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A response to Hamleys – This most definitely isn’t over

by Darren

Now this campaign is over, we’ve consolidated some of these posts – updates from throughout the day on 1 December are now on this post below the response to  Hamleys.

James Barisic has issued a response to the Hamleys statement that was released earlier today.  I won’t say anything else or issue a separate response because this is brilliant and needs nothing added to it.  We want Hamleys to know that this issue isn’t over, we will keep going and have more plans ahead.  Please check back later for updates on what we plan to do next.

The statement by James Barisic:

I would like to thank Hamleys for their statement. Aside from anything, it is nice that they have actually made some contact with the many thousands of people who have been trying to contact them by email, social media and telephone.

We understand from sources that the reindeer that were due to be at Hamleys yesterday undertook a fairly horrific six hour journey due to the weather and the traffic – and that was the reason that it was cancelled.  Personally, I would not fancy being stuck in the back of a lorry for six hours and I would have the advantage of knowing why I was in the back of the lorry and where I was going.

It is interesting that Hamleys claim to be responsible and have been in contacted with various authorities when the London Zoo and RSPCA have both expressed concern at what is happening.  It is also interesting that you say that you have been in touch with the RSPCA because yesterday on Twitter, they seemed to know nothing about it. Neither did Westminster Council when we contacted them.

To be clear, penguins and reindeer do not live inside. It is not a natural or pleasant place for them to be. Indeed, in your Glasgow store, we understand that the reindeer are going to have to be on the second floor – unless they are using Santa’s sleigh to get to the second floor, that will also not be a pleasant experience.

Standing in front of dozens and dozens of over excited children will also not be a pleasant experience. For anyone – least of all the penguins.

Also, there is already a photo online of the size of the pen for the reindeer and, if that is anything to go by, it’s hardly large.

As for ‘this is all about the magic of Christmas’, let’s look at that shall we? Firstly, Christmas happened in the Middle East. I know that on your website, you thought that penguins come from the North Pole – when they actually come from the South Pole – so your geography skills ’ain’t all that’, but, let me tell you, even with my C grade at GCSE, I can tell you that the Middle East ain’t nowhere near the North Pole OR the South Pole. So there were no penguins in the Christmas Story.

Secondly, Santa lives in Lapland which is in the north of Finland, not on the North Circular.  Part of Finland is in the Arctic Circle, which is the bit at the top of a globe (assuming that you are holding it right), which is near the North Pole – which has nothing to do with penguins.  I’ve been to Lapland and I can confirm to you that there are no penguins there.

Thirdly (and I was a little shaky on this point, so I have checked in both the religious and more secular texts on the Christmas holiday), nowhere does it say anything about transporting penguins about in lorries and having children stress them out. Nowhere!

This is only about ‘the magic of Christmas’ because you have weighed up the cost of getting some penguins in against your bottom line and gone ‘ooh, that looks magic!’.

Seriously, though, I have been trying to contact you through the telephone, LinkedIn, Twitter and by email – both you and your PR agency. I wanted to have a quiet word with you – privately. But clearly you do not want one.

What I wanted to talk to you about was the way that power has shifted since your consumers went on to social media.  I do a lot of work in that field and it is quite rare to see a company get it so spectacularly wrong.  What is happening now will only get worse.  I don’t say that in any threatening way, it’s just a fact. It looks horrendously arrogant for you to stand in front of your customers, firstly saying nothing and then basically telling us that we don’t know what we are talking about and that we aren’t very Christmassy.

We really are.

We love Christmas.

We love penguins and reindeers too.

And we love Hamleys.

You are trustees of that name.  You hold it for all of us that have ever gone there and had that wonderous experience. And, right now, you are being badly led down an alleyway in which that great name is being sullied.

This is not the 1970s or the 1870s. We know that you think you have done your best by trying to pick people who will look after the animals as best they can. We get that.

The thing is, we just don’t think that reindeer and penguins should ever be used in store.

We are pleading with you.  We are pleading with the great, great name of Hamleys.  We are pleading with that bit of wonderment that we all had as children when we went into your store.

We are pleading with you – PLEASE do not use live animals in store and ruin the name of Hamleys for ever.


Updates from throughout 1 December as they originally appeared on a separate post:

Well, 3 days in. I didn’t think it would take this long once we got going, but we’re here for the long haul. Thank you everyone for your efforts on this. It’s been fabulous. Now we want them to see sense and stop the reindeer and penguin stunts. We’ll post updates here throughout the day as events move on.  Please keep tweeting about this using the hashtag #sHamleys.

– The Sun have covered the protest in the paper today. It’s on page 17 and can also be seen here

James Barisic has asked people to email Hamleys today. If you haven’t already done so, please email and if you’ve already done it earlier this week, please send them another. But be polite!

– Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans is running a Twitter poll on the issue of use of live penguins in store.  Please tweet #fruitcake NO to register your vote.  You can see the results on the Memoirs of a Fruitcake website.  Current polling at 11.12 am is 74% against and 26% for.

– I have just spoken with student journalist Michael Greenfield from City University (London) who is doing an audio piece on the campaign.  He’ll be posting the piece tomorrow and I will of course let you have a link.

– Have just called Hamleys (020 7479 7317).  It seems that they are no longer putting people through to a mailbox as some other callers have reported.  The telephone operator said that the Head of PR would call me back.  I asked specifically if he was taking calls on this subject, and she said “oh yes, absolutely.”  We’ll see – if and when he does call me, you’ll be the first to know!

Sky News and the London Evening Standard are both now covering the story.  Hopefully the rise of mainstream media coverage will keep the pressure on Hamleys.  Please go and comment on these stories.

– Hamleys seem to be telling news organisations that they’re going ahead with the events.  Let’s hope if the weather is bad wherever the reindeer are coming from, they don’t put profit before welfare again tonight and make them sit on the motorway for hours.

– Hamleys’ PR Agency is 77 and can be contacted on 0207 492 0977.  Please contact 77 and let them know your thoughts – please be polite and state the case calmly.  77 have also worked for RSPCA – this seems like a conflict of interests for 77 in the circumstances but sure it wouldn’t do anything to impact on the RSPCA’s animal welfare responsibilities.  The RSPCA doesn’t see there being a conflict of interests.

Brand Republic have blogged about this and think that the long-term PR damage will far outweigh the short-term stunt.

– Hamleys have now released a statement.  They are going ahead with the stunts and don’t see any problems.

– I’ll be speaking with James shortly after 5pm, and we’ll have a response to Hamleys statement then.

James has responded to Hamleys statement with his own brilliant rebuttal of their points.

– Louise has been drumming up political support and we will update you more on that once things are confirmed.

– Brilliant animal welfare charity One Kind have blogged their response

– The Sun is now running a poll on the issue – currently 64% of respondents are opposed to Hamleys actions.  Please vote with your opinion.