Tag Archives: complain

Royal Mail fails as brands attempt to cash in on World Cup buzz

12 Jun

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Call me naive (although I’d prefer it if you called me Donna*), but I didn’t even realise until this week that postal officers could refuse to deliver mail that they deemed offensive. But they can, and they did, when they were handed the latest issue of marketing magazine The Drum.

The front cover included the F-bomb, in large font, as part of a creative design tying in with the World Cup which kicks off today. (Go Belgium, thanks to my sweep stake pick). But, context aside, according to the Royal Mail, the subscription-only trade publication failed to comply with the company’s T&Cs of avoiding ‘offensive, obscene or threatening language’.

So, knowing what I know now, I’m not sure why I was surprised to read again today that there are reports of postal staff – possibly Royal Mail, possibly not – refusing to deliver a special edition of The Sun in the North West. A blow to the UK’s largest newspaper after it invested in creating a one-off paper celebrating ‘Englishness’ to celebrate the launch of that football tournament. There’s a pattern emerging here, don’t you think?

Reaching 22 million people across the UK and not a Page 3 model in sight, The Sun had already pre-empted a negative reaction from Liverpool, so decided against distributing there, as a result of the newspaper’s Hillsborough football disaster coverage. But, reports are circulating that elsewhere in the North of England – including Runcorn, St Helens, Skelmersdale and Ellesmere Port – that postal staff wouldn’t agree to deliver in these areas if asked.

At a time when the print journalism industry is struggling to stay alive, because consumers are choosing to eat their news and views in more convenient digital bites, I’m surprised that delivery companies like the Royal Mail are turning their back on print partners. Surely, these corporate contracts – whether they’re one-off projects on long-term – are their bread and butter. And, without them they’ll just go hungry! Particularly if their hunger pangs come down to language preference, like in The Drum’s case.

It’s for the end consumer to make the complaint and, if they’re offended, the issue (no pun intended) should be taken up with the company responsible: the publisher, not the carrier.

FIFA has enough PR problems to deal with around this global event, besides whether its ‘brand’ can even be delivered to the right people. It needs to focus on protecting its image against rumours that half-built stadiums will be half empty, as well as the news that the Brazilian army has been asked to drive lingering drug lords out of local favelas.

Let’s hope these latest Royal Mail fails don’t reflect too badly on the tournament.

*That bad joke proves I am my mother’s child, just in case anyone was wondering.

The Drum editor says 'F@£! It' to Royal Mail over F-bomb front cover

The Drum editor says ‘F@£! It’ to Royal Mail over F-bomb front cover

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Macmillan strikes it lucky with tube tweet

30 Apr

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Relax. The tube strikes are over…for now. But, in the few days they caused chaos in the capital, they had a great publicist: front page of the Evening Standard, infographics and a hashtag! It’s a hat-trick that PRs like me can only dream of.

But, while you were complaining/celebrating/not caring (delete as appropriate) about how industrial action brought London to a standstill, some charities were planning a clever social media campaign.

Macmillan Cancer Support piggybacked off Twitter’s ‘tubestrikes’ hashtag to promote its services, accompanied with a simple graphic using the iconic London Underground key. Meanwhile, Save the Children put the disruptions into perspective by comparing the ‘madness’ in London to Syria.

Macmillan’s tweet may only have been retweeted 140 times, but it had wit, talkability and relevance on its side adding to its pulling power (despite it repeatedly tweeting the image to different media outlets in quick succession – a no no for me as mentioned in this blog.)

In the same fashion, Save the Children’s infographic scores highly on the shareability scale because it summarises an issue in an instant. So, it’s no surprise it’s caught the attention of BBC, The Independent and the Daily Mirror to name a few.

But, these tweets aren’t successful because they’ve been seen thousands of times in the last day. They’re successful because they’ve raised awareness of the charity at zero cost – a ‘quick win’ result that a PR, marketing or social media agency just can’t contend with.

With tube strikes set to land in London again next week, expect other organisations to jump on the bandwagon (remember all those #nomakeupselfie variations?) But one thing’s for sure – it won’t be as innovative the second time round.

What do you think of these mini campaigns?

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X-rated car advert gets tongues wagging

31 Jul

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It’s a brand’s worst nightmare – an advert appears in print complete with a big mistake. No, not an incorrect spelling or wrong call to action. Either of those could easily be resolved with the help of a PR agency. Car hire firm Enterprise has had to deal with something much worse: an advert in the Pembrokeshire Herald, published last week, suggested that the firm offers inappropriate sex acts for customers. See the advert here.

To add insult to injury, the advert went hand-in-hand with the company’s Twitter launch. Although, this might be its saving grace. When the incident was spotted yesterday, Enterprise only had 61 followers – all of which were told that the service is ‘not offered at any of its branches.’

Twenty-four hours later that number has only risen by 13 – and the brand has responded to everyone that commented offering its single crisis-management message.

Of course, it’s not like the age old saying ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no-one’s there does it make a sound?’ Customers – existing and potential – are likely to hear about this via social networks or friends (the Mirror has already published the story too) But, when it comes to Twitter, I think people are less likely to get involved if they don’t think they can directly link with the brand. After all, that’s one big reason we make comments online isn’t it? To humiliate, complain or praise companies that we’re engaging with. The fact that few people knew about Enterprise’s Twitter page at that time has curbed the majority of comments.

I think the brand handled the process well. Although, I’d have suggested that they tailored their responses to show personality and a sense of humour. After all, the advert is clearly a joke.

At the time of writing this, I asked the Pembrokeshire Herald what its thoughts were and whether the error was from their side. According to reports they maintain the artwork was tampered with after it’d been signed off – and other brands were affected.

Surely, Enterprise will want an apology from the team if it was the paper’s fault – not to mention free advertising space to overright the problem.

However it progresses, this faux pas has certainly worked in Enterprise’s favour – in terms of PR and talkability. After reading this article how many hire car companies can you really think of?

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