October 3, 2022
For companies, the best royal tribute would be to keep calm and move on

In honor of Her Majesty, security guards at Center Parks will escort tourists out of the premises on Monday. After a night in a tent, they can return after the bank holiday is over. No they will not. Center Parks will lock families in their rooms during the Queen’s funeral. Toddlers can climb the walls of the Woodland Lodge, but only inside, certainly not outside. No, wait. They can walk around the forest in solemn contemplation, mournfully watching zip wires and swimming pool fountains spraying at half-mast.

While the holiday park operator didn’t go that far, it was amusing as an onlooker—rather than a disappointed customer—to see Center Parks with Monday bank holiday marking Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. Its Twitter account flip-flopped, previously telling holidaymakers they would have to leave for a day before backlashing backlash, with the company suggesting vacationers be barricaded in their kitchens.

It was an operational and public relations mess. Stephen Waddington, PR consultant and former head of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, was incredulous: “You’d be surprised how many people got past this?” pointing to lack of women on board“In most households, women are the most important decision-makers on holidays”, he stressed.

It’s a silly and confusing call, but it’s unlikely to cause long-term harm. This was in contrast to the uproar of Gerald Ratner’s 1991 speech, in which the jeweler described his wares as “total crap”. Or the comment of David Shepherd, brand director of menswear group Topman, a decade later that the target customers were “hooligans”.

It is surprising that Center Parks had not planned such an event. A 96-year-old queen could not last forever. And yet it’s not the only company that has faltered — partly because there’s no such thing as a unified public sentiment. Every time I refer to the Queen as the nation’s grandmother, I think with jealousy about how different she was from me—a Mancunian sporting puffed sleeves and costume jewelery until she died.

Is the Queen’s memory served by a deferment of hospital operations or school closures? There is no doubt that memorial gatherings will be just as honorable – or even more so – than families watching TV at home. Was Guinea Pig Awareness Week, out of respect cancelled, really in danger of eclipsing the royal family’s grief?

I’m not arguing for a bank holiday of fun and mass consumerism, but some companies seemed eager to mark the occasion. Do Adult Emporium en Summers, Poundland, or the company that sells amyl nitrate need to air their condolences on social media? This is proof that virtue-signaling is not limited to the Left alone. PR consultant, Mark Borkowski, observed that “brands are hostages to social media” and have “lost confidence”. [about] communicating in a direct manner”.

Companies are not required to respond to every news event. When Prince died in 2016, I was watching Minnesota-based cereal maker Cheerios and producer 3M express my sympathy to his resident music star. Although they deleted their tribute, it didn’t feel as mercenary as Crocs, the footwear company, tweeting Ziggy Stardust Lightning Flash over the death of David Bowie.

Sometimes social media statements can be an attempt to signal inclusivity but often just prove useless. take fifa twitter Post is celebrating Pride Month – which was increasingly exposed as hypocrisy since the football governing body awarded the World Cup to Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are illegal.

In any case, the Queen’s most enduring example is of dignified restraint. or as a PR specialist keep This: “If you have a royal warrant it’s fine to put something in there, but otherwise just SHOW . . . UP.”

emma.jacobs@ft.com

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