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Public Relations (PR) Politics Boris Johnson

Will Boris Johnson's foul-mouthed tirade at cab driver damage Brand Boris?


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

June 18, 2015 | 4 min read

What a day to be alive, Boris Johnson is at it again and has endeared himself even further into the public’s heart. Ever since I saw Bozza J headbutt a German sportsman in the nuts during a celebrity football game, I knew he was my kind of politician.

As the race to replace ‘Don’t Call Me Dave’ steps up, Boris needed some fresh impetus to take him ahead of Boring Boring Osborne and swearing at a black-cab driver has done it. Will it damage Brand Boris? No! Let’s face facts, after estate agents, public relations folk (hi) and politicians, black cab drivers are probably fourth in line for the most distrusted profession out there.

In-between moaning about short journeys, refusing to go south of the river and eating Ginsters pasties, cab drivers are a militant bunch and Uber is their current obsession. This is because it threatens to disrupt their industry… something that every other industry, with the probable exception of funeral directors and anything associated with Simon Cowell, has had to go through.

Team Bozza is briefing out that this particular cabbie is a “serial heckler”, a nice line and one that probably means we can all now be labelled “serial hecklers” given the majority of us mumble obscenities at politicians when we see them in the street.

Realistically though, what will it mean for Boris? Nothing. Is this worse than the time he got caught in a zip wire, sporting the male equivalent of a camel-toe, 50 feet up in the air, mumbling obscenities? No. Worse than the time he was forced to go to Liverpool to apologise for insulting the locals, and allegedly called it “Operation Scouse Grovel”? No.

Over the years Boris has been accused of the following: making up quotes for a national newspaper, copying text from a book whilst at Oxford, upsetting Portsmouth, upsetting Liverpool, and, rather bizarrely, trousering the cigar case of one of Saddam Hussein’s besties and being forced to hand it over to Scotland Yard… and there are lots more.

The (long-winded) point I am trying to make it that Boris has potentially upset someone from possibly every social demographic and yet he still rides high in the hugely important stakes of public opinion. The none-media-savvy muggles amongst us will think that this is because there is no brains behind it all, and everything is just “Boris being Boris”, as a recent election winner once said.

The truth is that Boris is very media savvy, super-intelligent and surrounded by super-people. He knows what he is doing and this is best evidenced by his recent indiscretion that was conveniently caught on film.

I imagine a behind-closed-doors-Boris may have used somewhat more colourful words, and yes, I know he was fairly colourful in the language he actually used. He said enough to get his point across and more importantly, enough to ensure that if the exchange did ever surface, he would be seen to be taking on a group of people that the public don’t actually like that much.

The icing on the cake would now be for Bozza to take on Kay Burley in a Sky News showdown. What a battle that would be, and something I would pay to watch. Bozza J, you just moved one step closer to the top-job. Congratulations.

Andy Barr heads up the PR agency 10 Yetis and tweets @10Yetis

Public Relations (PR) Politics Boris Johnson

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