Friday, June 14, 2013

When good PR goes bad (EDIT:and then good again)...or how Ray-Ban left us in the dark

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? 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.

PS: The lovely Mr Willy Moon was totally blameless in this affair. He came out and apologised to those of us who had been screwed over so clearly he felt bad about the whole thing. 

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. 


Hurdy Gurdy Man said...

I was on the list for last night but ended up having to work late (GUTTED!!!!).

Checked out what I missed on Twitter and looks like 99% of people thought it was mega and you thought it was rubbish! CONFUUUUSED. OBVs everyone wan't gonna get on the boat but why didn't people just walk beside the boat? kind of assumed that's what'd end up happening - I had beer in the fridge at work ready for a boozey meander along the canal bank. Cinders didn't make it to the ball tho. Big up to Willy M, and Ray Ban!!!

The Baron said...

Dear Hurdy Gurdy Man,

I'm sure the people who made it onto the barge had a great time. Equally I'm aware that not everyone who won a ticket could be accommodated. Just to clarify (although I thought it was pretty clear) my point was: Why issue three of four times more tickets than the barge could possibly hold? Why not just give out the number of tickets that corresponded to the spaces on the barge? By all means offer other prizes to be collected on the day and then, if someone doesn't turn up, allow someone else to take their place. I arrived nearly an hour before the event was due to start so I certainly wasn't expecting to just wander in at 7.30. I'm guessing that 20 or so others got there after we did. A number of people were - in my humble opinion - needlessly disappointed. Whilst barges aren't the fastest things on earth I reckon a "meander" is a little optimistic. And if the ‘Cinders’ jibe is aimed at me, I'll take it. After all she got to marry the handsome Prince (I’d prefer a Princess myself but if he’s rich enough, hey, bring it on) and live happily ever after didn't she eh?

PS: Ray-Ban has very kindly got in touch with me and offered a gift. Not expected or deserved but very much appreciated.

PPS: At no point did I slag off the lovely Mr Moon so I'll happily big him - and now Ray-Ban - up too

Matt Spencer said...

Standing in the queue for this concert, I was also questioning how on earth they would manage to fit everybody aboard the narrowboat, and assumed that perhaps the concert would be from outside of the boat, and then a boat trip for a lucky few.

This wasn't the case, however, the result for myself being lucky enough to get on board was incredible. I think Ray-Ban were doing the best they could to not only offer a unique (And free) experience, but to promote the event with the over-producing of tickets.

Here's my version of events:

The Baron said...

Hi Matt,

Cheers for the comment and the link. It looked like a really great evening. I also expected that the gig might be held where the boat was moored (albeit inside the boat itself) as I've been to a couple of events like this and that's how they worked. So when it chugged off into the distance leaving all the losing 'winners' behind it was a bit of a disappointment. Still, Ray-Ban has apologised and hopefully lessons have been learnt. Like I said before if they just issued enough winning tickets to fill the boat but then gave out some 'reserve' tickets then no one would have minded if they didn't get on. It was the expectation that, by turning up an hour early, you'd get to see a special gig versus the reality that you wouldn't that annoyed people. Genuinely glad you enjoyed it though, ta for posting up the video clips too.