Tag Archives: letter

A child Picasso gives Waitrose a helping hand

26 Aug

20140430-231008.jpgThey say the ‘kids are all right’. But, the phrase should be the kids are always right. Earlier this year a little girl wrote a letter to Lego complaining that boys had all the fun because they got the chance to play the hero, whereas female figures had limited prospects sunbathing on the beach or relaxing at the beauty parlour. Lego listened and promptly launched a limited edition set of inspirational female scientists that have sold out in stores in the US.

Now, seven-year old Harry Deverill, from Dorset, has taken it upon himself to redesign Waitrose’s bottle of brown sauce. He couldn’t work out what the current picture was meant to be, so supplied the supermarket chain with three alternatives. And, as a result, it’s replaced its essential range’s brown sauce label with one of his images.

It was always going to be a success.

Up-market supermarket Waitrose, which previously slid to PR success, has not only shown that it listens to its customers’ suggestions (note suggestion, not complaint), but that it’s also open to change. And, in doing so, has proved that it understands good PR.

I’m sorry Harry but, in the foodservice industry, updating packaging that has existed from the beginning of time is not high on its list of priorities. After all, it’s got shelf space, profit margins and new products – such as Curiosity Cola, Birds Eye Mas#Tags and Warburtons – to contend with. But, in spite of all this, it knows that putting a call into its printing factory is worth generating content for its own publications (Waitrose Kitchen and Waitrose Weekend) and national consumer titles such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Metro.

Although, this wouldn’t be Prime Time if I couldn’t find a way to critique the perfect PR stunt.

Taking a proper look at the previous label’s artwork I can conclude that it’s bad – really bad. Why Waitrose has been precious about it for so long is beyond me. So, why not extend the opportunity and launch a competition for other children to submit their designs for its essentials range? I appreciate that redesigning the entire collection might be a bit much, but it could start with the condiments and table sauces and work it’s way through the shop slowly.

This will generate even more content for the brand to roll out across its:

a) Social media channels
Competition entry galleries where fans are encouraged to vote for their favourite image.

b) Marketing magazines
Features on the children behind the winning designs.

c) TV shows
PR through cookery demonstration discussions.

A competition would also lend itself to a local PR campaign in hotspot areas, with the results transitioning into advertising slogans.

It’s come this farand I salute Waitrose for its willing gesture. But, it doesn’t have to be a one-hit wonder. Keep the momentum going by involving more customers and sit back and enjoy the results.

What do you think?

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Coca-Cola loses its fizz after insulting customer

22 Sep

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Have you heard the one about Coca-Cola calling one of its customers a ‘retard‘ via its latest promotion?

Ok, maybe you haven’t because it happened in Canada. But here’s what happened:

Blake Loates bought home a bottle of Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water earlier this week and she was in for a shock when she unscrewed the cap, which read ‘You Retard’ on the inside. Some people may have found it funny (personally I don’t, and even less so coming from a global brand) but Blake certainly didn’t because her sister suffers from cerebral palsy.

Her father wrote a letter of disgust forcing Coca-Cola to own up to its politically incorrect mistake – which it did quite well. But the reason the brand manager (or PR) cited for the inappropriate wording was a language mix up (‘retard’ meaning ‘delayed’ or ‘late’ in French), which relates a wider promotion the brand was running.

The fact that more people may have or will continue to open up the phrase before the manufacturing process is discontinued is shocking – and the fact that Coca-Cola has undone its apology to the family, by not noticing the mistake long before it went public, is dumb.

There’s some small-scale crisis management to be done now, in my opinion, because consumers won’t remember the story being a water bottle lid ‘lost in translation’, it’ll become ‘Coca-Cola calls cerebral palsy teenager a retard’. But for some reason the drinks company has put this issue to the bottom of its ‘to do’ list as it looks to push ahead with its international obesity campaign.

Of course a stunt like this won’t damage a brand like that, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t show empathy. I’d have liked to have seen Coca-Cola show some personality by making the Loates family feel like a valued customer and sending some freebies. Essentially, the company needs the family to publicly say the right things to override the negative comments so everyone can see that the situation was dealt with.

This time, Coca-Cola might not have lost its bottle with the complaint, but it’s certainly lost its fizz.

Would this bad PR put you off your favourite soft drink?

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