By Chris Gilmour

Great British Bake Off presenter Paul Hollywood is "devastated" to have offended anyone, as photos have emerged of him in a Nazi costume at a fancy dress party.

If he wants to say sorry, that's his choice - but he should add that this was taken in 2003 and it was a parody.

Most of us recall the comedy show Allo Allo. Much laughter was gained from taking the piss out of Nazis - portrayed as pompous, bumbling idiots, who allowed the French and the English to fool them over and over again.

By dressing up as Herr Flick (or whoever) Paul was merely tipping a nod to the 1980s classic comedy.

This is a storm over nothing.

Prince Harry got into hot water in 2005 for dressing in a crude imitation Nazi uniform with a swastika armband. As third in line to the throne, he was rightly expected to behave in a certain manner. Some forgave him for being a 20-year-old who displayed poor judgement.

Who was Paul Hollywood in 2003? A 37-year-old master baker, starting to do quite well for himself - with no fame to speak of.

He's also the grandson of a World War 2 anti aircraft gunner who fought the Nazis.

Social media is outraged. So what?

As crisis management goes, once he's put out his statement of the facts, he should leave the whole issue to sink faster than a soggy sponge cake.

This isn't the first time I've pointed out that social media sentiment is not always necessarily reflective of society or public opinion as a whole. Twitter/Facebook is offended. Big deal!

When Nectar announced its partnership with The Daily Mail, I watched the whole debacle unfold, and in my opinion it was a great example of how brands should not give in to social media outrage dressed up as a significant PR crisis.The Mail is the most widely read website in the world and the second highest selling paper in the UK – it’s the perfect partnership for the Nectar demographic and not one the brand would have entered into lightly.

Keyboard warriors tried to take the moral high ground by crushing any diversity of opinion which doesn’t conform to their own.

I have to praise Nectar for refusing to back down in the face of all the faux outrage and, quite frankly, blatant bullying. The company’s statement was spot on – if you don’t like this partner, don’t sign up. If you do, then go ahead.

At the time, I predicted that people weren't really going to cut off their nose to spite their face and chuck away all their points. And indeed, it turned out to be another social storm in a teacup. While a few may have cut up their cards and refused to associate with Nectar, I expect this partnership has won Nectar more customers than it lost.

After all, look at all the other brands which have teamed up with the newspaper in the past - Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco, Pizza Express, John Lewis, Debenhams, Boots and Argos.

In a crisis management situation, take stock of the fact that keyboard warriors will quite often go to town on a brand in the heat of the moment. But how many of us calm down after giving an issue some thought - or forget about it altogether?

And never underestimate the power of the silent majority. It's been seen during elections - when social media is vocal in favour of one candidate, but another wins at the ballot box.

Social media is OK for taking the temperature of a market, but it's a cover for a lot of fakery. People adopt a persona, trolls hide behind a screen to abuse others. There is so much about social platforms which are not representative of real society.


Don't panic. Contact us on 0800 612 9890 when your brand is under fire and let us find the right approach.