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The Drum's New Year Honours: Political and PR triumphs and disasters – from the Yes campaign to World Cup bribery allegations

2014 was not without controversy – The Scottish referendum in September shook up the political landscape, and Qatar's winning World Cup bid was overshadowed by bribery claims.

Throughout the week, The Drum's New Year Honours has been presenting the brands, agencies, people and campaigns that have impressed the editorial team over the past 12 months.

Here we reveal our top picks of 2014's PR triumphs and political disasters.

Political campaign of the year: The ‘Yes’ campaign

Despite the referendum on Scottish independence resulting in a ‘No’ vote, the ‘Yes’ camp ran a great political campaign in 2014, and effectively won in terms of the two movements.

Highly positive and inspiring, it focused on youth, employment and finances, stating how all would be better off in an independent Scotland.

The positivity that shone through couldn’t have contrasted more with the scaremongering of the ‘No’ campaign, and its success evidenced on social, with the Twitter and Facebook channels for ‘Yes’ beating those of ‘No’ hands-down in terms of followers and engagement.

Political disaster: Labour

It hasn’t been a very good year for Labour. With a suggested coup against Ed Miliband and Ukip stealing seats away from the party, as well as summer seeing Miliband struggle to even eat a bacon sandwich without getting into difficulties, it is looking less and less likely that Labour will emerge triumphant from the 2015 election.

More recently, trouble came as one member of Labour, Emily Thornberry, stood down from her shadow cabinet position in November after being accused of snobbery for tweeting a picture of a house with a white van and English flags with the words “Image from Rochester”.

PR triumph: BrewDog #sorrynotsorry

Never one to mince its words, BrewDog took apologising to a new level in April 2014 when it wrote an open letter to alcohol industry standards group the Portman Group, apologising for “not giving a shit”.

Calling the group “a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants”, the company went on to say it hoped that the Portman Group would “kindly save some trees and stop sending us meaningless letters”.

The ‘No’ campaign

Better Together suggests positivity, but the ‘No’ campaign in the Scottish independence referendum was anything but.

With focus on what bad things could happen if the public voted ‘Yes’, the cherry on the cake was an ad which attempted to appeal to women voters. Renamed as ‘Patronising BT lady’, the advert led to a series of memes making fun of the woman and the negative Better Together campaign overall.

While Better Together may have won the vote in the referendum, it by no means won hearts in terms of its campaign.

U2 iTunes giveaway

A free album might seem like a great iTunes giveaway, but when copies of new U2 album Songs of Innocence were automatically loaded onto 500m iTunes accounts, the public was not happy. To make matters worse, the album was not easy to delete, with Apple having to create a support page providing instructions for those who were not a fan of the band.

U2 frontman Bono admitted that the tie-up happened because they were afraid that the album might not gain traction otherwise. Well, they certainly raised awareness.

World Cup bribery allegations

The World Cup might have been the biggest conversation globally on Facebook, but it has been overshadowed by bribery claims.

With three whistle-blowers alleging that Qatar bribed Fifa voters to earn the title of 2020 host country, sponsors such as Adidas, Visa and Sony have already spoken out to say that they want the claims investigated.

While Fifa said it had cleared Qatar and Russia of corruption in bidding for the World Cup, the man who led the investigation, Michael Garcia, described the report as ‘erroneous’. As Fifa made about £1bn from sponsorship during the previous World Cup in South Africa, this could mark further disaster.

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