Cheers or tears for Thresher?

Richard Bailey asks whether the Thresher discount voucher is another Hoover – one of the classic marketing/public relations disaster campaigns.  There are several interesting dimensions to this one:

[1] Thresher has said it will honour the vouchers – so if that all goes smoothly, it shouldn’t echo Hoover where there were administrative hoops to jump through that alienated “customers” and gave more media mileage. (BTW – my parents had a great holiday in Florida with that offer eventually)

[2] Businesswise, this doesn’t look like Hoover (where you got back more than you spent – a break to Florida being aspirational and much more than a vacuum cleaner that no-one really wanted), so it will depend on when any financial results are announced – and there is probably an added bonus of keeping business away from competitors at the busy Christmas period.

[3] Thresher aren’t playing this as a clever initiative using new media – according to Channel 4 news, Thresher Group PR Manager, Dirk Kind claims: “The initial e-mail was to our suppliers and we didn’t say ‘friends and family’. It has just absolutely snowballed way beyond anything we anticipated.”  Interesting to see if it becomes presented as a case study in using new media despite this should it prove to be a success.

[4] Kind is also reported as saying there was an error in not ensuring the coupons specified limited use for suppliers – which is a major lesson for anyone in PR organising competitions or offers not to ignore the legal dimension.

[5] There are dozens of vouchers circulating online at present making this the marketing tactic of the moment, but only Threshers has hit the headlines.  This is a reminder that there is much more to generating buzz than the tactics used.  There needs to be relevance, the right online influencers involved, connections to a wider offline audience, and an angle for the media.  The timing co-incided with debate about whether the Internet could challenge the “booze cruise”, for example.

I have a feeling this will work out fine for Threshers – but all those piggybacking on the idea believing it is easy to create online buzz should be prepared to explain to eager bosses why their campaign hasn’t captured the headlines.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

One thought on “Cheers or tears for Thresher?”

  1. I very much doubt the offer was intended solely for suppliers – they would have access to cheap booze anyway. It seems to have been a viral marketing ploy that escalated out of proportion, but it was an interesting test. Just look at all the media coverage Thresher had too. It will be interesting to know how much booze they sold via the vouchers over the 10 days, I will make a note in my diary to call them and check it out.

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