Okay, let’s begin this with a little disclaimer. No one paid for their tickets for last night’s Willy Moon gig on a barge so the amount of ire that can be heaped upon Ray-Ban and the hapless PR company that 'organised' this is limited. BUT if you’re going to hold an event to promote a brand in a positive way don’t, whatever you do, cock things up as badly as this.
Here’s the brief background story (life’s too short to spend hours on this). Ray-Ban decided to run a series of gigs across the UK to promote their eyewear and gave out free tickets to lucky competition winners or people who simply tweeted their details. So far so good. Great in fact. What a simply smashing idea eh chums? I’m sure the other gigs were a huge success and everyone had a super time. In Birmingham though there was clearly a bit of a cock up (insert your own Willy/cock/penis jokes here). For some ruddy silly reason the organisers had given out at least twice as many tickets as they had spaces on the barge. Despite turning up nearly an hour before the gig was due to start we were a good 10 or so places away from standing a chance of getting on. Why do this? Why get people to traipse along, raise their hopes and get them to queue up for an hour then happily chug off into the sunset leaving at least 50% of the ‘winners’ behind? You don’t need to be a PR genius to see that this isn’t the way to make a good impression. Having made the cock up though why not use your brain and do something about it? Here are a few ideas for starters. Instead of sailing the boat along the canal leave it moored and let Willy play outside. Far more people would see this (more people...brand awareness...get it?) and everyone would go home happy. Or, at the very least, allow Willy to play a few numbers outside for those who weren’t able to get on the boat. Or have two sailings with shorter performances. See? It ain’t rocket science. It’s just BASIC PR.
Having missed out on the barge gig we were asked to wait around so that we could design our own t-shirts. Okay. I’ll play along. We were ushered into a small tent and given a cheap t-shirt and some marker pens that had seen better days. The spray cans of paint had run out and the metal studs in pots had started to go rusty. Tetanus anyone? It was a remarkably shabby affair, more suited to an inner city playgroup that had fallen on hard times rather than a $multi-million global brand. We were then asked to pose in our creations. You’d expect the PR bods to take pictures to use but again they failed to make anything of what could have been a bit of fun. If you had a camera (I didn’t) they’d snap a picture of you but what the hell was the point of that? Why not take their own shots and stick them online? To...you know...raise the profile of the whole campaign. Er...isn’t that the point of PR? I have no idea who was responsible for this fiasco but they should start looking for another job. There are plenty of interesting larger venues across Birmingham that would have been better suited to this kind of event or, as already suggested, they could just have had two sailings. For what it’s worth I’ve tweeted Ray-Ban and I’ll post any response I get up here too but I’m not holding my breath.
EDIT: I swiftly received a very nice response from Ray-Ban and the kind offer of a goodie bag. I wasn't expecting this and, as I said at the beginning of this piece, no one had paid for a ticket so there was really no need for them to offer me anything. Good to see a global business listening to a local voice.