National Trust PR team vows to keep challenging claims of 'Easter airbrushing'

The National Trust has told PRWeek that it will "continue to challenge accusations" that it has removed references to Easter from its promotional tie-in with chocolate egg-maker Cadbury.

Part of a National Trust campaign poster promoting the Cadbury Egg Hunt
Part of a National Trust campaign poster promoting the Cadbury Egg Hunt

The Trust was commenting after a day in which its festive activities were the subject of great media debate, with even the Prime Minister moved to give her view.

In a story first appearing on the Telegraph website on Monday (3 April), the Church of England (CofE) accused the conservation charity of downplaying the significance of Easter, having changed the name of its annual 'Easter Egg Trail' to 'Cadbury Egg Hunt'.

The Church of England said in a statement: "This marketing campaign not only does a disservice to the Cadburys, but also highlights the folly in airbrushing faith from Easter." CofE Archbishop of York John Sentamu added: "To drop 'Easter' from Cadbury's Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of [John] Cadbury."

A response released by the trust the same day said the accusation was "nonsense". It said: "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Prime Minister Theresa May also waded into the debate yesterday, labelling what the National Trust and Cadbury were doing as "frankly just ridiculous", while a number of people took to social media to boycott the National Trust. Several said they would be cancelling their memberships. The story was given significant coverage by national media outlets.

In response to the extensive backlash, a National Trust spokeswoman has now said the organisation would "continue to challenge the accusations that we have dropped 'Easter' from the promotional activity supporting our Easter partnership with Cadbury".

The organisation's statement added: "We host a huge programme of events, activities and walks to bring families together to celebrate this very special time of year. Our website carries 13,000 references to Easter throughout."

The spokeswoman told PRWeek the National Trust had also received a "significant number of supportive tweets, with many people intending to take up membership as a result of seeing how the Trust responded to the story".

Other commentators took the opportunity to inject some humour into the situation, with Liberal Democrats leader Tim Fallon saying the fiasco was an "eggs-tremely big distraction" from bigger stories.

"I think we all feel poached by this whole sorry saga, but none of us more than Cadbury's and the National Trust, who have done nothing wrong and are right to feel egg-rieved by the criticism they have received."

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