24 October 2014
Alice Baker, Account Director

Is all publicity good publicity?

Wispa Bar

It's a common phrase and probably something that every one of us has uttered at some point or another, whether you're in PR or not. But, in times of strife the words: 'all publicity is good publicity' is commonly thrown about by brands, almost like a silver-lining-type-comment to show that things are never really that bad.

But is it really true?

It is true that brands need to carefully manage their communications and activity, especially as social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming the platforms of choice for consumers who are sourcing and digesting information.  

Like many communications platforms, social media is a double-edged sword, offering opportunities to raise a brand's profile whilst also offering the perfect environment to commit a catastrophic PR blunder, and in real time too. However, due to the interaction that these platforms offer both brands and the public, we have recently seen how some PR blunders can – in some instances – be completely flipped around, solely because of the direct channel consumers now have to vocalise their opinions.

The above is all very well in theory, but does it actually work? Here are my top three 'zero to hero' brand come backs. They're so good, you might even ask yourself whether they did them on purpose…

At number three: Airbnb announces a new logo:

This summer saw travel site Airbnb unveil its shiny new logo called 'Bélo'. Cute name huh? It was intended to have a clear message of 'belonging', however the message wasn't all that clear and it wasn't long before everyone on Twitter was comparing the new logo to a certain part of the female body… Embarrassing, yes, and made worse by the fact that Automation Anywhere unveiled a very similar style logo in the same week. Perhaps a little ironic that Airbnb went with the strapline 'our new logo belongs to everyone', especially when it didn't even appear that the new logo belonged to them. But, with a huge amount of noise on Twitter and countless news and comment pieces appearing online, it's the biggest exposure the brand has had since it hit the big time – all fail or all hail?

Number two: high-street retailer Gap u-turns on new logo:

Back in 2010, and just one week after its introduction, US retailer Gap decided to scrap its new logo, reverting back to its old one, following an 'outpouring of comments' online. Some say the incident was an indication of the limited understanding the brand had about its customer base. But, Gap used this situation as an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to "always putting customers first", taking customer comments onboard and reacting to them. Four years later and they're still going strong...

And finally, the number one is: The Wispa 'relaunch'

In 2003, as part of a relaunch of the Dairy Milk brand, Cadbury made the decision to discontinue the Wispa bar, relaunching it as the 'Dairy Milk Bubbly' bar. Granted, it did take four years for fans to kick into action, but the outcome was a public outcry for Wispa to return, following an Internet campaign in 2007. Coverage for the campaign was widespread and a gaggle of Wispa fans invaded a stage at Glastonbury armed with a banner saying 'Bring Back Wispa'. A member of the public even sold an out-of-date bar that she found down the back of her sofa on eBay for £1,000!

By October 2008 Wispa was back on our shelves – just in time to coincide with the launch of a limited edition Wispa McFlurry at McDonalds – lucky that. It is now one of the brand's most popular bars.  

To speak to a member of the team about how to bring your PR campaign alive, please call: Helen Westgate or email: helen@westgatecomms.com


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