Did you hear the one about Poundbakery, who thought it would be a fab idea to potentially maim and kill wildlife, whilst wantonly littering the Greater Manchester area?
It is quite possible however that you read about the bakery releasing 500 helium balloons, containing free sandwich vouchers in Bolton, as a PR stunt.
"The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can't wait to see where the balloons end up." Keely Palin, Marketing Manager, Poundbakery Bolton
This ill conceived stunt, along with Poundbakery's Marketing Manager, Keely Palin, certainly both deserve an entry in this year's PR Hall of Shame.
Barely 20 days ago, on 20th March, Horse and Hound reported that a young horse ran through a gate, broke two of her legs and then her neck after choking on a helium balloon that had landed in her field.
Keely Palin told The Bolton News on 7th March 2017, "The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can't wait to see where the balloons end up."
Whilst Bolton and Greater Manchester are not known for their turtle population, it is a shame that Ms Palin seems to have not yet grasped that the environment needs to be positively accounted for when planning and executing every piece of PR.
At present the Marine Conservation Society is urging the public to back the banning of all balloon releases.
Currently over 50 UK local authorities including Cornwall County, Durham, Monmouthshire, Worcestershire etc, have agreed to implement a ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land.
A dead Guillemot entangled in a fence by a balloon
After releasing the 500 balloons, Poundbakery proudly posted the following statement on their Facebook page.
"As promised, here’s the video of the balloon release…we can confirm that the balloons (complete with FREE LUNCH vouchers) headed South East, towards Yorkshire and Manchester. However, with the British weather, they could be anywhere by now. Keep a lookout and post any pictures of the balloons in the sky…happy hunting!"
Poundbakery is encouraging everyone to tweet a photo of themselves with their Poundbakery voucher to @poundbakery with the hashtag #FreeLunch and #GoLarge. Alternatively you could always email Poundbakery with your views on balloon releases.
The hashtags for the campaign to stop balloon releases include #Pollution, #Litter, #BalloonsBlow, #Wildlife and #DontLetGo
So Ms Keely Palin. Here's a piece of advice. A bad publicity stunt is memorable for all the wrong reasons, so here is a chance to make it right.
- Organise a Poundbakery sponsored beach clean
- Donate funds to the Marine Conservation Society to help them educate others who don't understand just how damaging balloon releases can be
- Sign the MCS's pledge to help the charity ban balloon releases
- And how about feeding 500 homeless people? One for every balloon you released!
Now has anyone got Bolton Council's telephone number to get them to ban balloon releases?