Review of 2010’s PR moments – part two, the Bad

By December 22, 2010Uncategorized

With the highs, come the lows and there were certainly plenty of bad PR moments in 2010, here’s just a few lowlights from the Indigo team.

BP receives this year’s Big Loser Award for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the disastrous PR response. CEO at the time, Tony Hayward, had a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease and provided one PR gaffe after another, from an evident lack of sympathy for the victim’s families to out-right denial of the effects the oil spill had on the environment and local economy.  BP has since committed to creating a $20 billion spill response fund and in early October Tony Hayward stepped down as CEO. But most would say this was all several months too late.  Oil company reputations are volatile at the best of times, but BP has some serious cleanup work to do just to get back to their previous position.

In the world of politics, the election provided a result of sorts.  We eventually got a coalition government but it didn’t include Gordon Brown or the Labour Party.  Arguably, it was Brown’s ‘bigot-gate’ that was the final PR disaster for his term in government.  An experienced politician, Brown forgot the first rule of broadcasting – if you’re wearing a microphone, always assume it’s live… His reputation was only salvaged to a degree by the final shots of his departure from Downing Street clutching his boys’ hands. 

In sporting politics, England’s 2018 World Cup bid was lost to Russia despite the support of David Beckham, Prince William and David Cameron.  The politics involved are transparent and well known… but was it really a PR disaster due to the media or was it simply a bad bid overhyped in advance?

Celebrities always provide plenty of PR failures, but 2010 was the year of ‘sexting’ with Vernon Kaye, Ashley Cole, Tiger Woods and Jason Manford all getting caught with their phones out.  The public media beatings have seen Manford quit as host of The One Show, Ashley Cole divorce from media sweetheart Cheryl and Tiger Woods lose a multitude of lucrative endorsements.  

This year X-factor has also lost its charm with this season providing allegations of racism, vote fixing/or outright ignoring, auto-tuning, rule changing and more irritating and self-absorbed characters than ever before.  Fortunately for winner Matt Cardle, despite the increased lack of trust in X-Factor and its processes, he still made it to Number 1with his debut single.

Even the formidable Lord Sugar’s reputation took a bit of a hit in chatrooms when he finally claimed to have had his eyes opened to Stuart “The Brand” Baggs and his behaviour in the semi-final of “The Apprentice”, when the rest of the world hadn’t had any difficulty in spotting Mr Baggs’ lack of substance.  

In business, it was travel companies (and, as a result, our holidays!) that suffered in 2010.  Many tour operators went bust, the volcano left hundreds of people stranded and there were new terrorist threats across Europe all making the ‘Staycation’ appear more and more attractive. Today, it’s our airports and airlines that are rushing to the barricades to protect their reputations after snow wreaked havoc with our travel plans and day-to-day lives. 

So that was 2010, roll on 2011!



Delyse is the webmaster, researcher and general support provider at Indigo.  She makes a mean cup of tea too.