The Desperate Dan-dy? - DC Thomson's Salad Cream moment and other publicity stunts

By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

August 16, 2012 | 4 min read

This week it was reported, with a mixture of sadness and outrage, that The Dandy was facing closure after 75 years. Prompting many nostalgic responses, as well as a host of Save the Dandy Facebook pages and blog posts, the classic kids comic hasn’t found itself receiving this much publicity since…well, ever.

So why all the fuss? Nowadays, brands find themselves being chucked onto the gone bust pile with little more than a ‘thanks for the memories’ tweet. But it now seems that many are seeing ‘the end of the road’ as a last ditch attempt to push some sales, or even revive themselves altogether.

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So is this a publicity stunt? Given The Dandy’s dismal sales probably not, but other brands have also ‘gone out’ with a bang and instead seen themselves return stronger than ever. Now, here at The Drum we would not be so cynical as to suggest that brands have threatened closure to boost sales, but let’s take a look at those who have managed to keep going thanks to a little luck and a lot of PR.

Salad Cream

Way back in 1999 Heinz made it publically known, perhaps suspiciously so, that it was considering killing off its Salad Cream. All of a sudden, fuelled by nostalgia, people who hadn’t bought salad cream for years headed Save the Salad Cream campaigns and bought up as many bottles of the stuff as they could. Chefs got behind the campaigns too, with Marco Pierre White declaring the gloopy yellow sauce as ‘one of the great culinary creations of the 20th Century.’ And as sales rocketed, miraculously the folks at Heinz HQ decided to keep it going.

BBC Radio 6

Following a BBC Trust review in 2010 that explained that only one in five UK residents were aware of the station, newspapers across the county ran headlines declaring the death of Radio6. High profile social media campaigns ensued, with #SaveBBC6Music" quickly becoming a trending topic on Twitter. A Facebook group was also set up to oppose the proposed closure and gained nearly 180,000 members. After five months of rumours the BBC trust announced that it would not be closing the station.

Walsh Spice Burgers

In June 2009 panic struck the city of Dublin as news spread that Wash’s Spice Burgers would be discontinued. A social media campaign was launched with gusto as Dubliners tried to save the burger which had been a favourite with many a family since the early 1950s. A ‘Save the Spice Burger’ press campaign was launched and two weeks after the devastating news broke, the bosses at Walsh Family Foods made a U-turn and announced it was back in business.

Mortein Pest Spray

Louie The Fly is the much-loved mascot of Mortein Pest Sprays. And, with a dedicated Facebook page keeping more than 250,000 fans up to date on the Aussie fly, you can imagine the anarchy that ensued when it was announced That Louie The Fly was getting killed off. Marketing director Chris Tedesco proudly announced that ‘if the public wants to continue seeing their beloved Louie on TV screens then they can vote to save him on his Facebook page.’ But before Louie buzzed off, Mortien realised just how dear to the Aussie hearts he was and decided to keep him.

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