Miscommunication happens. It’s how you handle it that matters

Honest Communications, a specialist garden and home PR agency, social media management, content creation and communications agency

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…

I want brands to be able to make mistakes. But then to own them afterwards and make it work for a good cause.

Ok, it may not be as catchy as the Wannabe lyrics but there’s a reason for my (shoehorned) Spice Girls reference…


Last year, Tesco ran a campaign using an image of Mel B in her iconic leopard print ‘Scary Spice’ get up. When she saw it, Mel B took to Instagram calling out the CEO of Tesco directly for not having permission to use her image.

The situation was handled brilliantly. Whilst I’m sure legal teams were sweating behind the scenes, the management of it on social media was applaudable.

By taking it to social media and handling it herself, Mel cut out the middleman and stopped it quickly, demonstrating the enormous power of social media.

Tesco responding saying that they did in fact have permission but would remove the images and ads anyway. It seemed a genuine mistake and Mel B didn’t appear hostile; she just wanted her image to be used appropriately and the ads taking down.

It reiterated some key principles of marketing and communications – the importance of respecting brand copyright, the importance of getting the right permissions and the importance of using brand assets within the required restrictions and limitations.

It all worked out for the best though and the outcome was heart-warming. Tesco donated to Women’s Aid who Mel was working with and helped to keep the live chat line running for six  months, covering the Christmas period –  a critical time for the charity.

This is an example of PR best practice – a brand acting quickly to protect its reputation and keep the narrative positive. It also demonstrates that social media means that brands can be immediately held to account and brand reputation can be damaged very quickly, in front of a potentially enormous audience if situations are not managed swiftly and properly.