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Bench billboard removal: good or bad brand publicity?

PR man Harold Geronimo gives his insights
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It was a fiasco that could have been any public relations officers’ nightmare. Instead, when Mayor Benhur Abalos of Mandaluyong City said that the billboards of the members of the Philippine Rugby Football Union ‘not suitable’ for high traffic areas, it created more buzz for the billboard and the brand.

Instead of creating negative publicity, the move of the Mandaluyong City mayor, which was prodded on by Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian, generated more buzz compared to when the billboard was first put up.

Aside from social networking sites that was immediately flooded with reactions about the “suggested removal,” the fiasco also made it to the top headlines of broadsheets, tabloids, and even on national television with major networks reporting the incident, giving free prime slot publicity for Bench and the national rugby team.

Entrepreneur.com.ph asked Stratworks’ senior public relations manager Harold Geronimo to give his insights on the kind of publicity generated.

“When it was reported that Mayor Abalos wanted the billboards removed, it created buzz-around publicity. Meaning, people became curious. Even those who haven’t seen the billboards wanted to see it,” says Geronimo.

If you are one of those who believe that any kind of publicity is good, then the incident resulted in good exposure for Bench and the national rugby team.

“While they used to be in the shadow of the Philippine Azkals, the country’s football team, the controversy helped them gain popularity. After the billboard controversy, Filipinos have started to research about them,” says Geronimo.

The move of Bench to immediately bring down the billboards on the same day, without questioning the jurisdiction or authority of Mayor Abalos over the billboards, showed that the brand was compliant with the government.

“It showed the brand in a very positive light, as it removed the billboards on the same day. The controversy now gives them new marketing opportunities as more consumers want to see the photos of the national rugby team,” says Geronimo.

Bench is currently selling a calendar with the rugby team members clad in underwear for P69.00.

Photos courtesy of Chuvaness.com

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