Ineos, the Scottish refinery that has fallen out with workers over its pension plans, has come out of the dispute with a better public perception, the agency argues.
‘Before this, Ineos was the biggest company you'd never heard of,' said Media Zoo
account director Sion Taylor. ‘But it's a great British industrial success story and we want to get that story across.'
Unite, the union that called last week's strike action, sees things rather differently, claiming Ineos did itself no favours by inflaming the dispute. Ineos sent a letter to all workers telling them that the pension scheme would close on 1 August - ahead of a two-day strike intended to keep the pension scheme open.
When the strike went ahead, Unite claimed a PR victory by dressing strikers and their families in
‘Save our pensions' T-shirts, photos of which made all the Scottish newspapers. Latterly, in a PR spat, Ineos was forced to take legal action against Unite on 22 April for what it called ‘inaccurate and misleading' public comments. Unite had claimed Ineos stripped £40m from the Grangemouth pension fund.
Unite subsequently recanted the accusation.
The strike in numbers
100 Media enquiries a day handled by Media Zoo
100 Interviews by Ineos since story broke on 17 April
86% Proportion of Grangemouth workers on strike on 27 April
65,000 Extra tons of diesel from Europe arrive in Scotland to make up for any shortages
5 The number of Scotland's 956 filling stations that ran out of fuel
30% How much UK fuel BP's Forties pipeline, shut down during the strike, delivers
4 Number of Ineos spokespeople working on the story
VIEWPOINT: Remembering the last fuel strike
Partner, Luther Pendragon
Grangemouth is a timely reminder of the overwhelming power of public mood in a complex modern economy. Last time was in 2000, when 200 fuel-price protesters brought the economy to its knees in six days and shook our political elite to the core.
It started after French farmers and hauliers blockaded Channel cross-ings, stranding 100,000 British holidaymakers. This aroused their British counterparts, who picketed the Stanlow refinery in Cheshire.
To ministers' horror, the public saw the protesters as representing the people's will. The popular press were right behind them - until they ran out of newsprint.
The most striking phenomenon was the power of previously unknown individuals, such as farmers' leader Brynle Williams, who showed how to sustain public support by allowing ‘emergency' deliveries while the Government fumed.
Regional health director John Ashton had more effect in five minutes than three prime ministerial press conferences. By accusing pickets of causing the same damage to the NHS as a terrorist attack, he convinced the public that it really did have something to lose.