My biggest gaffe: a vegetarian Bisto Kid

Havas PR London MD Steve Marinker avoids getting teary-eyed recalling his Fleet Street roasting over a Bisto Kids competition foul-up...

Steve Marinker: London MD, Havas PR (Picture credit: Julian Dodd)
Steve Marinker: London MD, Havas PR (Picture credit: Julian Dodd)

Like most PR professionals, my career is littered with foul-ups but the one that affected me most came in the early 90s and was charmingly irrelevant. At the time, though, I was crushed.

Back then, I was responsible for the Bisto Kids of the Year competition. The Bisto Kids were a pair of illustrated ragamuffin children who represented the brand for decades. Each year, Bisto scoured the nation for a boy and girl who resembled the originals. My job was to run the show and parade the winners to the media.

We’d run a good campaign, found six pairs of finalists, chosen worthy winners and presented them to the hordes of journalists. Brilliant. Except one of the winners was a vegetarian.

So what, you may ask? Bisto granules don’t contain meat – people use them for vegetarian dishes. True, but it’s kind of associated with the Sunday roast. Cue howls of laughter from Fleet Street and headlines that still make me wince.

I was the "red-faced" Bisto spokesman desperately trying to save face. It was the only time in my career I burst into tears.

Since then, I always try to look for every potential booby trap while recognising that complete visibility of all potential risks is never possible. Despite the tears and tantrums, I presided over the following year’s competition, though – wisely – it turned out to be the last.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.