Here at Smoking Gun, like any PR agency in Manchester, we understand the importance of prose. That’s why when clients come looking for marketing and public relations expertise we can offer copy worth reading.
Obviously, then, we spend a significant amount of time studying other people’s written work. We’re interested in the great ideas other PRs in the North West and wider UK regions have conceived, and the disastrous ones less-successful firms undertake, and under-perform on.
So it was of great interest to all of us here on Mount Street when we picked up a recent copy of the Manchester Evening News. Inside, one particular story about Stockport Council’s latest leaflet caught our professional eye. It’s about now when you’re supposed to ask, “why?”
In short, residents in one district of the South Manchester town all received an anti-littering, fly tipping and animal waste handout. Designed to turn respectable neighbours against the rubbish dumpers blamed for blighting the area, the circular carried the slogan: “Report the tosser, keep Brinnington tidy.”
To say the copy was ill conceived is something of an understatement. While it’s punchy, and to the point, this particularly obvious double meaning has managed to offend a host of people, from pensioners to a local councillor, with the campaign being branded as ‘awful’. So what’s your opinion?
Daring campaigns like this are, at times, the best way forward if you’re looking for something memorable. But there’s a point when innovation and impact should be balanced by suitability, and an appreciation of target audiences. In this case, more research into the average age of residents should have been a priority, and any ideas outside the proverbial box should have been approached with extreme caution. After all, this is a government arm, not a cool corporation.