F,C,K, M and E Marks and Spencer!

Ooooohhhh La La…Marks and Sparks what a naughty blunder on your website, or was it?

Those seeking a Christmas bargain this week got a message they weren’t expecting when looking for letter ornaments on the Marks and Spencer website. The letters appeared in the order of F, C, K, M and E with a U in the row above when price low to high was selected.

Now of course the Marks and Spencer PR team were out immediately in full force with a spokeswoman who denies any intention behind it and provided a pretty standard PR crisis statement – ‘This was due to the algorithms used to display products on our website. It was quickly spotted and corrected.’ – Yawn!

But it wasn’t removed quickly enough before the public got their hands on it and for it to go viral now was it ?!

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Hmm, a mistake?! I’m sceptical. This is a way for Marks and Spencer to start their Christmas campaign early and achieve some pre-campaign hype of the humorous and cheeky kind, whether it was intentional or not.

This is an example of viral marketing (Excuse me M and S Lawyers, this could be an example of…) where social media is harnessed through a PR stunt to increase brand awareness.

There is so much to gain from such a little gaff. The Christmas PR and advertising race has become iconic, a top earner and a competition like no other among the big retailers. Although it isn’t appropriate to start the Christmas adverts yet, this sort of mistake, regardless of intention, has now given Marks and Spencer a platform to build on. They already have the consumer’s attention, an edge above it’s competitors prior to the prime Christmas advertising months. It’s a smart PR move, I mean mistake! 😉

Project 256 – Street art to help the homeless

Technology has brought us humans so many good things. We can communicate. We are entertained. We are safer. We are progressing, developing and continually learning. But, it also gives us a greater power to help others.

Project 256, co-ordinated by Chris Courtney, has been created to give a voice back to the homeless through art and technology. It wants to change the perception of giving to the homeless and prevent homeless people from becoming shunned or invisible.

First of all a street artist paints a huge image of the homeless person in a prominent public position with a unique QR code and a web-link. The web-link shows you a video about the homeless person featured and the QR code is linked to a Bitcoin wallet that belongs to the homeless person in the portrait.

A donation can be made that is both direct and instantly received.  The homeless person is supplied with a phone for them to be able to utilise the donations. This means you know the donated money is going directly to help that person to buy food or shelter for the night, or to save for larger purchases.

The homeless person isn’t dependent on being there to receive the donation and I can imagine that this could make donations more consistent and reliable? I guess we will see as the project unfolds!

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Check out Herakut’s website

The project is starting in London and Paris where there is a lot of free wi-fi available on the street. However the project hasn’t been without its teething problems. Initially the phones were quickly sold to make instant cash. However, now the phone is looked after by the street artist or a volunteer for up to a month with the hope that the homeless person will understand that it will provide an income with potential long term benefits.

The artist’s image makes it a positive talking point and individual stories can be followed. Columbo was the first man in Britain to be featured. He has been painted in Shoreditch, in East London by Bom.K. and can be seen at the top of this page as the main article image and below.

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Columbo by Bom.K.

Art is being used to PR the cause, to tell a story and change people’s perceptions. There is a story, a person, a life behind the homeless person you donate to, a story told through beautiful street art imagery and amazing advances in technology. But most importantly this facilitates the ability to be able to help.

The more I learn about PR, the more I see it as a glue that holds projects together, it has the ability to create a platform where it can help to inform, educate and facilitate. PR is powerful. It comes in various forms and functions.

Follow the project!

Creative Campaigns #6 – The trailer for Dismaland

So my next thing to tickle your creative tastebuds has to be the trailer that Banksy released today for Dismaland! I know – I’m obsessed. Dismaland is my cup of tea, so why not celebrate the things you like?

The video follows a family, who start at the breakfast table and is questioned by a narrative that asks ‘is there something missing in your life?’.

They then head to the park to experience a classic rip-off of Disney’s infamous tag line ‘the happiest place on Earth’ but then experience all sorts of ‘dismal’  happenings once there.

It’s a creative rip off of the Disney TV adverts and is the perfect homage to his bemusement park and the extremely on point art works which pick up topical provocative political and cultural themes.

Watch it here:

 

 

 

 

It’s anything but Dismaland!

My five am start, two and half hour drive and four and a half hour queue time to ensure my feet were one of the first across the threshold at Dismaland paid off…

I was in!

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*Spoiler Alert: Go no further! I haven’t put many images up that are new and not in the press because I don’t believe in ruining it for others, but there are a couple. If you want to go and don’t want to ruin it for yourself, look no further!*

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The pre-opening ticket PR hype did nothing to quell my excitement, and I was not disappointed. Not one little bit!

The staff are purposefully rude, abrupt and non-responsive, but in such a humourous way that I got an exceptional fit of the giggles as we passed through the fake security entrance. Of course they had been told to do that, but the innocent childish laughter kept coming. Cardboard scanners and CCTV and other props were incredible, polished off by the outstanding performance by the staff who ‘interrogated’ you. After a hilariously impressive start I went through the door half-expecting it to end there but there were more staff to hand out leaflets, only they made it intentionally difficult for you to take a map from their hand, or just stood there looking at you blankly full of disdain. None of them broke character, not once and it totally made the experience.

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Don’t look now…

I found it a visual over load, with so much detail that I took a lot of time taking it all in. It was a magnificent triumph, Banksy had successfully curated a wide array of art and put the artists together to create one fluid and coherent installation. He created this from scratch in under six months, it was seriously impressive.

Having the PR ‘stunt’ fit in line with the event/attraction/installation (well, it is all three!) was the perfect way to promote the event and keep it in line with the mission behind the installation.

The art itself, predominantly installations, were deliberately thought provoking and challenged perceptions. Here’s a peek at some of the works…


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IMG_7753It’s a great place for creative thought, perhaps it suggests a way for public relations to come at things from a different angle too. The stakeholders in attendance were a large cross-section of society, some where there because of the hype, the attraction, the installation, to look cool, to be an activist, an anarchist, an artist…

Every sort of person was there and international languages rippled across the air. Stereotypes didn’t really work here, it had a strange mass appeal. Perhaps it’s because Banksy’s works aren’t aimed at one person, they are aimed at everyone, to challenge everyone’s thoughts and what is fundamentally right and wrong.

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With love from Dismaland! xxx  

It was anything but Dismal! We had a wonderful time, and I seriously suggest you go and experience not only the fun side, but the elements which make you challenge your thoughts and ideas on difficult topics.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to Exit through the Gift Shop…

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Dismaland – the UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction!

Bravo Banksy, Bravo!

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Well he know’s how to make a point and generate a ton of PR for his art installation.

Dismaland plays on the Disnification of our society and the post-modern, consumerist generation.

The inability to buy tickets for his latest installation has set the social media sphere on fire. ‘I want tickets now’, ‘I NEED Dismaland tickets’ and ‘how on earth do I get a ticket to Dismaland?’ have rendered the internet truly dismal.

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The calendar which is actually a JPG!

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This is as far as I can get in the ticket buying process!

But you, probably like me, realised the hypocrisy of his ‘fight capitalism, buy a ticket to the show’ and as a result there are no tickets…the trolley logo remains upside down…empty.

I get the joke, I see the point being made.

I still click on it, I still press F5 and I have done, like a mad-woman, all day, since 6am. I have become all-consumed, the desire of wanting to see some real-life Banksy, not vandalised or removed by others is just too great despite knowing it will be fruitless.

If I know how ridiculous I am being you may ask… ‘Why are you still trying to purchase a ticket?’

For me, this is easy to answer. I want to see one of the greatest living artists of our time. One who brought a ‘criminal act’ in to popular culture as proper art, more so than any other graffiti artist. His clever takes on topical issues such as politics, migration, money, love, slavery, popular media and relationships say things that often people cannot. He’s travelled the world to do timely works in places like the Gaza Strip. He has almost retained complete anonymity (thanks Daily Mail for ruining that one by the way, for that I will never forgive you! For anyone not in the UK, one of our national papers went out of its way to uncover Banksy’s identity. Which, of course, I’m still furious about all these years later. Anyway, I digress…).

I would like to see Banksy’s new works, along those with the other artists he has involved. I missed his last show and although watching all these comments online are funny, ultimately what this masks are my feelings of disappointment. I am a long-standing Banksy fan. I am your stakeholder Banksy and I understand what you stand for, I get the big point you are making with the UK’s most disappointing bemusement park. But, at the same time, despite knowing this, I can’t stop my own personal disappointment, a feeling I probably share with many of your actual fans who’d like to see your new exhibit. If you don’t let the other kids play, where’s the fun in that? And other than thought provoking, it is meant to be fun, right?

The thought that I may miss another of your shows makes me think that the once accessible to all Banksy is not accessible anymore. You are not offering entry-level anarchism if no one can actually gaze upon your musings. If I am thinking this, is anyone else?

Now I, along with everyone else trying to obtain tickets have become the joke, I’d be careful how you play this one team Banksy because it could ultimately turn some of your real fans against you. (I doubt many but it’s a consideration, and we are looking at this from a PR point here!)

I understand the attraction will most likely be open on a first-come-first-serve basis in an attempt to further fuel demand and exclusivity, which in essence Banksy makes you a teenie, tiny bit like those capitalists and consumerists you mock, you are engaging in a PR and sales strategy that is as old as time. Supply and demand, just without the money element. Not that people aren’t willing to pay, fake prices on Ebay have been estimated at £3000 and people on Twitter have been offering to pay over the odds for the tickets which apparently are going to be £3 each.


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It’s a wonderful PR stunt, in line with the Banksy values, that has engaged such a large audience in such a short space of time, perhaps he shouldn’t let it go too far though. Banksy’s popularity is based on his talent, us ticket purchasers have learnt our lesson but we’d still like to see your art.

Despite all the rumours of a hoax, I’m going to risk it. So I am hovering with my bag packed ready for an early morning two hour pilgrimage to the arse end of the South West…Weston-super-Mare. Wish me luck fellow Banksy fans, will I be jilted at the Dismaland gate or will I be revelling in entry level anarchism? Watch this space…

Banksy

 

 

 

 

Creative Campaigns #5: Another incredible Air New Zealand Safety Video starring the All Blacks

What do you get when you combine Air New Zealand, the All Blacks and the Men in Black?

Awesomeness.

Stakeholder Engagement.

And an instant social media viral sensation.

What Air New Zealand is doing is focusing on an important safety feature that is often overlooked and bringing attention to it through a series of cool parody videos that engage a wide demographic. It uses popular culture and topical events, the classic film and the fact there is a Rugby World Cup just around the corner, to make you pay attention to the important safety features you would usually ignore at the beginning of your flight. And this is why it’s a cracking creative campaign. If you don’t know about this campaign, I wrote about it before for Air New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings Safety Video, so take a look for another cracking safety video and for ideas of how to make something dull and necessary into something fun and engaging. Enjoy!

Creative Campaigns #4: Where’s Wally? The UK hunt begins with Virgin!

In a bid to engage the six-week family summer holiday crowd Virgin have created a campaign to promote its summer train ticket deals and it is brilliant. I mean it hits the marker on so many levels, stakeholders, engagement and the fun-factor.

I’m not sure what kid wouldn’t like this. I was and am a fan of Where’s Wally, opting for the inconspicuous  iPhone app rather than a book broadcasting my ‘finding fun’ now that I’m at an age where others can frown upon it.

Anyway, I could easily go off topic here. Virgin have hidden pictures of Wally all around country and on their various forms of transport (trains and planes!) to liven up the tedious journeys that every summer holiday inevitably has. Making adults sigh with relief as they can distract, I mean encourage their youngsters to be eagle-eyed to spot the illusive Wally.

This is a PR campaign that’s aiming for summer longevity – we are half way through the academic summer break and this is the first I’ve heard of it and I’ve been to London quite a few times. I’m in PR, I read every paper going every morning and am signed up to more news feeds than I can possibly get through and I had not heard a thing about it until I went looking for my next creative campaign to write about. This is a great campaign Virgin – more promotion please, don’t waste this cracking idea. You’ve got commuter towns, all with young families heading to the big smoke for some summer entertainment, who would love to take part in this.

It’s difficult at the best of times to get something that will both amuse the kids and adults all at once. Virgin have also created a competition, so if you take a photo of the found Wally and use the hashtag #FoundWally you are entered to win a luxury weekend away in London. Winning entertainment for the kids, and a possible actual win for the adults. Engagement all round. Nice one Virgin.

Now just get a wriggle on and get it out to the masses, because I for one am off to grab my godsons as an excuse to go hunting for Wally! Find Wally this summer with Virgin!Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 21.58.54

Save things to read later on Facebook!

We’ve all been there, something really interesting comes up on your Facebook newsfeed but you don’t have time to read it. Later you can’t find it as it’s so far down your newsfeed that it’s disappeared for good.

Well fret no more, Facebook has come up with a feature that really deserves more attention, the save function.

Save that article for later by clicking the top right arrow on the article, a drop down menu will appear and from that click save!

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 23.42.15To find it later, click the top left ‘F’ button…

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Then look down the left hand menu to see ‘Saved’, click on it and ‘Et Voila!’ every article you have saved is safely stored here for you to read at your leisure.

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Click Saved to open!

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Now you won’t miss a thing! Happy reading fellow Facebookers!

 

How did this happen in 2015 Glamour Magazine?

Well this is a lesson in PR if ever I saw one. Unless you are creating a witty parody on what not to do in a situation, the likes of which you see successfully done in Vanity Fair and Tatler, then this sort of article is just asking for trouble.

There is a PR lesson here. ‘Epic fail’ are the words that spring to mind, but it’s all about how you recover. I mean, try not to make these mistakes in the first place, but if you do it’s time for some crisis management to take place to rescue or limit damage to your reputation. Your reputation is very important don’t underestimate its power, protect it to protect your integrity and the trust between you and your stakeholders.

So if you missed this, I’d like to draw your attention to the outrageous article posted by Glamour Magazine entitled ’13 things that can make a man fall for you’. As if modern dating isn’t hard enough than offering some ridiculously manipulative tactics to ‘lock down’ a guy (their words not mine!). Anyway, angry girl rant over.

Vice, in response, wrote a very funny article totally shredding Glamour to pieces, well done Vice. It was mockery at its finest and my oh my they had some material to work with.

Read Vice’s article, which includes the original Glamour article.

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Vice puts Glamour in it’s place!

Glamour in response to the online back lash they received from the general public and other publications such as Vice, removed the article and replaced it with a pretty good apology, openly admitted their fault.

Read what the Glamour article now says.

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Glamour’s apology !

When you are in a crisis and are caught very clearly red handed, then being honest and saying sorry can stop the back lash in its foot steps. Clear, honest and concise communication goes a long way. It was also dealt with swiftly, time is of the essence.

I think my biggest question is why did Jillian Kramer write this for Glamour in the first place? Was she given a brief – just another page filler? Or did she come up with the idea? Did no one really think this would not cause uproar amongst the female population? How did this make it past the editors? This really concerns me when it is a popular magazine with so much influence on a young female demographic. What are your thoughts?

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