Good and Bad PR 4 minute read
Later this year, the summer wedding of Joel Burger and Ashley King will be taking place in Jacksonville. If the penny hasn’t dropped just yet for you, that will be the Burger-King wedding. HOW AMAZING IS THAT?
Last week, the State Journal-Register (a paper in the US) published an article about Joel and Ashley’s upcoming nuptials and the story of how they met (childhood friends turned high school sweethearts).
When it came to having their engagement photo taken, which appeared in the Chatham Clarion and New Berlin newspapers, they stood behind a Burger King sign outside one of the fast food chain’s restaurants. Genius. Although it’s tradition for the bride’s name to appear first in announcements, the Burger King link was just too good to not grab with both hands, so a cheeky switch around meant the hilarity of the coincidence could live on.
The State Journal-Register ended the article with the line “Now let's see if Burger King embraces Burger King“, prompting the company to get involved. So, did it? You betcha!
The fast food company Skyped the couple at bride-to-be Ashley’s parents’ house in New Berlin (Wisconsin) to offer congratulations. However, that wasn’t the only reason they wanted to reach out to the lovebirds, because at the end of the call Burger King (the company, not the couple) had offered to foot the entire bill for the Burger-King (the couple, not the company) wedding.
Not only that, but all of the guests will be getting personalised gift bags (provided by Burger King), Mason jars and Burger King crowns. The catering would be an obvious contribution, but it’s not known just yet if the wedding breakfast will feature any Whoppers.
A spokesperson for Burger King said “When we heard about the happy Burger-King couple, we felt an overwhelming urge to celebrate their upcoming marriage. On so many levels, it felt like fate; they found each other and their story found us. We knew deep in our hearts that we wanted to honour the union of Mr Burger and Ms King, in an unforgettable way.”
If I later find out that the whole thing is a stunt and Joel Burger and Ashley King aren’t a real couple (or they are but changed their names by deed poll for the purpose of this announcement) I would be totally devastated. Looks magnificently genuine to me though!
As a brand, being associated with a person’s death is just about the worst thing that could happen. So, Vodafone is in a pretty sticky situation after it was revealed that a 78-year-old grandmother died after she collapsed and was unable to phone family due to her phone having been cut off.
Sheila Secker had topped up her pay-as-you-go device less than a week before her death on New Year’s Day. Although she rarely used her mobile, she put credit on the device in case she needed to use it while she was waiting for her landline to be installed.
Vodafone had “recycled” her phone number without her knowledge, because her 14-year-old SIM had been placed in what’s called pre-disconnection quarantine on 24 September after it had been dormant for more than 90 days.
The lady’s son, 46-year-old Steve Secker, discovered the problem on Christmas day when two separate payments of £30 failed to show up on his mother’s phone’s account. He raised the issue with Vodafone straight away, but the problem hadn’t been resolved when Mrs Secker collapsed. She was suffering from Osteoporosis and a flu infection at the time of her death. She was found by police following a call from relatives who were concerned that they had not heard from her and died in hospital on 1 January.
A Vodafone spokesperson has said in a comment that until a phone is disconnected, it can still be used to dial emergency numbers (even without credit on the phone), but Mrs Secker was probably unaware of that. The company also refunded the two £30 top-ups, paid £40 compensation and returned payments worth a further £140; which is really no comfort for the loss of a loved one.
An official investigation has since been launched and the regulator Ofcom will look into the series of events which they called “distressing” and “disgraceful”. It’s not known whether being able to make a call to her family would have saved Mrs Secker’s life, or if she would have been able to even if her phone was connected, but that’s almost irrelevant now that the news has hit.
Vodafone is in the firing line due to the timing of the disconnection and media outlets like the Daily Telegraph, Huffington Post and the Metro have already picked up on it, spelling somewhat of a PR nightmare for the telecoms giant.
Shannon Haigh, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter
Seen any good or bad PR recently, you know what to do, @10Yetis on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org on email.