Pothole PR

I often like it when blogs applaud their hero/thought/image of the week – bestowing someone or something a small spot of online importance, while entrusting yourself as the insightful judge with excellent taste (at least in theory). However, given my pitiful struggle to maintain any form of post regularity, my hero today will likely be a one-off victor, one who excels in the art of complaining. Oli Beale is such a man (or indeed the man), improving my Wednesday like a giant expresso shot with his x-factor style reviews of his neighbour’s late night singing. With his perfectly executed sarcasm, and humorously packaged anger, it is safe to say that I am a fan.

My first official attempt at a complaint was when, aged 11, I sent a list of grumbles to Nestle regarding the appearance, taste, and even festive imagery of my chocolate calendar. In response, I received 5 chocolate bars and a typed letter; highlighting that if in doubt sugar is the answer. A few years later, I mounted another carefully worded attack on Barclays, followed by a more verbal and offensive exchange with Orange (currently ongoing). However, I suppose the key point of this post (as perhaps there should be..), is how one deals with being the ‘underdog’, and how one toes that dashed line between successful critic and maligned moaner. This campaign by Voskhod in Yekaterinburg, Russia is a good example of the former, whereby politicians were not only reminded of the bumpy blight of their country’s motorists, but were also cajoled into instigating change thanks to a few hidden cameras.

Like any well-constructed argument, the campaign was built on one single truth – politicians don’t care about potholes.. but are concerned about their public image. On this premise local site URA.RU, which writes about life in the city, went roadside – creating images of politicians, with the potholes as their palette (think gaping mouths and unflattering jaw-lines). Cue pothole PR and the roar and rumble of media – the news about caricatures became a sensation, and the politicians were left with no other alternative but to turn to tar and tarmac. I like the idea for ingeniously plotting around a neglected area of public concern, but also finding that Achilles heel and not being afraid to kick it. Negotiations we could learn from, and I would also be inspired to try – “making the politicians work” seems something of an admirable mantra.

Voskhod PR push for better roads

Voskhod play with politician's public reputations

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