It’s smart of Pret to offer free wi-fi, but it’s smarter still to puncture the dryness of the message with witty, on-brand support copy
Too often mission statements are glib, interchangeable and soaked with avarice. Businesses might as well use a website to generate one.
Great ones are simple, positive and rally everyone behind an idea. Twitter appears to have one of those. Techcrunch reports, as part of the controversial leaked documents haul, that internally they are shooting:
to be the pulse of the planet
I think that’s great – memorable, audacious and benevolent.
This is what can happen when companies take the heavy option in dealing with PR situations on the web.
Reputation management in the internet era requires a more subtle approach. As Techcrunch says:
rather than just simply fixing the issue, apologizing, and moving on, Guinness has decided to dig a nice, big hole for itself
You’ve surely seen the story of the musician with a beef against United Airlines for damaging his guitar. Being dissatisfied with their response to the incident, he wrote a song lampooning the airline and it’s become a monster hit on YouTube.
Very funny, but not unique. There are many examples of nimble Davids embarrassing organisational Goliaths by savvy use of the web. And how we all love to see things evened out and the big guy look a bit stoopid.
So, say you’re United – this is not good PR. What do you do? How do you respond when someone launches a satirical strike? My advice would include:
1. Be nice
There is no mileage in getting heavy. Be humble, generous, transparent and responsive. Give the guy a guitar!
2. Play along
There is no advantage in looking po-faced and corporate. The joke is on you and the only way out is to be a good sport. Perhaps in this instance, they could have made their own video response: a shoddy karaoke version of the same song with edited lyrics.
“We’re sorry about the guitar, and we’re even more sorry about our singing“
A better way to promote your agency‘s abilities: make something blinding that begs the question “who made that!?”
How to make a virtue out of a potential negative
Of all the TV ads I’ve been involved in, I’m probably most proud of the launch campaign for the Johnny Vaughan breakfast show. James Cridland was kind enough to rate it:
…the very best radio personality ad. Conveying the benefit of listening to local radio not national, conveying the personality of the breakfast host, and with a clear message of the radio station itself.
Chris Tarrant was leaving the station after 17 years and had been unassailable in the ratings for a long time. Breakfast shows have the biggest audience of the day, and listening habits at that time are very habitual. People don’t want change while they stumble through their morning routines, so changing the biggest show on the highest profile commercial radio station felt like undertaking a product heart transplant.
Johnny had been selected because he had star quality, London credentials and was a proven morning entertainer (thanks to the Big Breakfast). However, just sticking a well-known name in wasn’t enough. We ran a workshop to nail what was to be true (about Johnny and Capital), motivating (to listeners and advertisers) and distinct (in the marketplace).
This resulted in a thought that Johnny was a loveable rogue and that the show would be London’s most entertaining breakfast show.
The incumbent agency, DLKW, were given the brief, and Malcolm Green delivered the idea. It was markedly different to the usual run-of-the-mill radio ad scripts, so to sell it to the board, two reference videos were used.
Firstly, this scene from Oliver showed the joyousness and broad appeal of a song-and-dance London street scene:
Secondly, could Johnny pull it off? He’s a talented chap, but not a trained dancer. This music video for Fatboy Slim showed Christopher Walken going through a few basic steps and looking drop dead cool. Michael Rooney choreographed Johnny brilliantly and I can still hear him urging “Sing, Johnny, SING!” during the filming.
The final ad took two and a half days to shoot. We’d wanted four but that was waaay too expensive, so it ended up being 6am – midnight filming over a long weekend. It was filmed in January and was freezing. Johnny’s wearing long johns in the Piccadilly Circus scene.
This out-take was entirely spontaneous – hence the genuine laughter from the crew squeezed into the corner of the studio. We ran a bleeped version of this ending in cinema and it went down a storm.
Lovely knowing poster from VW. Makes everyone feel smart.