Punch Drunk PR

January 20, 2008

With Alan Hansen signed up at Morrison’s, Jamie Oliver representing chicken giants Sainsbury’s, and ‘food porn’ in the shape of M&S advertising, high street supermarkets are busy fighting for consumer footfall. PR’s role in all this is interesting; just like a high profile interview with a CEO from a big corporate, PRs can also impress journalists with access to tomorrow’s ‘must have’ items before they hit the shelves. This week I encountered one High Street supermarket who in PR = ROI terms, are making expensive mistakes.

In the February edition of Decanter magazine, M&S were awarded three gold stars for a wine from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux, produced by Châteaux Moulinet. This is no small feat and the wine (priced reasonably at £18) is surrounded by expensive wines stocked by famous wine merchants. That a high street supermarket can compete with the quality of Corney and Barrow etc on the pages of specialist wine magazine, is a real coup.

Imagine my disappointment then when taking a copy of my trusty magazine I headed to the M&S on Oxford Street only to find the wine missing from their shelves. An enquiry to a sales assistant was met with a blank start and I soon had the M&S wine ordering sheet in front of me and was told to look for it myself. Still no luck. “ok”, I said to myself, “ this is the February edition and we are still in January, I’ll ring the head office.”

M&S head office claimed never to have heard of the wine, and also hadn’t seen Decanter magazine (despite the fact it’s been out for half a month). They tried to sell me a case of Champagne before telling me that I should try my local store.

Exasperated, I give up.

What is the point of your PR team building a relationship with a key consumer magazine, if your sales team and CRM system isn’t sophisticated enough able to capitalise and close the sale?

All in all, a wasted opportunity.



3 Responses to “Punch Drunk PR”

  1. Chris Reed Says:

    Disaster for the Desmos. Cock up not conspiracy though.

    Just as well you weren’t shopping at Asda’s and looking for the mythical £30 bottles of Dom Perignon for £30…

  2. alaindesmier Says:

    another visit to M&S and no luck and no sign of the wine, another visit to the website… and YES! http://www.marksandspencer.com/gp/product/B000WIQADG/ref=sr_11_1?ie=UTF8&n=42966030&keywords=moulinet&mnSBrand=core&numItemsFound=1
    Not sure why Iam helping M&S out but follow the link for the wine!

  3. Simon Goldie Says:

    An excellent piece illustrating that the brand must deliver or all the PR in the world cannot save it.

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