We are officially over half-way through 2022 – where is the time going! So, we thought it was about time for a roundup of the top five PR disasters so far this year. Read our round up from last year, here.

From governments comms gone wrong (again!) and the general public calling out brands and individuals online, it’s safe to say we’ve seen our fair share of crisis management in play already this year. Here’s our round-up of the top five disasters that have caught our eye:

Molly-Mae Hague – a personal PR crisis

Molly-Mae Hague rose to fame after her appearance on ITV’s popular dating show Love Island in the summer of 2019. Since then, she has become extremely successful, gaining millions of followers on Instagram and YouTube, as well as launching her own fake-tan business and becoming fast-fashion brand Pretty Little Thing’s Creative Director. She has also had a string of brand collaborations and is highly sort after by clothing and beauty brands.

However, this year Molly-Mae came under fire after some comments she made on Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast, where she claimed ‘we all have the same 24-hours in a day as Beyonce’. This short clip quickly did the rounds online, with people on all social media platforms calling her out on her comments, branding them as ‘tone deaf’. There were also calls for her to be ‘cancelled’ and even sacked from her job as Creative Director – yikes!

Not only did her comments go viral, but it was also picked up by the media too, gaining even more traction than the original 50 second podcast clip. Celebrities and even MPs weighed in with their opinions and Steven Bartlett jumped in to respond to the backlash too – which was an interesting take.

What started as a possible honest mistake, resulted in her sending out a statement on her Instagram story to apologise. A total PR disaster at the time, highlighting how important it is to think before you speak!

Brewdog and that documentary 

Brewdog, the British multinational brewery and pub chain best known for their Punk IPA being the best selling craft beer in the UK, found itself in hot water earlier this year as some former employees have agreed to take part in a documentary ‘The Truth About Brewdog’.

The programme aimed to shine a light on the culture of Brewdog’s workplace, after workers described a ‘culture of fear’ – alleged bullying and staff being ‘treated like objects’.

The response from James Watt, BrewDog CEO, did not go down well, after he warned the people participating that their identities could be exposed, saying that anonymity ‘could never be guaranteed’ after attempting to control the situation and persuading staff to withdraw their consent – definitely not a good move! This resulted in a spokesperson for Unite Union releasing a statement, condemning Watt’s behavior, saying “any attempt to intimidate current and former workers taking a stand on systematic mistreatment will not be tolerated.” Generally speaking, we’re big fans of the brand and their creative campaigns – however this is a PR disaster we’re pretty sure will leave its mark..

Partygate – the governments PR nightmare

Possibly one of the biggest PR disasters of all time – ‘Partygate’ came to the forefront earlier this year, after Sue Gray’s damning report of what was actually going on behind closed doors in the government, whilst the whole country was in lockdown. Political communications have been notoriously bad since the start the pandemic and with Boris Johnson and a number of other cabinet ministers breaking their own rules – it is easy to see how this quickly turned into a PR crisis, with the whole nation outraged.

Gray investigated 16 alleged events of misconduct and said there was “no excuse for some of the behaviour that took place” – with the blame lying at Johnson’s door for a culture that allowed these parties to take place.

Just like when Matt Hancock broke his own rules, Johnson’s response says everything you need to know about how not to handle a PR crisis. After calls for him to resign, he continued on as Prime Minister, damaging his own reputation in the process – and in doing so exposing how poor the government’s crisis communications strategy really was! We imagine their press office team definitely had their heads in their hands for this…

Will Smith’s Oscars Slap

Whether you were watching the Oscars or not, most people have seen the viral clip of Will Smith striking Chris Rock during his Oscars speech. This took the internet by storm after Chris Rock made a ‘G I Jane’ joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Alopecia, resulting in Will slapping him mid-speech, in front of an audience of 16.62 million.

Having not been removed from the ceremony, Will then went up to collect his Oscar for “Best Actor” shortly after. The hype on social media and in the news for the coming weeks and months after this incident has been enormous, with plenty of celebrities weighing in on who was to blame. Whilst many condemned Will’s behaviour, a lot of people jumped to his defence, sparking global debate. Even to this day, four months on, news outlets are still continuing to talk about the incident, ensuring that it’s kept fresh in reader’s minds and creates conversation.

The reputations of both will most likely be effected in a negative way, especially as videos, memes and pictures remain on the internet forever – not the best move for either of them from a PR perspective..

Love Island Rack Up Complaints

Year upon year, Love Island receives plenty of Ofcom complaints, whether it’s about behaviour on the show, or if a contestant comes under fire for something they did prior to appearing on the show – so it’s no wonder there’s a fresh round of complaints this year. As of 27th July, Love Island has received more than 5,000 complaints from viewers on issues like misogyny and bullying – a shocking statistic!

The episode in question that sparked the most complaints, was during the ‘snog marry pie’ challenge, which resulted in 1,500 complaints made to Ofcom about some of the boy’s behaviour, with even the charity Women’s Aid stating that they are in ‘talks with the show’ about some of the treatment towards the women in the villa.

With popularity comes a lot of different opinions, and Love Island certainly gets people talking, users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all take to their phones to weigh in on the daily drama. But this comes with its fair share of speculation, particularly over the mental health of the contestants and how younger generations will be impacted by seeing ‘perfect’ bodies on their screens. After calls for the show to be axed, only time will tell how much longer we will see this show on our screens…

For more interesting articles from us check out these posts:

  1. Why it’s important to prepare for a PR crisis
  2. 10 Crisis Communication Tips Every Business Needs
  3. How to Prepare a PR Crisis Plan

At Prohibition, we work with a range of brands across all sectors, B2B and B2C, to create innovative PR campaigns that deliver real ROI and help meet business goals. Get in touch with us today to find out how we could support you with your Public Relations. Drop us an email: hello@prohibitionpr.co.uk or give us a bell on  0113 430 4160.

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