Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Being a Likeable brand - it's not that easy being Orange

It’s been an interesting week here at DDPR HQ. We’ve tangled with PG Tips and Orange UK, and discovered some interesting things about the respective PR chops of each.

PG recently kicked off a Twitter promoted campaign, #CuppaClub, to make their online presence friendlier , and being the outgoing team that we are, we tweeted PG Tips (or the PG Tips monkey) asking for a RT on the basis of our herculean tea drinking skills.

I did not expect a RT. They’re a big brand, and arguably don’t have the time to RT every Tom, Dick and DDPR who turn up on their Twitter. However, they shouldn’t have replied as they did – with an automated response. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies using these, but from a PR perspective it’s inadvisable. If your brand is setting out to seem more approachable, then responding wih an automatically generated reply is not going to make your customers feel warm and fuzzy towards you. 

However when I pointed this out to them, ‘Tips immediately responded with a personalised message, elegantly constructed to reassure me of their personal friendship. I was delighted with this and proceeded to RT and favourite and generally sing their praises - as I am continuing to do now.  It’s a jungle out there for traditional brands in non-traditional media, but the PG Tips monkey impressed me, and is on his way to swinging along through Twitter nicely.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Orange.  This morning, still high on my PG Tips triumph I decided it was time to resolve a long-suffered issue with my Orange San Diego handset. It’s nothing technical, not a Bluetooth or WI-FI error, it’s simply that my handset (of which there have been three of the same model, all with the same problem) absolutely will not hold on to signal. I can’t text; I can’t call, and essentially feel like I’m carrying it around redundantly.

I called Orange after doing some Google detective work, and discovered that this was not a new issue. Not only are San Diegos notoriously faulty – Orange knows that they are. When questioned on this, my rep simply replied ‘It’s not our fault, it’s down to the manufacturer’, and refused to acknowledge that some liability for faulty goods has to lie with the retailer. I questioned whether they owed a responsibility to customers on first purchase of the phone, and was immediately shot down. The fact that a company knowingly sells faulty goods and denies liability had me in a PR tailspin of fury.

I can buy my way out of my contract for £500, or I can spend a year with my inadequate, useless phone. These are my only choices. Orange has no interest in warning people about these phones, let alone doing anything about them, so it’s up to angry customers like me to spread the word.

In conclusion, I will now be drinking nothing but PG Tips tea, and whilst I’m drinking that tea, I will be loudly telling anyone who cares to listen about the absurdly arrogant and irresponsible attitude Orange take to selling their (loyal) customers, rubbish handsets. I smell a corporate PR meltdown in the making, and I will be the first to chorus ‘I told you so….’