Five of the world’s most shocking PR blunders

From failed Kardashian trademarks to badly-planned Government photo ops, the world certainly isn’t short of daring, dramatic and damaging PR blunders

This from PR and social media specialists Harvey & Hugo…

Some of you may be thinking: “I never see anything that bad from PR companies near me.” But believe us – they’re out there. So, buckle up as we delve into the good, the bad, and the downright ugly…

When brands put commerciality over conscience

Picture the scene: Kendall Jenner taking part in a photoshoot, cooling down with a refreshing can of Pepsi. Sounds like a straightforward premise for a TV advert, right?

It would have been, had Pepsi not chosen to profit from ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in America. The advert featured a throng of happy protestors cheering as Kendall abandons her shoot to join in, before offering a drink to a police officer.

Given the high tensions of the movement and the inevitable backlash, it’s no surprise the advert was pulled almost immediately.

How not to say sorry

In 2010, a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing the worst oil spill in US history and irreparable damage to the ocean. The event was a tragedy. The response that followed from BP’s CEO Tony Hayward was a total disaster.

With clearly little to no media training, Hayward proclaimed that he’d “like his life back” when faced with media scrutiny. This was followed by a series of other gaffes (who knows why PR officers continued to let him face the cameras), before he eventually left the firm.

Bad flight, worse PR

What’s the best way to deal with a valid complaint on social media? Certainly not ask for all traces of it to be removed in a message that your thousands of followers can see.

But that’s the approach EasyJet took when a customer tweeted that they had been expected to sit in a seat with no backrest for a flight from London to Geneva. As you can imagine, people didn’t take too kindly to the firm’s decision to protect its brand rather than look after its customer, leading to huge backlash.

Not-so-secure social security

There’s confidence in your product, and then there’s sheer stupidity. That’s the lesson identity protection firm LifeLock found when its founder, Todd Davis, claimed to have so much faith in his product that he posted his social security number on television ads, billboards, websites, you name it.

Unsurprisingly, Davis fell victim to at least 13 crimes of identity theft. Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, the attention caused journalists to dig a little deeper into the firm and discover that it was founded on deceptive practices, leading to lawsuit costing millions. A bad day to be Todd Davis.

An out of this world release

And we don’t mean that in a good way. We’ll never know if online estate agent emoov was trying to be quirky with this release, or if they genuinely didn’t realise what a terrible idea it was. The bizarre story mapped out which cities in the UK are most at risk of being hit by a nuclear strike, and how property prices would be affected.

We haven’t even started on the grammatical and spelling errors (a nuclear bunker is not a cool ‘edition’ to a property).

Oh, and if you were wondering, Whitby, Carlisle and Dumfries are the places to be if we happen to be struck…

www.harveyandhugo.com

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