Like many of you we received the follow up complaint below from the BBC today. Those of you who’ve been away cast your mind back to our blog posts and complaints to the BBC and OFCOM ref Chef Antony Demetre’s comments on the Saturday Kitchen show that he ‘became a coeliac’ and ‘..eats as much pizza and pasts he can get every 3 months’. See our archive for all the previous blogs - then read on…
In a wierd co-incidence it didn’t go unnoticed by us that today there appeared a large PR feature in London’s Metro newspaper for city commuters on the joys of gluten free Quinoa featuring Coeliac chef himself - Antony Demetre! Ironically it was entitled, ‘Coeliac Awareness Week: How to give up gluten’. See here: Metro.
Well - we thought you know what they say ‘Any PR is good PR’. Yet we couldn’t help but think that the article which heavily focused on Antony’s career and his many restaurants was more ‘personal’ PR than ‘public’ relations PR. It seemed that this was his opportunity to redeem himself to Coeliacs and their friends and families for the faux pas he made implying he and people with Coeliac Disease like himself could continue to eat gluten.
In part that approach of ‘lie low then do a PR-y something or other’ may have worked. After all most Coeliacs want an easy life. Geez it’s hard enough reading every drink and food label let alone finding the time to write complaint emails or blogs! Plus the ‘glutengate’ incident as it’s been wryly called online was now over a month ago. Yet as if illustrating that Antony’s PR team really don’t know much about crisis PR, engagement, positive messages, celebrity branding etc they launched the piece in the London paper today whilst the BBC was still replying to many annoyed Coeliacs! Oh and did we mention that Coeliac Awareness week in the UK starts from next week not this? Ah, but we mustn’t grumble about small details like that!
It’s also worth bearing in mind that like retail sales PR has a cumulative effect. After all were it not for the poor initial response from the BBC, his agent and then his agent’s blog post on Antony all of which smacked of ignorance of Coeliac Disease and a blase laissez-faire attitude on the condiition we’re sure that the complaints would have died down a lot earlier. I mean all we and many other Coeliacs wanted was an offical apology/ correction in writing or live on air on the following week’s show. After all a gluten free diet for us is for life not just for Easter. So we tend to remember faux pas, especially big ones on national TV by a chef claiming to empathise and be a Coeliacs himself.
So today for us it was:
+ 5 points to Antony for raising awareness of Quinoa
(as the article glossed over Coeliac Disease)
-10 was our score to him in our minds for original faux pas
Bringing todays PR piece in the Metro to a total of - 5
Aka still more work to do Antony if you really want to redeem yourself to Coeliacs and their friends and families. A proper sorry and offer to do some real long term awareness raising with the UK charity Coeliac UK might soften us all up a bit. In fact what would really win back our trust is if you actually took part in Coeliac UK’s challenge to eat gluten free for a week. After all judging by your comments on air we’re concerned that you don’t really understand Coeliac Disease or what going gluten free for life means. So we’re sure Coeliac UK could help you out with guidance to get you on the right track next week. You can join them here.
But we digress! Back to the BBC response, here it is in full
(we’re still awaiting OFCOM’s outcome):
Excuse us - we’re now off to rustle up some GF Pasta and sauce for dinner. Then we’ll be logged on to lodge our complaint to the BBC’s Editorial Complaint Unit. After all when you consider that there are numerous committees to ensure disability and green issues are tackled and intergrated effectively within the media surely they can get a cooking show featuring gluten free food right - right?
If you still feel that the previous BBC responses missed the mark in addressing their lack of editorial intervention to put his comments into context, or pushed back Coeliac Disease awareness raising and mis-led viewers then join us in complaining politely and logically to the BBC.
Cite the grounds of: misleading broadcasting, inaccurate, dangerous to health (especially for newbie Coeliacs who may think they can cheat on the diet) e.g.offensive to coeliacs (misinformation and frustrating to view it) and harmful. The comments were not put into context by the producers so they were misleading and led viewers to believe, (through lack of editorial input on the show), that coeliacs can cheat on the gf diet and remain healthy.
This is very concerning when you consider friends and family watch the show, chefs and other hospitality industry viewers. What message did that show send out? Can you imagine a similar show on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen programme featuring a Diabetic chef who admits he regularly misses taking his insulin or metaformin and then says he binges on cakes and sweets ‘cos he just has to to balance his sugars’?
Hmm we think not. Yet the show was on a parr with that. However, for some reason the BBC and the production company and Antony’s agent have all dismissed the complaints as ramblings of a handful of faddy gluten-freers instead of complaints from a community of people who have to manage their health through diet as there is no cure for Coeliac Disease.Yes we’re only 1% of the population yet our personal circles, our friends, family, colleagues are all effected in part by our gf lifestyle so we have reach and influence in the food market. Gluten Free products are more expensive than the mainstream and we’re loyal to great brands. So media companies should be embracing us not alienating us. QVC recently showed in the USA that they understand this by putting on a GF show. Why can’t the institution that is the BBC here get it right?
Or is this response to the Coeliac community and our complaints just indicative of the ignorance about Coeliac Disease? Do the producers and editors not understand the harm it causes if people with it don’t go strictly gluten free? Perhaps. Yet in that case we feel it’s all the more reason we see the complaints process through. So that we can ensure a publicaly funded broadcaster does not make an ill informed mistake like this again. After all don’t we just want to be treated like everyone else - fairly and with respect? The replies we have all received to date fail to do that. They show a lack of understanding and a blase attitude to the complaints and the time we have all taken to lodge them.
What do you think?
Will you complain or will you just tune into different shows and vote with your TV, feet and purse instead?