Top and Flop: November 2015's biggest PR fail and greatest comms triumph

Every month PRWeek UK chooses a Top of the Month and a Flop of the Month - for November, the respective accolades went to Pret's do-good Christmas campaign, and the sexual bragging of Tinder's chief executive.

Top of the month: Pret A Manger

Pret seized the Christmas spirit with verve with its A Little Thank You festive campaign, combining two things that make great PR – a unique stunt and charitable giving.

The chain kicked off promotional activities by wrapping up its Broadwick Street store as a giant present. Customers were invited to tear it open and were rewarded with a free sandwich, in a stunt well received by the industry.

Pret has never used paid-for TV or poster advertising to promote itself, and this year is no different, with the chain promoting charities within shops and on products.

This year, Pret’s digital media budget, including sponsored posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, is also being used to promote giving. On Instagram, Pret is running a portrait photography series telling the stories of the people it works with through its various chosen charities and the firm’s apprenticeship scheme for the homeless and ex-offenders.

On top of this it is also providing PR support to charities to help tell their stories and has pledged to donate 50p for every Christmas sandwich and baguette sold – last year it sold more than 625,000 festive sandwiches – to the Pret Foundation Trust. This will then distribute the money to the individual charities including Glasgow City Mission, The Choir with No Name, The Clock Tower Sanctuary in Brighton, Cardboard Citizens in Whitechapel and The 999 Club in Deptford.

Flop of the month: Tinder

The eve of a multi-billion-dollar flotation is probably not the best time for a key executive to boast about his sexual exploits, or use the word "sodomy" in, well, any context whatsoever.

But Tinder CEO Sean Rad hadn’t read the script before speaking to the London Evening Standard in November.

In the candid, sometimes bizarre article, Rad estimated that he had had about 20 sexual partners, and discussed how an unnamed supermodel was apparently "begging" him for sex.

Worse still, while trying to remember the word for people who "get turned on by intellectual stuff", he said: "I want to say sodomy...".

In attendance was Tinder’s VP of comms and branding, Rosette Pambakian, who is described as a "deadpan brunette whose glances are like well-aimed grenades". She reportedly "shrieked" after the sodomy reference, proclaiming: "That’s it! We’re going to be fired."

Not quite, but parent company Match Group distanced itself from the article, saying: "The article was not approved or condoned by, and the content not reviewed by, the company or any of its affiliates."

Rad can take some comfort from the fact his outbursts did not appear to have backfired on Match Group’s early stock market performance, with shares up nearly 23 per cent at the end of day one.

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