Debunking PR Myths: ‘There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity’

P.T. Barnum once said, ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’. Barnum, the 19th– century entrepreneur and founder of the Barnum & Bailey circus, was no stranger to controversy; even before he was known for putting on glittering shows, he was always ready to stir up the public with scandals and scams.  

Putting on the first media circus, Barnum employed several advertising techniques, including pioneering publicists who would raise awareness for shows, media tour with performers and capture outrageous publicity stunts. To whip up a media frenzy, one stunt involved swapping out oxen for an elephant to plough his six-acre garden home in Connecticut, USA. Newspapers reported glowing accounts of the stunt which in turn successfully advertised the circus.  

However, amongst his storm of PR stunts came protests and lots of bad press circulating the ill treatment and exploitative nature of Barnum’s ‘freak shows’. In 1899, Annie Jones, known as the Bearded lady, began to stir the media once more by disputing against Barnum’s derogatory circus acts.   

Barnum’s lifetime of whirlwind press lent into his American circus legacy – a legacy to then be commended over a century later in the 2017 blockbuster ‘The Greatest Showman’ starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Effron.  

This begs the question: Is all press really good press? 

The Upsides of Controversial Press 

Visibility and Awareness 

As in Barnum’s case, controversial press can undeniably boost brand visibility. With our minds being overloaded with content from oversaturated social media platforms, our attention spans have shrunk. To grab attention, stories need to have some level of shock value to be worth the read. Controversial press can most definitely deliver on this. 

Engagement and Discussion 

Controversy sparks conversation. Creating a piece of content that discusses a polarizing topic can circle attention around your brand. Opening a discussion that allows people to engage with the brand in question can then make the brand go viral. What’s more, controversial press can even spur on its loyal supporters to rally behind the brand and promote its message.  

Differentiation  

In a crowded market, controversy can help a brand really stand out. Embracing controversy can signal boldness and a willingness to tackle difficult topics, which can attract a specific audience that values authenticity and courage. Take for example Nike’s ‘For Once, Just Don’t Do It’ campaign that followed the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. The campaign was an urgent call for consumers and companies to fight against racism. Nike’s campaign took ownership of a controversial topic, used it to spread a positive message and, as a result, was extremely well received. The campaign built the brand’s credibility so much so that many of its competitors, like Adidas, quickly followed suit.  

The Downsides of Controversial Press 

Damage to Reputation  

In one fell swoop, controversial press can tarnish your brand’s image and lead to a loss of trust among customers and stakeholders. Once your brand has gained a negative reputation, this can be very difficult to change. Take for example the dating app Thursday that hired a camel to stand outside Liverpool Street Station in London, making it wear a handwritten billboard promoting the app. The stunt has been widely condemned for animal exploitation and this is not the first time that the brand has been faulted for using deliberately controversial marketing tactics. The controversy has damaged the brand’s reputation and polarised growing consumer groups such as vegans, vegetarians, animal enthusiasts and the like.  

Financial Repercussions 

Customers may choose to distance themselves from a brand involved in controversy, especially if it contradicts their values and beliefs. This will inevitably lead to a drop in sales. What’s more, if your brand has been marked with a bad reputation, the investment needed to rebuild a positive communication with customers would take a lot of time and money.  

Mental and Emotional Impact 

Backlash can really take a toll on people’s emotional and mental health. Employees may feel demoralised or uncomfortable working for a brand that is under negative scrutiny, leading to higher turnover rates and difficulties in attracting new talent.  

Limiting Partner and Sponsorship Opportunities 

Existing partners, potential sponsors and investors will become wary and may no longer want to be associated with a brand facing negative attention.  

Debunking the Myth 

It’s without a doubt that attracting positive media attention and press coverage is vital for increasing brand awareness and credibility. Furthermore, using your brand’s social power to spark positive conversation around difficult topics that promote strong ethics is becoming increasingly valued by consumers. However, the press is a powerful tool and hoping to build brand awareness by simply sparking outrage can do irreversible damage to your brand’s reputation and financials. Likewise, not having the right infrastructure in place to prepare for a brand crisis can also generate bad press and damage your brand’s credibility. The answer is, then, there is such thing as bad publicity.   

In times of crisis, being an effective spokesperson for your brand is essential. However, being able to keep everyone informed, maintain a clear line of communication and methodology to approach a PR crisis can be difficult when in the midst of a crisis situation. A PR team can help you work through crisis far more efficiently with a goal of keeping everyone informed and mitigating risks to reputation.  

Click here to find out more about Source PR.  

 

The Willy Wonka Experience: Dos and Don’ts of Using Generative AI

In November 2022, OpenAI released an early demo of ChatGPT. The demo quickly took the world by storm, causing a seismic shift for creatives across all industries. First met with skepticism and caution, AI has now risen to prominence which only begs the question: how can we use AI in our marketing strategies authentically and responsibly?  

The Willy-Wonka Debacle 

On February 24, the House of Illuminati debuted ‘Willy’s Chocolate Experience’, an immersive event set to live up to the ‘pure imagination’ of the Roald Dahl classic. Priced at £35 a head, guests were promised a grandiose tour filled with ‘delectable chocolate fountains’, ‘whimsical Oompa Loompa performances’ and ‘surprises at every turn’.  

However, much to their surprise, ticketholders were to be greeted with a two-minute walkaround of a half-empty warehouse filled with questionable make-shift props, pegged-up wall-hangings and actors who themselves were trying to make sense of what on earth had gone wrong.  

Some cross parents, tears and news coverage later, this Willy Wonka debacle went viral. 

How was it that a company was able to set up such spectacular expectations to then only fall by the wayside?  

Billy Coull, director of the House of Illuminati, is said to have already published a whopping 17 ChatGPT-written novels. And, this AI ‘strategy’ had also been adopted when founding the House of Illuminati in November 2023. When advertising the event, the House of Illuminati used AI-style images with uncannily written descriptions that make you suspect that a human may not have written this: 

Exhibit A: AI Advertising of the Event vs Reality 

  Creator of Willy Wonka-Themed Experience Apologizes for Failed Event

Exhibit B: An Oddly Worded Description of the ‘Delectable Chocolate Fountains 

Picture yourself standing before cascading chocolate fountains, each velvety stream inviting you to dip, indulge, and savor the richness of Willy Wonka’s world. These delectable fountains are not just a treat for the taste buds; they’re a visual spectacle, creating an atmosphere of chocolatey bliss that permeates the air. 

A Cautionary Tale of Using AI Badly 

Whilst both the uproar and memes that followed the event have been undoubtedly entertaining, the Willy Wonka experience sure has taught us some valuable lessons in how not to use AI… 

Should We Be Using AI in Our Marketing Strategies? 

At the start of 2024, Hootsuite released a report detailing the forecasted prominence of generative AI across social media marketing strategies.  

So far, statistics show that:  

  • 67% of companies use AI to edit and redefine text, with this percentage to increase to 86% in 2024.  
  • 57% of companies use AI to develop new ideas, with the figure predicted to rise to 82% in 2024.  
  • 22% of companies use AI to generate images, with the percentage forecasted to rise to 52% by the end of 2024.  

The consensus regarding the rise in using AI was that companies are indeed going to be factoring AI into their marketing strategies. AI, when used correctly, is ultimately a time and money-saving tool. Though it’s entirely okay to be skeptical about using it at first, the fact of the matter is, it’s not about who or what creates your content anymore, but rather the resulting brand experience for your customer.  

With this in mind, we all need to begin thinking about how we can use AI responsibly whilst protecting our authenticity, talent and brand experience. 

AI Don’ts: 

Don’t Use Generative AI for Factual Answers 

Yes, chatbots have a wealth of information at their fingertips. But, this means that they will only give you the average response they can find on the internet. The average response it gives might be correct… or it might be very, very wrong. ChatGPT will even admit to you that its last software update was in April 2023 and cannot provide real-time information.  

Don’t Use Chat GPT to Write Your Content

Chat GPT is deceptively realistic and at first may spout half a written page that sounds great, but when looked into further, is actually a load of waffle with some pretentious adjectives. Often, if you were to read something written by ChatGPT (see Exhibit B) it sounds off. Writing blogs with a human touch is the best way to keep your content authentic and high quality. 

Keeping your content controlled by humans will also be a great help for the Google rankings. In fact, AI-generated content with zero human oversight is less likely to perform well SEO-wise. For instance, sites that used AI-generated content with no human input dropped eight positions in the SERPs and lost an average of 17% traffic.  

Don’t Share Sensitive Information 

AI has catapulted in the last two years and there has been little to no regulations made in terms of the privacy of any information you input. If you do find yourself using AI, be sure not to offer up any sensitive information.  

Don’t Forget That YOU Are The Expert 

It can be easy to feel disempowered by the rise of generative AI. However, you (the human), must remember that you are ultimately the brand expert. Generative AI will never know your brand as well as the person working inside the business, or the PR agency for that matter. Generative AI will not be able to get its hands on what goes on inside client meetings, who exactly your niche target audience is, future business plans and your team’s collaborative brand vision. To put it simply, AI took the wheel for the Willy-Wonka experience and look what happened… 

AI Dos: 

Use AI As Your New Virtual Assistant 

If you find you are a little stuck and under time constraints for thinking of a new content idea, you can use bots to brainstorm ideas and suggest content, as you would do with a colleague. But remember that bots only ingest what is already out there, so you will need to keep in mind whether the ideas it generates will actually be innovative and trendy.  

Keep It Human 

A personal touch will always go a long way, especially in today’s hybrid-online society. So, keep interacting with comments, shouting out influencers, reposting what’s popular, ensuring posts are up to brand standards and collaborating (with humans) toward a niche content strategy.  

Be Specific 

Should you use AI when generating ideas or drafting social media captions, it is recommended to keep an AI style guide. When feeding AI your demands, be sure to cover the tone, style, type of photography you’d like and who your target audience is. It is also a good idea to share the style guide amongst colleagues so your bot will output cohesive information.  

Think About Your Audience 

AI has been met with a lot of skepticism. In fact, 33% of baby boomers (dob. 1946-1964) say they are less likely to engage with something if they know it has been created by AI. On the other hand, only 20% of Gen Z (dob. 1997-2012) said they are less likely to engage with something if they know it has been AI-generated.  

Furthermore, AI is very good at generalising, but you are good at personalising. What AI can’t do is really get to know your target audience. Be sure to know exactly who your brand’s audience is, what they like, where they live, what stage of life they are in, their buying habits, language, age, etc. You can use AI to generate ideas as a starting point, but you can run away with those ideas and tailor them to suit your bespoke brand needs.  

At Source PR, we work collaboratively toward personalised strategies that best suit your brand’s needs. If your business is looking for an experienced team of marketing professionals that can help attract, influence and engage with all types of bespoke audiences, click here to find out more.  

International Women’s Day: How to ‘Inspire Inclusion’ in your PR and marketing activity

International Women’s Day in 2024 should need no explanation. March 8th has been earmarked to celebrate and promote equality for women – all four billion of us. This year’s IWD theme is #InspireInclusion, intended to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion. With this in mind, let’s break down some ways you can make sure PR and marketing activity is inclusive to all.

Avoid stereotypes and bias

 This seems like an obvious one, but it’s 2024 and stereotyping still happens. I recall once sending a journalist a press release about my property client who had hired a new starter, a young black female, to a senior role. Instead of using the headshot provided, they opted for a stock image of two white men in suits shaking hands. Once called out, the image was immediately changed, however this is just one example of the underlying bias that still exists in the corporate world.

Be inclusive as well as diverse

Vernā Myers once said, diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. When brainstorming marketing, PR and campaign ideas, it can be easy to listen to the loudest person in the room. However, when we employ a diverse workforce and then take onboard everyone’s ideas, creativity is increased tenfold and there’s certainly much less of culturally insensitive campaigns.

Use subtitles and captions on videos

 Video is a must in any social media or marketing campaign but it’s also important to make sure that video can be understood by all. Including captions helps those who cannot hear the video, or may not understand the language to do so.

And as a bonus, adding a textual transcription to videos will almost certainly have a positive impact on the video’s metrics.

Know your audience and read the room

Perhaps one of the first and most important elements of any PR or marketing campaign is knowing your audience. It’s important not to be caught out being short sighted or not completely understanding the audience that the PR or marketing is aimed at. Tone deaf campaigns (2016 Gap Kids campaign, anyone?) can do serious damage to a brand, so high quality research and conducting  a persona workshop, in some cases, can be vital.

Image from X

It’s clear that inclusion is key when it comes to creating a successful marketing, comms or PR campaign. If you’d like to talk to Source about how we can help with this, then get in touch!

Are We Still Feeling The Love For Seasonal Campaigns?

Valentine’s Day shares a likeness with Christmas, Halloween, April Fool’s Day and many of the other weird and wacky days the country celebrates throughout the year. They all get us buzzing about what marketing campaigns we can cook up.

Once upon a time, it used to be just the big holidays that would keep marketers busy. But nowadays – there’s a day for almost everything! I’m looking at you – National Nothing Day and Dress Up As Your Pet Day. So today I’m asking: has this led to too much saturation in the creative campaigns space, or do consumers still feel the love for seasonal marketing deep down?

Are Companies Still Using Seasonal Campaigns?

According to Sender, companies have absolutely used Valentine’s Day 2024 to market their products some; with 55% giving product discounts and 26% offering free samples with purchases through email marketing. So e-mail marketing, at least, is not dead in the water.

There’ve also definitely been plenty of Valentine’s-themed messages on social, including from our own clients where it was relevant. From offers, to romantic stories from the company, there have been plenty of opportunities that businesses have seized across all platforms.

Meanwhile, in the guerrilla marketing world, we’ve seen companies offering the chance to ‘scrap your ex’, and M&S launching its ‘naughtiest chocolates yet’.

 

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A post shared by M&S (@marksandspencer)

Despite all this, anecdotally I have to say that the campaigns have dwindled in recent years. I used to write a blog every year about my favourite Valentine’s Day campaigns. This year, I’m not sure I could gather enough material.

And that’s not just for Valentine’s Day marketing, Black Friday seemed to have much less PR buzz last year, than it has in recent years. April Fool’s Day is another that seems to have lost consumer interest.

This has led me to raise a couple of questions – firstly, why is this? And secondly, have holiday campaigns had their day?

Why Are There Less Seasonal Campaigns

As with everything in marketing, of course, there’s no perfect answer.

April Fool’s Day, for example, never seemed to pick back up really after the pandemic, when everyone collectively decided in 2020 and 2021 that nothing in the world was a laughing matter during those times!

Other holidays seem to have generally become less engaging for people as time moves on, 5-10 years ago, we used to love Pancake Day in our household. This year, none of my family really bothered with it!

Then of course there’s my other argument, which is not the fault the days themselves, but the marketers who try to shoehorn businesses into each and every one of them. Black Friday, for example, has just become so inundated with marketing campaigns that it’s hard to spot a genuinely decent offer. It could be that consumers are simply getting tired and switching off to all campaigns – whether they’re relevant or not. And likewise, the brands with good stories to tell, are holding back because they think they won’t be able to cut through.

So have we gone too far, or can we still use holidays and Awareness Days to our advantage in marketing?

Is Seasonal Marketing Still Effective?

Seasonal marketing, whether it be for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or one of the other weird and wonderful Awareness Days we have in our calendar now, has always been pretty effective.

Most marketing strategies will include key dates, and Marketing Week reported that 84% of companies put budget aside for these kinds of things.

The main problem that I mentioned, is that everyone wants to get involved with everything – and that’s ultimately led to the feeling of it all being ‘overdone’. Despite this, I’m still of the opinion that seasonal marketing can absolutely be effective, but only when it’s relevant for your brand.

For example, for our client Combermere Abbey, we like to make a big deal of the fact that it’s a very romantic place to stay, and even has the claim to fame of being named “the most romantic place in all Europe” by the famous Empress Sisi of Austria. Valentine’s Day messaging is ideal for them.

If you want your seasonal marketing to be effective, you should be asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this a day that’s relevant to my brand?
  2. Is it a day that my consumers are likely to be interested in?
  3. Can we add something new to what’s already out there?
  4. Can we diversify the way we’re communicating? (E.g. trying TikTok this year)

If you answer no to any of these, then maybe revert back to the calendar and hold out for something a little more relevant for you. Or, be smart with your messaging. If you can be a little punny, and put our a harmless message that isn’t an aggressive sales tactic, then be creative and give it a go!

In conclusion, yes, seasonal marketing has become a little saturated – but you can help by only contributing where there is relevancy and ensuring that you’re always bringing new ideas to your consumers.

If that all sounds like hard work, and you’d like us to take it off your hands. We’d be more than happy to chat at Source; where we’ve 15+ years of experience in executing the right campaigns for brands and putting marketing strategies together for clients that are timely, relevant and most importantly – work! Send us a message and see. Happy Valentine’s Day 💘

The Power Of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) In PR

CSR or corporate social responsibility is something that businesses of all shapes and sizes are incorporating into their operations and it’s something we like to do with almost all of our clients at Source as it can be an invaluable tool for building a business’ profile.

From conglomerates to regional SMEs, companies are increasingly recognising the importance of integrating positive social and environmental policies into the business.

Whether its reducing plastic waste or funding community projects, CSR initiatives are a great way to build brand reputation and attractiveness to customers but without PR, your good work will be hidden from view.

Here at Source PR, we have the tools and the team to get your positive work out there and really showcase your commitment to worthy causes and ethical operations.

Why should you promote CSR initiatives?

 

Enhancing your industry reputation

CSR initiatives are a great way to demonstrate, to customers and investors, that your business is committed to socially and environmentally sustainable operations, beyond simply profit-making.

By promoting these initiatives through PR in the form of media coverage of social media campaigns, your business can build a positive reputation among key stakeholders and really strengthen your brand image.

These days, it matters to consumers, customers and stakeholders that, as a business, you’re having a positive impact on the world around you and are increasingly conscious of company practice.

In fact, 88% of consumers across the globe would choose to buy from a business that engaged in sustainable practices over ones that didn’t.

Whether it’s an environmental accreditation or a workplace support scheme, these initiatives are definitely worth shouting about!

Getting ahead in a competitive market

One of the key reasons why companies turn to PR agencies is to get ahead of their competition and in a competitive marketplace, CSR can really set you apart from other businesses.

We operate as an extension of your team so we’re able to quickly understand the sector you’re in and utilise key channels such as social media or news publications to showcase your CSR efforts.

This can help to highlight initiatives such as community engagement, approach to operating sustainably or employee welfare and give you an edge over competitors who may be slow off the mark in adopting these practices.

Retaining and attracting talent

Employees are, of course, the most important assets of any company and ensuring that you can retain and attract the best talent is vital to the long-term success of your business.

When it comes to applying for roles, people aren’t necessarily looking at the profits you turned, they want to work for an employer that cares about their employees and operates ethically.

By promoting CSR initiatives through PR, businesses can showcase their commitment to causes such as mental health awareness and employee welfare which will help attract talent.

This can also boost the engagement and job satisfaction of existing employees, which is critical as ultimately, engaged employees are more likely to stay with the company and the high cost of hiring can be minimised.

B2C CSR

Here at Source, our B2C team work closely with clients to develop long-term CSR strategy that can effectively build brand reputation among their target audience and, ultimately, appeal to a more socially and environmentally conscious consumer base.

Miller Homes North West

We’ve enjoyed working with the North West arm of housebuilders Miller Homes for over 10 years and have consistently helped them to operate successful CSR campaigns.

Back in September 2022, Miller introduced its new Community Fund initiative, which was set up to provide community and charity groups across the North West with the opportunity to apply for donations between £250 and £2,000.

We’ve loved playing our part in helping our client to give back to groups and causes that are local to the areas in which Miller are developing.

This campaign has seen the housebuilder make a real difference in communities across the region with donations being made to inspiring schools, vital food banks, and some incredible charities.

We’ve then been able to showcase the amazing work that Miller is doing through the Community Fund, by securing coverage in local media which demonstrates to target audiences that the company is committed to giving back and helping crucial local causes.

Getting this message across helps to build Miller’s reputation among potential customers and ultimately helps to grow the company’s positive brand image.

B2B CSR

Promoting CSR initiatives among B2B companies, is just as important as B2C and that’s why our team work in partnership with clients to develop initiatives that will help the business to attract potential customers and set themselves apart from competition.

Meadow

Meadow, a leading ingredients business, is a company we’ve enjoyed long-lasting partnership with and whose key PR objective is promoting their commitment to operating sustainably.

Sustainability is the business’ top priority and we’ve been on hand to help Meadow communicate key brand messages, such as their decarbonisation strategy, through features, thought leadership pieces and particularly social media.

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, we worked with Meadow to highlight the excellent mental health support initiatives that the company has in place through social media communications on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The social posts reached over 6,000 people during the week and helped to showcase Meadow’s commitment to supporting its employees and partner farmers through support systems like their amazing mental health first aiders.

Social media campaigns such as this one can really help when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent as it demonstrates to employees (and potential employees) that this is a business that cares about the wellbeing of its staff.

If you think the team at Source could help you with your PR or media relations, get in touch!

How To Create A Successful B2B Campaign In 2023

One of the reasons public relations (PR) is such an exciting role to work in is that to thrive in the industry you need to be dynamic and adaptable, and the same can be said for campaigns. When it comes to a B2B PR campaign, first and foremost, it’s vital to know your key messaging and desired outcomes before you even think about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and brainstorming ideas. Let’s explore the fundamentals to creating a successful B2B campaign.

 

First of all, what is B2B PR?

B2B is short for business-to-business and B2B PR is essentially a way of one business communicating with another business. On the other hand, B2C means business to consumer.

So, when it comes to creating a successful B2B PR campaign, what do you need to know?

 

Set objectives

 As mentioned at the start of the blog, before you do anything else it’s important to examine what the desired outcome of the campaign is. Raising awareness of the business is likely to be part of the campaign KPIs, or perhaps it’s a specific issue or topic that the business would like to champion. Maybe you want to build-up your email database, generate interest in an event or up for a webinar or event or increase social media followers. Whatever the campaign objectives it is vital that they are clear from the start.

 

Know your audience and how to target them

Now you have your objectives set, it’s time to delve into your target audiences. For some clients, they may want to reach the key decision makers in a business, for others, maybe it’s a specific company department they need to get in front of. A recent example of this is a campaign we did here at Source for Evolve 4 where we had two very different target customers, food manufacturers and primary schools.

In order to establish exactly who those key audiences should be targeted and therefore how we could create a campaign to reach them, we gathered the team at Evolve and Source together and ran a persona workshop. Though these kinds of workshops can be lengthy, they are important as along with objectives they form the foundations of the campaign.

 

Research and brainstorming for a PR campaign

 The fun part! Now it’s time to gather your team and have a brainstorming session. There’s no one size fits all approach to researching and brainstorming and every agency or business will work individually. A good rule of thumb to live by here is that no idea is a bad idea, give everyone the space to gather their thoughts and ideas, air them, write them down on paper or type them out – whatever works best. This shouldn’t be confined to the office, though. Many of us get our best ideas when on a walk, in the shower or during a conversation with a friend.

 

Channels to use for your PR campaign

 If you work in PR, you’ll have likely heard of the staple PESO model. PESO stands for paid, earned, shared and owned media channels, all of which naturally overlap to generate that integrated campaign. Analysing this model can help to determine which channels you’ll be using for your campaign.

 

Image from spinsucks.com

 

Execution and measurement

Skipping straight to execution and measurement, once you’ve set out what channels you’ll be using during your campaign, you’ll need to actually do the work – that goes without saying! Draft and distribute the press releases, pitching in the feature articles, generate the video content, the list goes on.

Once your campaign is complete it’s time to measure results. Measuring results in PR is famously a sticky point and will depend on which channels you utilised for the campaign and the desired outcomes. At Source we have tools in place such as Ace Media which allows the team to capture and track print and online media coverage, as well as brand mentions, audience and lots more. This is just one example of how we measure success for our client’s B2B campaigns.

There we have it, that was B2B campaigns in a nutshell. If you think our team could help you with your next product launch, profile raising activity or social media content then get in touch.

This Summer’s PR Winners & Losers

It’s been a seismic summer of sport, heatwaves, Love Island drama and political chaos but in amongst that we’ve enjoyed and endured some rather memorable PR and advertising campaigns.

From Crown Paints to Nike, there’s been an abundance of campaigns that have had tongues wagging and brows raised during the last few months.

So as the summer months draw to a close and the return to school becomes ever more imminent, in this week’s blog, we take a look at this season’s PR winners and losers.

The winners

eBay

eBay has enjoyed a stellar summer in PR terms thanks to its partnership with Love Island, with the online auctioning site supplying the contestants’ outfits through its second-hand clothes section.

The sustainable yet fashionable nature of eBay’s second-hand clothing got the perfect platform for exposure in Love Island, with millions tuning in nightly to watch the smash-hit ITV show and, by virtue getting to see the array of outfits.

They rounded off a successful summer by signing up contestant Tasha Ghouri as their official pre-loved clothing ambassador, something which has been well-received and with Ghouri’s 1.4 million followers, there’s a brilliant opportunity for yet more growth.

Weetabix

The popular breakfast has always been clever in its advertising with the slogan ‘they’ve had their Weetabix’ a permanent and successful fixture since the 1990s.

This summer, Weetabix produced some quite brilliant adverts that coincided with the successful women’s European Championships and appeared in the sports sections of major news sites and on billboards across the country.

A masterclass in copywriting, the ads played on Weetabix’s self-created reputation for providing consumers with great strength and were wonderfully simple.

Against the backdrop of the breakfast cereal’s iconic yellow colour scheme, Weetabix produced clever slogans such as “They had theirs” in response to the semi-final win and “crunch time (just add milk)” prior to the final.

This is a genius piece of copywriting that was playful yet latched onto the growing support for the women’s team and interest in the tournament. A brilliant campaign that captured the mood of a hopeful, and eventually ecstatic, nation.

Nike

As the England National Team’s official kit manufacturer, Nike’s slick and rather magnificent marketing team sprang into action to produce a campaign that was simply jaw-dropping.

In the build-up to the tournament the sports brand created an incredible campaign that was the perfect PR stunt for the women’s game.

Members of the Lioness squad were reflected onto Dover’s white cliffs with the powerful accompanying tagline “You’ve Never Seen England Like This” … and they certainly weren’t wrong.

Tower Bridge and Battersea Power Station were among the London landmarks lit up with England players such as Leah Williamson and Lucy Bronze featuring, with the Nike pledge ‘Never Done’ promoting their winning mindset.

Nike accompanied this incredible campaign with an inspiring advert that highlighted their commitment to the women’s game.

This campaign is expected to help the sports brand meet one of its key long-term PR aims, which has been to better connect with women.

The losers

TotalJobs

TotalJobs is an online job board that’s been considered redundant by many on social media for its apparently rage-inducing advert that’s been tarnishing their YouTube experience.

The ad which has generally been confined to online video and streaming platforms has been met with a barrage of criticism and led some to take the stance of “actively boycotting [TotalJobs] because that advert is driving [them] insane.”

 

This particular Twitter user was one of many on the site that commented on the ‘smugness’ of the woman who got the job.

Another commented on how the “creepy, long stare the girl does in the TotalJobs ad on YouTube is enough to put me off using their service.”

It seems that TotalJobs have missed the mark with this campaign and potentially done a bit of damage to their reputation, purely through a perceivably irritating advert.

Instagram

PR-wise, Instagram has had a rather abysmal summer and sadly it’s been a problem of their own making.

The rise of TikTok has led the Meta-owned site scramble to incorporate videos into its feeds and adjusted its algorithm to include more of its reels on users’ feeds.

This has been met with a real backlash by users who are fed up with seeing reels at the expense of their friends and family’s photos, which led to 21-year-old photographer Tati Bruening starting a powerful ‘Make Instagram, Instagram Again’ campaign.

This campaign garnered a lot of support and among its proponents were Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner who shared the graphic on their stories which would’ve reached a large proportion of their 700 million followers.

Back in 2018 $1.3 billion was wiped off the value of Snapchat after Jenner tweeted that she no longer used the app, so Instagram knew that they had to act to avoid a similar disaster.

Loser or winner?

Crown Paints

Crown Paints is an interesting one and plays into an issue that my colleague Jess raised in her recent blog regarding whether all publicity is always good publicity.

In the past, the paint company won exposure through being a shirt sponsor for a football club who play in Anfield during the 1980s and generally have operated low-profile, safe PR campaigns.

However, its risqué ‘Life Stories’ advertising campaign has ensured Crown Paints sits firmly within the contemporary public conscience.

Focusing on the couple ‘Hannah and Dave’ and how they’ve navigated through their relationship, the ad has received numerous complaints and could potentially be investigating by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Many, such as comedian Jenny Éclair, took to social media to voice their displeasure at Crown Paints’ commercial, particularly, the lyrics “now a baby’s coming and they don’t know what it is” and “Hannah’s hoping for a girl, Dave’s just hoping that it’s his.”

The ad has been labelled “offensive”, “misogynistic” and a “serious error of judgement”.

Éclair added that it essentially insinuated that Hannah had “conned” Dave into fatherhood.

However, others enjoyed the ad and dismissed criticism as simply an over-sensitive reaction to a humorous take on modern relationships.

Whatever your thoughts on the advert, arguably Crown Paints’ brand awareness has never been higher and there’s no denying that it’s wedged the Darwen-based business firmly in people’s minds.

So, have they had a PR disaster or triumph this summer? I guess that’s up to you but I’d say they’ve snuck into the triumph realm purely by winning unprecedented brand awareness.

 

Our Take On The Latest Social Advertising Bans

The news broke last week that adverts promoting cosmetic procedures to under-18-year-olds have been banned in the UK. And that got us thinking… Is blacklisting the best way to eliminate controversial campaigns?

 

According to The Guardian, adverts promoting “breast enlargement, nose jobs and liposuction at under-18s” are included in the crackdown, which was orchestrated by the UK advertising watchdog.

 

Where won’t they be?

 

The new rules, which come into force from May 2022, bar these ads from appearing on all media outlets, from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, to billboards, posters, and newspapers. Magazines and radio are also subject to this new legislation, and influencers don’t get off scot-free either – they can no longer advertise to young, impressionable audiences.

 

Why has this happened?

 

Over the last ten years, the rise of social media, reality TV shows and the ‘influencer’ have led to more and more of us striving to achieve unattainable physiques, looks, and even new personality traits.

 

The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is quite apt here, and, sadly, many of the companies and individuals advertising these products and procedures have, in some cases, taken advantage of their younger audiences.

 

Arguably, we’ve all become a lot more impressionable throughout the pandemic because all we’ve been able to do is scroll and chat online. We’ve spent time looking into other people’s lives, routines, and health and fitness regimes on the socials to distract ourselves from the external circumstances, like the pandemic.

 

Has anything else changed?

 

Yes. Not only are companies unable to advertise their cosmetic procedures, but private doctors also aren’t allowed to practice them either. If they continue carrying out cosmetic operations to under-18s, they’re at risk of going to jail and paying fines.

 

Is this the first time this has happened?

 

This isn’t the first-time adverts and marketing campaigns have gotten out of hand. First, it was tobacco companies with the Tobacco Advertising & Promotion Act 2002 that prohibited tobacco products from advertising and sponsorship, and then more recently fast food and ‘junk food’ industries have been told to put a muzzle on their television and online advertising campaigns after 9 pm starting from 2023.

 

By implementing this latest ban, the UK government hopes it can reduce the obesity crisis and lower the number of people eating late in the day. The online aspect of the ban affects all aspects of paid online marketing, such as Facebook ads and promotions on Instagram.

 

 Are bans like these a good idea?

 

Yes, I think so. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some great campaigns in the past connected with food, cars, and even cigars and makeup. But, in the olden days, once you switched off the television or radio, they were gone. Now, they make their way into our inboxes, social media direct messages, and into our SMS messages.

 

These bans will prevent younger people from being too heavily influenced by their idols and feeling under pressure to purchase a product, or undergo a potentially costly and unnecessary procedure, to be relevant or to ‘fit in’.

 

7 Times ‘Squid Game’ Impacted Marketing Campaigns – For Better or Worse

The South Korean mega-hit ‘Squid Game,’ Netflix’s most popular show ever (officially!), hasn’t just been dominating streaming figures, conversation, and online memes – it’s also been leaving a cultural footprint on the marketing world, too.

 

The show isn’t for everyone: it’s action-packed but ultraviolent, and, despite moments of light-heartedness, can make for heavy watching. Despite this, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon – and it’s little wonder businesses are hopping on the trend wherever possible.

 

However, as ‘Squid Game’ is a very clear critique of what show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk describes as the ‘extreme competition’ of ‘modern capitalism’ – which has strong echoes of ‘Parasite,’ the South Korean Oscar-winning film by Bong Joon-ho – a misjudgement may have been made by some marketing teams on exactly what the appeal of Squid Game is: and, crucially, why their product might not be apt for a themed campaign.

 

Below, we’ve put together the good and the not-so-good ‘Squid Game’ campaigns…

 

The Good

 

 

Food websites and bloggers alike have jumped at the opportunity to provide recipes for South Korean food featured in Squid Game. This include Delish’s recipe for Dalgona Candy, used in Episode 3 of the show, a simple but effective way of catching the attention of those looking to try the sweet treat. There’s also Kcal, a Glasgow-based restaurant that has come up with its own Dalgona-inspired pancakes: if you can cut the shape out using only your knife without breaking it, they’re yours for free! We think this is a genius way of involving the fun in their food – and definitely less dire consequences than in the show…

 

 

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A post shared by Kcal Kitchen Glasgow (@kcalkitchen)

 

Along with the ‘Good’ are the extremely cute Squid Game pet costumes on Etsy – which come in both contestant and guard form. As any pet owner knows, some of our furry friends are bloodthirsty enough, so it’s more than fitting to have them join in the fun…especially as Halloween is right around the corner.

 

Via Bustle.com

 

Heineken’s use of the star in its logo is also another inventive and interesting way of hopping on the bandwagon; similarly, competitor Budweiser imposed their logo into a Dalgona biscuit (not quite as ingenious, but some quick thinking nonetheless).

 

There’s also debt management company Relief, who used the craze to print and distribute 10,000 lookalike business cards that have the now-infamous shapes across the front of the card. On the back reads: ‘There’s a better way to get out of debt.’

 

Via The Drum

 

 

No matter how successful it may be, the nature of a TV craze like ‘Squid Game’ means that it’s a flash in the pan moment – here today, gone tomorrow – meaning brands have to think on their feet to come up with a campaign both fitting and eye-catching.

 

This sometimes can, unfortunately, mean that companies don’t take enough time to correctly judge the tone and meaning behind exactly what’s got the public in a frenzy about a certain piece of media. Which brings us on to…

 

The Not-So-Good

 

With ‘Squid Game’ being a show about characters crippled by debt – the very reason they sign up to the game in the first place – there couldn’t be a more inappropriate campaign than by Klarna, the payment company that allows users to pay in instalments.

 

Via Twitter

 

 

The company was fired at on social media after sending out a push notification offering customers to pay for ‘Squid Game’-themed costumes…in instalments. This controversial system of payment has also recently been under fire recently after a Facebook advertisement for Zilch went viral: a company that provides instalment payment plans for takeaways such as Domino’s and Papa Johns.

 

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the idea of promoting this kind of app, in association with a show that depicts debt problems as so debilitating that desperate individuals would choose fighting to the death rather than overcoming it, is a bit of a misguided move.

 

Though Klarna does not charge fees or interest to users, it has been compared to payday loan companies for its encouragement of overspending. According to the Guardian, ‘The debt charity StepChange says it has an increasing number of clients who have money owing on “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) among their debts when they turn to it for help. Klarna is easily the largest BNPL player in the UK market.’

 

It’s a no-brainer: though it might take a bit more time, ultimately, weighing up whether or not your brand actually fits in with the latest viral craze or not is far more beneficial than a temporary hop on the bandwagon that might get you into hot water. It’s tempting to fire at all cylinders in accordance with the online chatter, but, as Klarna have found, that’s not always the wisest move.

 

My colleague Jess recently wrote a blog debunking the myth that you’re only as good as your last 30 days of PR. In it, she suggests that the pressure of hopping onto trends may lead to only half-hearted efforts – and, crucially, that the best campaigns always take a bit of time. And that’s ok.

 

At Source, we’d love to help you and your business with all things marketing, digital and PR. Head to our contact page or drop us a line on 01829 720 789 today to speak to one of our team.

 

 

 

Was The Social Media Blackout A Good Thing?

Last week, the world experienced a six-hour social media blackout. The three social media giants: Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, all crashed at once. Disaster! In light of this this, and other semi-apocalyptic events that have happened over the past 18-months, many thought this was another sign of humanity’s untimely demise!

But thankfully, it wasn’t.

Our thumbs were spared from scrolling while Mark Zuckerberg delved into what went wrong at Facebook, the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp. After some tinkering on the Monday night, he got the planet’s scrollers scrolling again by Tuesday morning.

According to BBC News, the outage was caused by “an internal technical issue which took Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram offline at about 16:00 GMT on Monday.” After this, what we’d like to know is whether you think temporary social media shutdowns are a good idea? Drastic I know, but hear us out…

 

The Idea of a Social Shutdown

What if, for two months out of 12 every year, the social media giants went quiet, and we were all logged out?

After a couple of years of only being able to interact with each other on our phones, we can certainly see the benefits of social media, and admittedly a blackout would be a challenge. Over the last couple of years, social media outlets have enabled us to continue to communicate with our friends and family from all over the world.

Businesses also rely heavily on social media to promote products or services. But this still risks creating a revenue shortage because there’s no one to advertise to. And, following the outage, the BBC revealed that Zuckerberg himself might have lost in the region of £4.4bn, while Facebook’s shares dropped by almost 5%.

So maybe it isn’t a good idea after all. But what if there was a way of solely targeting private social media users? Stay with us…

 

Would Routine Blackouts Work?

So, the financial implications for some companies are quite severe… Granted. But, if we take another look at the human side of things, ditching our social platforms for a while has been proven to help people’s mental health.

According to Parade.com, ceasing to use social media can cause people to feel anxious at first, and some even develop withdrawal symptoms. But, after a couple of weeks, your mental health should improve. Parade states that “studies have shown a direct correlation between depression and excessive social media use.”

After interviewing Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, Parade found that of “6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S, those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems.”

 

The Key? Focus On Yourself

Finally, I feel like the most compelling reason why we should all be forced to take a break from social media every now and again is because of comparing ourselves with others. This can cause disillusionment with your own life, and you can start to doubt yourself, which is a pretty precarious situation to be in.

Even though many of the ideas discussed above will not come to fruition anytime soon, the message to take away from this blog is that social media, unless you use it to make a living, shouldn’t be the be all and end all.

What do you think?