Wayward Christmas card gets Tesco into trouble – or does it?

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Tesco is in hot water this morning after stocking a Christmas card in York suggesting that ‘ginger’ children are loved as much as ‘normal’ children by Santa.  Although the story has been reported across BBC Breakfast and various other media, Tesco hasn’t acted to withdraw these cards from all its stores – only the two in York.  It does lead me to wonder whether the company’s PR team feel it’s just not that damaging?

I’d suggest that there are a number of redheads out there who might be pretty upset about this. Some of them are subjected to criticism throughout their lives, and to be openly ridiculed on a Christmas card is pretty grim.  Tesco is the retailer that people love to hate, and I expect it might have lost a few more customers because of this.  I also find it remarkable that the cards weren’t quickly removed from sale to avoid upsetting others.

Disappointingly, the reports I’ve seen so far today have that light-hearted, jovial slant to them.  It’s incredible what the media can approve or disapprove of. The PR crisis would be explosive if race had been mentioned on the card instead (of-course the card would never have been stocked in the first place).  It’s clear the media still has the power to determine the outcome on a serious topic; the tone of reporting dictates public reaction to what is, let’s face it, a howler in Tesco’s buying department.

We’ve often seen ourselves, when placing stories with the media, how certain sectors of the population or topics are held up to be easy targets – male hair loss being one of them.  Now, I don’t know how many redheads there are in the country, but I do know that two out of three men will lose their hair, and be open to ridicule by all and sundry.

And I guess as PRs, it’s our uphill task to find the stories to alter those perceptions.