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PR Stunt Watch: Trustpilot and SportsDirect

From augmented reality to virtual reality, artistic intelligence to artificial intelligence, Stuntwatch is about finding the most technically brilliant, innovative, and ground-breaking work the PR industry has to offer…so let’s kick off with a simple press office story.

Trustpilot is a review site for everyone. You know the drill, like something give it five stars. Dislike something, give it one star. Apparently, some absolute psychopaths do use stars two to four, but it’s the ones and fives that really shape a business’ online review profile…so Trustpilot used their own data to see who was leaving the most one and five-star reviews.

Lovely Susans leave the most five-star reviews, but that’s boring. Who leaves the most one-star reviews? It’s Dave. This year Daves left over 20,000 one-star reviews on Trustpilot.

The headlines write themselves and they did. Men BeDaveing Badly, Difficult Davids, pictures of Cameron, Beckham and Walliams for the red top gold. This story went everywhere, from paper round-up discussions to non-PR people WhatsApp groups. The magic of this story is simple – everyone knows a Dave. See this story, you’re sending this to a Dave. My first ever girlfriend was Sarah - the most moaning womans name - of course she got the headline sent to her. To be clear, this isn’t me being bitter – we get on, which - of course my wife - playfully hates. Such was the shareability of this idea, I was willing to risk a telling off.

I love this idea for several reasons. Firstly, and maybe because I’m closer to 40 than 30 now, I love a big print spread. Secondly, I had genuinely never heard of Trustpilot before and now I have. This Greg only does five-stars and one-stars on Google reviews, normally when under pressure from a Turkish barber with a blade to my neck, but it turns out there’s a whole world of review sites out there.

But most importantly, it proves that the core fundamentals of great creative comms remain the same. Keep it simple, keep it shareable. This can be achieved via world class midjourney creations, it could come from CGI make-up…it can from your own data and Dave.

Having celebrated an idea that was delightfully red-top, I feel honour-bound to shine a light on a more cerebral execution from the good people at Pitch for their Sports Direct client.

On the Saturday before England’s ill-fated final vs Spain, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE pointed out that the Lionesses were ‘not that diverse’ and filled with ‘blonde, blue-eyed’ football stars. This comment did seem to ignore that Lauren James and Jess Carter were having stand out tournaments and making this point just before a World Cup final didn’t pass the taste test for many, but like most unpopular views – there was more than a hint of truth in it.

Women remain under-represented in football generally, women from different ethnicities are under-represented in women’s football and this under-representation even extends to our search engine algorithms. Google ‘football fans’ and you’ll most likely see a group of men on the sofa, inexplicably holding a football while they watch football. Google ‘women’s football’ and you’ll find – mainly – blue-eyed, blonde footballers and normally from the United States.

To fix this, Sports Direct and Getty Images teamed up to create ‘stock images’ that were, well, less stocky. Black women playing football, more women referees and Asian women watching football…whilst still inexplicably holding a football while they watch football. Moreover, they are completely free-to-use – encouraging brands, media and PE teachers to use these images over bland, less inclusive alternatives.

The end result was a load of coverage in the sort of hipster, lifestyle titles (HypeBae, Stylist etc.) that I imagine Sports Direct does not always end up in and wants to be in more.

Sure, a cynic may point out that if Sports Direct wants to be seen as progressive they should stop treating their staff like their most famous product (giant mugs), but I’m not a cynic.

If you do a good thing, it should be treated as such. If you provide a solution to a problem, you should be applauded. One of the most lingering problems in inclusive comms is ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’ and with this idea, a young Asian girl’s chances of seeing a footballer that looks like her and one that isn’t from Bend It Like Beckham are increased. That can only be a good thing, right?

This week's PR Stunt Watch was written by Greg Double, Creative Director at Mischief PR.

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