Monthly Archives: December 2013

No such thing as bad publicity?


Like the title suggests, is there anything such as bad PR? I personally think there is, from both a consumer and a PR point of view. If a brand you like is being publicised in a negative way, you are less likely to want to continue to use the brand, and from a PR point of view, if your client is receiving a considerable amount of negative press, well your job just got a whole lot harder!

An example of this came to light a couple of days ago. As I was on Facebook, I came across a link that was doing the rounds on the social media website that revealed two very popular high street shops, H&M and Topshop, that have stores all over the world. Topshop are all to a custom to a disaster or two in the past, such as the tax evasion and sweat shop allegations but this time after secret filming came to light of workers of a sub-supplier for both stores in China were found to be plucking fur from rabbits who were sadly still alive and go through this every three months once the fur grows back again. The footage was released by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showing the awful, despicable act.

H&M were the first high street shop to acknowledge the fact that some of their items were being produced in this way and quickly ceased and recalled all items of clothing and took them off their website and off the shelves in stores. I personally think that this is a great show of respect and concern for ethical trading by H&M, and from a PR point of view it is extremely clever, taking a very serious situation and turning in to something that benefits them reputation wise. What H&M didn’t bank on was the way in which Topshop are handling this situation, once again, I find that Topshop have half heartedly halted the sourcing of Angora wool purely because they know they have to, rather than because they genuinely believe in ethical trading like H&M have shown themselves to do.

I say this because they have continued to sell the rest of the stock of the 42 items of clothing that are made of Angora wool, clearly on a money making scheme which is definitely what the point of business is, but sometimes I fear companies do more damage to their reputation in the long haul in what could be a short term money loss situation, and I’m sure Topshop aren’t doing that bad!

There is currently a petition to stop the sales of the remaining stock of the Angora wool garments in Topshop and at present there are just short of 101,000 signatures on the petition and the total needed before action is taken is 120,000. H&M have said that they are going to step up their inspections of its sub-suppliers in order to stop anything like this happening again in the future and has released a statement saying customers who have previously bought Angora products in the past from the store can take them back for full refunds, which is a fantastic approach to take and definitely keeps the respect and loyalty of regular customers but also attracts new customers who wouldn’t normally shop in the affordable clothing store. Topshop is doing the complete opposite and is showing a very poor attitude in such a serious matter that is becoming increasingly apparent to todays society, especially when there are more humane ways to treat animals rather than what was looked over in the past.

Topshop’s PR department need to tread carefully in the following days as it is easy to let this situation turn in to a huge disaster, I personally think that they should just swallow their pride and pull the items now to show that they do actually care about the issue and not all the money that their over priced garments are going to make them in this holiday season!

Much like Tesco’s horse meat scandal earlier this year, the way in which they handled it was somewhat questionable considering the apology they released didn’t sound like they were sorry about the situation, but rather that they were sorry for being caught before trying to pass the blame on to everybody else rather than themselves.

I think that companies who are major players in their sectors should genuinely concern themselves with issues such as the ones spoken about in this blog, purely because it puts a sour taste in peoples mouths, and tarnish’s the brand, a quote that jumps to mind is ‘forgive but never forget’, even though their customers will remain loyal, they will forever be brought up in questionable times.

Crisis management at the ready!

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Christmas Spirit


So it is that time of year again, the Christmas tree’s are brought out of their boxes, glitter covers the entire house, tinsel as far as the eye can see, and of course the obligatory Christmas TV advert from our favourite brands. There are plenty of new adverts this year, from the nations favourite Coca Cola advert to a brand new tear jerker from John Lewis, and it is nice to see big player getting in the Christmas spirit!

Coca Cola

Coca Cola always do a fantastic job at creating different variations of the classic advert. Coca Cola really pulled it out the bag this year though. After hearing the devastating news regarding the Philippines, the huge company decided that they were going to suspend their ad campaign this Christmas in the Philippines in order to donate all the money that would of otherwise been spent promoting their brand. So far Coca Cola have donated $2.4million in cash and in-kind contributions. There are still some cynics about who think that Coca Cola have done this as a marketing strategy to make them look like do gooders, but in all honesty, if it raises over $2million for the Philippines, who really cares what the motive is?! From a PR perspective it is a fantastic move, considering the sales for Coca Cola are falling, this stunt will really work in their favour!

John Lewis

Following John Lewis’ 2012 Christmas advert where we seen the heartfelt relationship between a snowman and his snowlady, I thought it would be pretty hard to follow that up with something of the same level. The powerhouse department store threw a massive £7,000,000 at the advertisement this year which is aptly called Bear and the Hare:

This extremely expensive advertisement sees the unlikely friendship between a bear and a hare. The beginning of the ad see’s the run up to christmas and that the bear hibernates so has never had a Christmas before. The hare then hops off to John Lewis and buys the bear a present, long story short, it’s an alarm clock that wakes the bear up on Christmas day and all the woodland creatures have a fantastic day and enjoy the festivities. The slogan of the advert is ‘Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget‘, it is a really endearing advert and attracts all ages, so it’s a job well done by the creative teams over at John Lewis, is it worth £7million though? Probably not!


Now, this well known supermarket decided to go one step further than most brands we have become accustomed to, and created a 50 minute feature film that can be viewed on YouTube and actually premiered in a cinema in London. This cleverly heartwarming advert is constructed of short video clips that have been filmed by real families in the UK around Christmas time to show what real Christmas looks like.

The advert really pulls on our heart strings when at the end of the advert, a family with three young children are filming a message to send to their father who is currently on tour with the Army. I thought that this was a clever PR move for Sainsbury’s, especially how they handled the bomb shell that someone over in the editing team failed to spot the Co-Op lemon torte, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding in plain sight behind an unsuspecting gentleman explaining his Christmas dinner! Wouldn’t have liked to be the person who must of been the topic of conversation in that meeting!

Marks & Spencers

Marks & Spencers always puts on a great Christmas Advert, and this year doesn’t disappoint! The theme this year is Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood and The Wizard of Oz and features some famous faces that must have cost a fortune to get on board! From heart throb model David Gandy, to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to the hugely loved Helena Bonham Carter, it has it all! It is a truly magical advert that fits right in with Christmas, it is beautifully executed and definitely draws you in to watch the entire advert without turning over! Very well done M&S!


Debenhams have tried to replicate the success of their 2012 advert with the statement red coat this year, which features two beautiful coats, one male, one female. I find that this is one of the only adverts that is obviously advertising their own brand, which isn’t a bad thing, I just think it is missing something special even though the advert is beautifully shot and edited. The advert contains the singer, Foxes, who has done a slow, Christmassy version of her well known song Youth, but again, it lacks a special Christmas element for me personally!

I must say that all the big players have pulled out all the stops to get in the Christmas spirit, but my favourite advert this year has to be John Lewis’ The Bear & The Hare, there has been so much effort put in to the production and the story is sentimental and has a great Christmas story at the centre of it all! £7million well spent!

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