of interest going on over there and everyone is truly delighted about Brexit. Maybe.

Onwards we march into this week’s Good and Bad PR and it is as action packed as ever. As a slight aside, for those contemplating writing a column like this, please be aware that trying to find sensible stories on the run up to April Fools’ Day is nearly impossible. If you could all knock them on the head, it would be appreciated.

Good PR


Pepsi, trying to recover from the suggestion by internet land that its marketing slogan should be “its Pepsi, is that ok?” this week pushed all that negativity down the search engines by announcing that it was cutting back on the sugar.

Traditional Pepsi will now have 57% less sugar in. Those old enough to remember when Coca Cola changed its recipe and how well that went down, will surely now be braced for an onslaught of angry consumer comments about the change in flavour, which will in turn trigger another wave of media coverage.

Really though, the only losers in this story will potentially be the Diabetic charities, damaged by the fact that their user-base will hopefully now drop thanks to this hugely sensible and responsible move by Pepsi. Great PR once again!


Let’s start with a positive and we head over the pond to our dearest American political cousins who this week made British politicians look like geniuses. The CEO of TikTok was hauled in front of a baying mob of angry American politicians to defend the company from accusations that his platforms was at the beck and call of the Chinese Communist Party.

Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, did incredibly well, not just in the face of adversity but also in the face of severe stupidity. Some of the questions by team USA were bordering on farcical and gave off the same vibes as when Zuck made a similar appearance. One particular exchange had the social media meme creators dribbling with excitement when a politician asked Chew if it was true that his app connected to users’ routers.

Of course it does, and he tried to explain this was how phones worked. Not sidetracked by this obvious “duh” moment, the politician went all-in by asking if it was true that the app could then control other devices that were also connected to the same router. Chew looked on incredulously.

The meme crew immediately set about creating pictures of Chinese Communist Party officials frantically monitoring what American consumers have in their fridges by taking control of their connected-devices chillers that the likes of Samsung and LG have launched in recent years. Farcical and great PR for Shou who Chewed them up and spat them out. A real lesson for media trainers everywhere.

Issa brothers

Sticking with the Good PR theme and the Issa brothers offa Asda and mass owners of petrol stations across the UK fame get Good PR for once again being at the pinnacle of British business success. It has been rumoured this week they are about to make an £8bn bid for the fancy sandwich brand, Subway.

They apparently own a fair few franchises here in the UK courtesy of their forecourt empire and as such it makes perfect sense. The brothers secured global coverage on the back of the news and it comes not long after they were rumoured to be looking to buy Boots as well.

What a dramatic rise it has been over the recent years for the Issa brothers, who are now riding the crest of positive business sentiment both here in the UK and over in America. Brilliant PR and great ambassadors for the UK business scene.

Bad PR


Let’s take a look at the bad side of the PR world for a moment and shock horror, it turns out that Hooters is not quite the high-brow, highly professional business that we all thought it was.

An undercover journalist took a quick glimpse at the massive Hooters in Liverpool and found it to be full of rude customers and even ruder managers. As a guy who hails from Liverpool myself, I know just how hard it must have been to expose the Hooters up there. Joking aside, the staff were given a somewhat 80s’ approach to their dress code and the rules around their appearance and even weight were just totally unacceptable.

I fully expect this to burst the Hooters bubble in the UK and it will spell the end of the out-dated franchise and brand. Some things are best left to the Americans I feel.

Stanton Cross Developments LLP

Staying with the Bad PR side of things and also a group who made a massive tit out of themselves, step forward Stanton Cross Developments LLP which has had a bad run of it of late. Stanton Cross is a new development in Northamptonshire that will eventually be homes, schools and various business and retail spaces.

It needed to clear the way for the new development so it culled a staggering 61 (oxygen giving) trees. The local council and the even more local muggles went berserk so work was halted and a consultation with a twist was launched. The twist? Well, actual scrutiny from trained media was frowned upon and shut down.

A Northamptonshire Telegraph reporter was told by the developers during the consultation meeting that her questions would not be answered. Up stepped a muggle to ask the same question and they were both, allegedly, told that they would get the boot if they didn’t pipe down! A novel and unique approach to modern day media relations. No word has reached me on the outcome of the consultation, but the brand damage has already been done, especially if you Google the Stanton Cross name.

Good PR


When I mentioned earlier on that finding positive stories during April Fools’ Day season was hard, I was specifically referencing this next dollop of Good PR. Australian company Vow has claimed that it has created the world’s first Woolly Mammoth meatball using “recreated flesh” from the long extinct creature.

Why? It would have us believe it is science but we all know, as industry professionals ourselves, it is all just a PR stunt but hey, let’s go along with it. Basically a team of scientists from an Australian university meddled about with some ancient Woolly Mammoth DNA and hey presto, press images were created showing ruddy huge meatballs.

Apparently, the real messages is something to do with reducing the slaughter of actual animals and the impact on the environment of something or other, but really, we all know it is just a fantastic PR stunt for Vow that has got it a prehistorical, animal-sized wedge of positive media coverage. Great PR.

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

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