This story, which was sourced from several published reports, has been updated to reflect errors that were pointed out by Advantage SA and add new information. According to the company, the goldfish were hand delivered—not mailed, as originally reported—and none of the fish died en route. Also, the fish were delivered to media buyers, not media outlets. PR Daily regrets the error.
It might be late in the year, but this
PR blunder could be among 2011’s most ridiculous.
On Nov. 22, Advantage SA and Advantage Adelaide, Australian firms that promote South Australia,
hand delivered a number of goldfish to various media buyers with the following tagline: “Be the big fish in a small pond and come test the water.”
According to a report on News.au.com
, 50 of the goldfish were killed during the journey.
One recipient, an Australian marketer, posted a photo a goldfish that had died to a blog
. The blogger noted, “Not a good look for Advantage SA, which is trying to promote South Australia as an attractive place to advertise.”
However, the firm says that none of the fish died en route. In a statement, Karen Raffen, the head of Advantage SA, explains:
"All fish were healthy when they arrived at their destination. We worked closely with interstate fish suppliers in close proximity to each of the offices to which they were delivered. Each fish was carefully hand-delivered and was housed in a large, sterilized bowl with fresh water. The fish were fed before they were delivered, and each arrived with enough food to last six months."
Helen Sunderland, a communications executive at Advantage SA, said in an email to PR Daily
that after the fish were delivered, the firm received three complaints from the same organization.
The fish were still alive, she explained. The people who lodged the complaints were concerned that nobody could care for the fish.
Advantage SA immediately offered to pick the fish up and find them suitable homes. The offer was ultimately declined, and the three people opted to care for their fish.
Since Tuesday 22 November Advantage SA has not received any further complaints about the health or welfare of the fish. We learned through an article published on mUmbrella on Monday 5 December that at least one fish had died, and that it had died on Sunday 4 December: 13 days after it had been delivered.
Raffen, meanwhile, apologized on ABC Radio Adelaide.
“We offer our sincere apologies," she said. "There was absolutely no intention to cause distress or harm to the fish."
The firm plans to contribute to the Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA.