Sainsbury’s prove good PR is easy, tiger

Have you heard about the tiger that’s turned into a giraffe?

The real story isn’t quite so magical as that sounds. But Sainsbury’s response to a letter from a little girl, which has now led them to change the name of their tiger bread to giraffe bread, was certainly inspired.

For those who missed it, the UK supermarket received a letter last May questioning the name of the pattern-crusted loaf: why call it ‘tiger’ when it was clearly not stripy? ‘It should be called giraffe bread’, the letter went on. ‘Love from Lily Robinson age 3½.’

What’s more, as of 31 January, it is – at least for now. A victory that may be for Lily (who actually ‘hasn’t got much time for’ the story, according to her mother’s blog, where the letters appeared). But it’s Sainsbury’s reputation that’s the real winner, as the story has become an internet sensation. And it’s all thanks to the well-judged and endearing reply that customer-service manager Chris King (age 27?) sent.

‘Thanks so much for your letter,’ he wrote. ‘I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?

‘It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.’

You’d also have to be pretty silly not to realise the power of social media now has over public opinion. (More than four thousand people Like the Chris King from Sainsbury’s is a legend Facebook page at the time of writing.)

Customer-service representatives probably spend most of their time appeasing angry and outraged letter-writers. But this is a great reminder that you can generate a lot of good feeling by making time for the sweet and silly correspondence too. That’s how you’ll really earn your stripes.

If you’re in the customer-service field, you might also like our article on how to make the most of positive correspondence: Now you’re talking my language.