It ain’t over until the CEO sings…

By May 1, 2018Media training, News

In a day when two of the UK’s biggest supermarket brands – Sainsbury’s and Asda – announced details of a proposed merger, Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Earlier in the day, he put in an impressive performance on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast programme, handling a tough line of questioning from journalist, Sean Farrington, calmly sticking to his key messages of lower prices for customers, the fact that no stores would close and the significant contribution to the economy that the merger would deliver. He even remained unflappable when breakfast show hosts, Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden got in on the act in a ‘three on one’ style interview. Even Nicky Campbell felt the need to congratulate him at the end of the interview, saying nicely dodged when he asked Mr Coupe if he had ever shopped at Aldi.

It was all going so well…

Then, later in the day a video of Mr Coupe emerged online where he was singing the 42nd Street classic ‘We’re in the Money’ while he waited to be interviewed.  An unfortunate choice by anyone’s judgement, particularly as the backlash to the merger focussed on potential job losses.

In media training courses, we often advise clients to do some warm up exercises before they go into a broadcast interview. However, it shows just how comfortable Mr Coupe is in an interview scenario to do his ‘warm up’ while sitting in front of a camera – even if he knew it wasn’t live – and provides a useful reminder that even the most accomplished spokespeople cannot afford to completely relax. The incident was swiftly addressed in a statement that showed genuine personality, with an apology and an explanation that Mr Coupe had been to see the musical 42nd Street last year. Bet he wished he’d been to see something else that night instead…

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