Companies starring in TV shows: PR gold or a very big gamble?

If your organisation was offered its very own TV show, it might seem too good to be true. But would accepting be a savvy PR move or a dreadful error of judgement?

Companies gaining exposure in this way is certainly not uncommon. Teen Vogue and Diane Von Furstenberg featured as workplaces for the stars of MTV’s The Hills, the Google offices ‘starred’ in the recent movie The Internship, and now Tatler has opened its doors for BBC2’s Posh People: Inside Tatler.

Source: theguardian.com

The Internship, Source: theguardian.com

While we all probably had an inkling that Google would be an incredible place to work before The Internship showed us sleep pods, Google bikes and unlimited free food, the movie certainly helped to cement the assumption that working there would be atypical and inspirational.

I was left feeling far less positive when I caught a glimpse of Posh People: Inside Tatler last night. It felt to me that Tatler was struggling to portray itself clearly through the show – something I’ve never felt about this brand before. The production team seemed to want to show you that Tatler isn’t for everyone – you’d probably have got this just from the title – but the people who work there seemed to want to prove just how down-to-earth they are.

While either side may broaden the magazine’s readership for a few issues, the risk to the company’s credibility that is being brought about by the struggle between the show’s two aims could prove to be costly. Presenting a clear, consistent and compelling message is typically marketing priority number one, after all.

So, if it ever becomes an option for you to reveal all on TV or the big screen, make sure you retain as much control over the direction, production and final edit as you can. If you relinquish control – which you may have to unless you can bankroll it yourself – it could cause irreparable damage to your brand.

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John Lewis’s recipe for Christmas success

Anticipation for the release of the John Lewis Christmas advert seems to grow each year.

John Lewis has clearly found a formula for success that works time after time:

  1. Create a character that is incredibly loveable (this year, it’s #MontyThePenguin)
  2. Sign up an excellent singer to cover a popular song (you can’t beat The Beatles, right?)
  3. Tug on the heartstrings (snowmen in love, best friends missing Christmas… it’s undeniably good material)
  4. Appeal to your core audience – John Lewis knows that family and friendship are important to their customers so they don’t try to do anything clever, they simply demonstrate that they understand their customers’ values
  5. Throw in as much festivity as you can
  6. Let the hype do the rest

This year’s example follows the format to the letter:

This approach wouldn’t work for all brands, of course, and not every company can produce an advert that fills everyone’s Facebook feed on the day of release, but if you can find a formula that works for your brand and create something that is guaranteed to appeal to your customer, you could have a small slice of the John Lewis Christmas pie.