Adidas, there’s no U in Colombia!

Adidas, there’s no U in Colombia!

Proof reading and checking spelling are basics in PR, something that is done every day. Spelling is such an easy thing to get wrong. Some would argue whether it really matters? Does it? Of course. A simple spelling or grammar mistake has the power to bring a brand to it’s knees through causing offence, changing meaning and looking unprofessional.

This month global brand Adidas made a spelling blunder on their latest advertising campaign. Adidas have a lucrative sponsorship deal with Colombia which includes supplying club kit for the Copa America, an international football tournament in the United States this month. Despite the five year partnership between the brand and the country, Adidas spelt Colombia with a U.

You can’t help but feel for the people that created this, read it, probably re-read it and signed off on the final copy. A one letter mistake that changes everything and offends a whole nation.

Adidas went straight in to crisis-mode and swiftly removed the offensive advertising and issued the following statement: “We value our partnership with the Colombian Football Federation and apologize for our mistake. We removed these graphics and are quickly installing new versions today.”  Honest, concise and apologetic, a great crisis statement.

From a PR perspective Adidas have done all that they can to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Let’s hope the Colombian Football Federation and football-supporters of Colombia are feeling forgiving.

The PR lesson is a clear and obvious one. Always check the copy yourself, get as many people you can to proof it and always refer to books and Google if in any doubt. A good tip that was given to me was to avoid approving copy in a rush, take your time, mistakes are harder to correct once they are out there in the world for all to see. I find it best if I leave something over night and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Read more about this situation and different media perspectives here:

One website has found a twitter user who wants to take their revenge by supporting ‘Abidas’, the knock off version of Adidas, that is apparently popular in Colombia. Read the article here at remezcla.com.

Have you made any PR or advertising spelling mistakes that you are willing to share? What do you think about this one? Do you think Adidas have done enough to remedy the situation? Share your take on the situation in the comments box.

F,C,K, M and E Marks and Spencer!

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! 😉

I get knocked down, but I get up again! – PR, rugby and concussion.

I get knocked down, but I get up again! – PR, rugby and concussion.

Rugby’s recent hot topic was how George North’s concussion was dealt with, which resulted in concerns being raised about whether appropriate action was taken and its impact on Rugby Union’s reputation.

Paul Rees wrote an excellent article for the Guardian (12 February) that sums this up perfectly. He states that the future of the players and sport depends on action being taken to treat concussion with the importance it deserves.

You can Paul’s article here: ‘George North’s concussion damaged him and the image of rugby union’.

Image and reputation is inextricably linked with stakeholders, and therefore a damaged reputation can have seriously harmful repercussions.

If the Rugby Union is not properly looking after it’s key stakeholders, the players, by risking their health then it calls into question rugby’s credibility. Rugby’s image and reputation becomes damaged and this then loses other essential stakeholders – the fans and the funding.

When things go wrong mitigation is key and rugby’s swift action on concussion has limited the damage to the Union’s image and to the players.

George North’s case emphasised Rugby Union’s concussion protocol and it’s importance. But, there was considerable outrage with how it was dealt with and his welfare.

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George North was knocked out when Wales played England in the 2015 Six Nations Tournament

 

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George North sustained serious head injuries but was allowed to play on

After George North’s concussion debacle it was rumoured that players often pushed themselves back to playing before they were ready, in fear of losing their place on the team. Other comments circulated that coaches were the culprits making players return. The comments didn’t go away.

Given the nature of rugby, it wasn’t long until another high-profile case presented itself and after Mike Brown went out cold during the Valentines Day match against Italy, PR went in to overdrive from the England camp. It was the perfect opportunity to rescue rugby’s reputation from what happened mere weeks earlier with George North. It was time for communication.

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Mike Brown out cold after a clash when England played Italy in the 2015 Six Nations Tournament

Multiple news stories and updates were issued stipulating that Mike Brown is being protected by existing protocol and that he will not be returning until all symptoms are gone. Mitigation, through strategic PR communication, did its job and the concussion protocol fever has been sated for now. Here are some of the quotes that were released from the England camp…

BBC sport quoted England rugby’s coaches:

“This morning Mike woke up not feeling 100%. The right and proper thing to do was to make the call. His health is the main priority here and we need to get him right for the next game. The symptoms aren’t too severe whatsoever, just a little headache. He’s fine in himself and is chirpy enough, but it just isn’t worth the risk because his health comes first.” assistant coach Andy Farrell said.

 

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said the squad’s medical staff would continue to work with Brown to “get him back to full health”.

Although this is great news for Mike Brown’s welfare, this does mean that he will miss today’s Six Nation Ireland v England match, much to the disappointment of England rugby fans, Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the coaching team. But, in this instance, the risk is too big to chance. Everyone involved knows this and the right decision has been made. Well done Stuart. England 1 – 0 Wales.

Taking risks for reputation enhancement is not a new topic in PR and it is something I have written about before. Recently, the article I posted about Madonna at the 2015 Brit awards, talked about how far is too far in PR, using the example of Red Bull who risked a life for PR purposes. Like I said before, if the live jump from space had gone wrong then the damage to the brand would have been unprecedented. Instead it’s secured their place in the top brands of the world. Risk can equal big rewards.

However, rugby isn’t just a brand or a product, it’s bigger than that, it’s a part of our society. It’s children developing important skills, the Sunday run about with the lads, it’s the first trip to a major stadium, it’s the highs and lows of following your team. Big risk here won’t work.

It seems rugby is aware of its position, the risk and the potential damage, even if the George North situation was a reminder of why the rules and protocol are there. In this instance, strategic PR was used to manage the expectations of its stakeholders. It facilitated communication with its stakeholders by saying ‘how we dealt with that was wrong, but look, we’ve learnt from our mistake’. Crisis averted.