02.01.2019 | The best and worst PR campaigns of 2018
Greggs – Valentine’s Day fine dining
Is there anything a millennial couple want more than a candle lit Valentine’s Day dinner at Greggs? Dimmed lights, candelabras and waiter service offered couples a romantic evening surrounded by their favourite baked goods.
After ending 2017 in a twitter storm following a sausage roll baby Jesus, Greggs began 2018 with a similar furore.
The ultimate treat for Greggs fans, mainstream news and social media went crazy for the campaign. It might not have put more pastries in people’s mouths but it certainly made Greggs the topic on everybody’s lips.
— Greggs (@GreggsOfficial) January 29, 2018
Virgin Trains – #Avocard
Taking the crown for the most bizarre campaign of the year (by some stretch) was Virgin Trains #Avocard.
Following the instant sell out of the trial 26-30 year old railcard in March, the rail company offered some solace to future travellers.
For one week only, anyone aged 26-30 who brought an avocado (yes an avocado!) to the station would be entitled to a third off their fare, a matched discount to railcard users.
Criticised by some, lauded by many. The year’s craziest PR stunt dominated newspapers and social media, which all in all was fantastic for the rail network.
Didn’t bag a Millennial Railcard? Have no fear! Simply present an avocado in place of your railcard when booking your ticket and you’ll be entitled to the same fantastic 1/3 off discount for one week only. Full details here: https://t.co/7Dp48RWzgp 🥑 #Avocard #railcard pic.twitter.com/NLhPfbD2yp
— Virgin Trains (@VirginTrains) March 13, 2018
Iceland – Rang Tan the orangutan
The UK’s most viewed Christmas advert of all time and it wasn’t even allowed on TV.
In order to raise awareness of the effects of palm oil on wildlife, Iceland produced a fantastic cartoon advert featuring Rang Tan the orangutan.
The advert was quickly pulled from TV screens after being deemed as political advertising.
However, this did not stop the freezer food giant from posting the video to YouTube, with the advert racking up over 30 million views and a wave of support and praise across the media.
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Nike and Colin Kaepernick – ‘Just do it’ campaign
Brave. Brilliant. Controversial. Twitter Meltdown. Just a few words to describe the response to Nike and NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s collaboration for the ‘Just do it’ campaign.
The brand made the controversial choice to make the athlete the face of its biggest 2018 campaign after Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem as a response to racism and police brutality in America.
One of the biggest social media debates in recent years was sparked with videos of American nationalists burning Nike products and vowing never to purchase from the sports brand again.
In the main, the sportswear giant gained worldwide praise and coverage for its choice to stand out from the crowd. Nike proved itself as not just a beacon for sports but for cultural movement.
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H&M – ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’
The ‘Am I actually seeing this right?’ thought was in full throttle following H&M’s clothing range release on their website in January.
An image of a young black child wearing a hoodie branded ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’ caused international outrage with The Weeknd and G-Eazy cutting ties with the brand.
Labelled as racist and insensitive the clothing giant was forced to make a sincere and detailed apology, with bosses attending an anti-racism conference in South Africa to address the issue.
H&M has appointed a diversity manager after dealing with the fallout from using a black child to advertise a hoodie with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle” https://t.co/QK2tetYYML pic.twitter.com/TxmJ7tnrKD
— CNN (@CNN) January 18, 2018
Ryanair – racist incident on the plane
Seemingly always in a spot of media turbulence, Ryanair once again took the headlines for its abysmal handling of an incident on-board one of its aircraft.
A video published on Twitter showed an elderly black woman being racially abused by a fellow passenger on a flight from Barcelona to London Stanstead.
The video quickly went viral, however Ryanair’s response to the incident was small and inadequate, releasing the following statement on Twitter: “We are aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police.”
The airline failed to address the incident until the next day, with most of their statement blaming media outlets rather than focusing on the actual incident. The video has racked up over 2.7million views, a PR nightmare for an already controversial airline.
Watch the video below:
This is a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London the racist old man didn’t not want to sit next to this elderly woman Because she was black & to him black People are dirty
Instead of them escorting him off the flight or moving him they fulfilled his wishes and moved the woman😕 pic.twitter.com/g7k7M2S0rB
— 🇯🇲✨ || Nickisha ||✨🇯🇲 (@NickiPlayhouse_) October 20, 2018
TSB’s mobile banking nightmare
Informing 1.9 million people that they would be unable to access their online accounts for three days was always going to be a recipe for disaster, but nobody was prepared for TSB customers flooding the bank’s social media channels after still not getting access 2 days later.
TSB’s CEO Paul Pester took to Twitter to apologise and confirmed that: “Our mobile banking app and online banking are now up and running. Thank you for your patience and for bearing with us.”
But the disaster was only just beginning… Pester was forced to backtrack, admitting only 50% of customers could access online banking and it then transpired many users were able to see fellow customer’s details following a mass data breach.
The CEO franticly took to the radio to pass the blame and confirm ‘he was taking control’ in a desperate attempt to save face. However, the damage was already done leaving customers without online banking for nearly two weeks, tarnishing the banks reputation and brand loyalty. Pester unsurprisingly resigned from his role a short while later.
We’re planning an upgrade to our systems between 4pm Friday 20th of April until 6pm Sunday 22nd of April. We’re sorry but during this time some services, like online banking, making payments or transferring money won’t be possible. For details please visit https://t.co/jSmnTgJcDZ pic.twitter.com/H3JWJtgNxC
— TSB (@TSB) April 19, 2018