Schweppes: ‘We didn’t authorise agency to invite professional models to public competition’

SchweppesSoft drink giant Schweppes has said it did not authorise its public relations agency Professional Public Relations (PPR) to ask professional models to appear for free in its Schweppes Fancy Food Fight competition.

Yesterday Mumbrella revealed how an intern at PPR’s Melbourne office sent a group email to more than 40 professional modelling agencies asking them to be involved in an unpaid “casting call” for the Schweppes Fancy Food Fight, and urging them to enter clients into the competition on Facebook, which is open to members of the public.

In the wake of the coverage PPR issued an apology.

“We’re aware of the competition,”said Robyn Newman head of corporate affairs at Schweppes, “but the intention was not for models to be invited and we certainly weren’t aware that this particular invitation was being extended.

“The purpose of promotion was to reward Schweppes Facebook fans so the idea was to recruit Schweppes lovers.”

In an additional statement Schweppes said it had not engaged PPR directly on the campaign but did not believe further action was warranted:

The Schweppes Fancy Food Fight is a promotion for Schweppes brand lovers to experience the excitement of Schweppes Mineral Water in a fun and unique way.

The promotion intends to recruit genuineSchweppes Facebook fans for this ‘money can’t buy’ opportunity.

Schweppes did not engage PPR as the agency for this promotion.  However, we don’t believe any further action is warranted.

Schweppes uses professional models in many of its ads, and we recruit them through agencies, paying the appropriate rates.

After being approached by Mumbrella yesterday, PPR apologised and said it was “simply attempting to use our networks to spread the word”. It also conceded “our rationale was not made clear in the communication developed by our team, and for this we accept responsibility.”

The PPR attempt to use Facebook as a source of models has highlighted what many professional model and celebrity agencies are describing as a growing industry problem of ad agencies pushing model agencies and their clients to provide free labour in return for ‘greater profile’ from television commercials and other forms of advertising.

Deborah Gray, head of Ava Model Management yesterday told Mumbrella: “This is becoming a more and more common thing. It used to be that nobody would have the nerve to ask a professional agency and its models to do this.”

Gray said that she was concerned about a culture within agencies of using Facebook for free models.  “I don’t think this is coming from the main bosses or at least I hope its not,” she said.

“I think this is coming from less senior PR people who are younger who have been brought up marketing on Facebook and now almost every company will put out a little Facebook model search. It is a cheap way of getting models basically.”

Nic Christensen


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