Thursday 29 January 2009

Chav free holidays: Super snobbery or a clever PR stunt?

I bet you’d never heard of Activities Abroad before yesterday had you? In fact even now you may not know who they are but chances are you’ve seen the headlines about the company offering ‘Chav free holidays’. Chardonnays, Biancas and Dazzas need not apply, thank you very much.

Though intended to be tongue in cheek, the story has sparked a bit of a backlash from the ‘chav’ monikered public, and Director Alistair McLean fanned the flames by saying things you just shouldn’t say: "Everybody else in our society [except for the middle classes] seems to take from us whether it is incompetent bankers or the shell-suited urchins who haunt our street corners." Ouch.

But right and wrong aside, was it a successful marketing campaign?

The comments have certainly generated a lot of media interest. The story was covered in all the nationals as well as
blogs, and while people expressed shock and outrage at the comments McLean gave, how many of them were secretly thinking “hmm, he has a point though”?

The question in my mind is whether or not McLean was actually being very smart and knew that controversial comments like his would get him press attention, with of course the old adage that no publicity is bad publicity. Or indeed if the opposite is true and he just got very very lucky.

Either way, you know about the company now. The “shell-suit wearing urchins” will no doubt continue to stay away (although this might be a purposeful boycott now rather than lack of interest), and if you do happen to be looking for a holiday away from the Costa del Chav, you might just have found the answer.

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