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30 . 04 . 18

Wetherspoons bars social – and raises a glass to print

Words by: Print Power
JD Wetherspoons has deemed social media ‘marketing hype’ and jacked it all in. Print media, it says, will do the same job, just better
Wetherspoons News.jpg

The rationale behind ditching 44,000 Twitter and 100,000 Facebook followers has raised a few eyebrows. But the move, more or less, falls in line with fears that many brands share around the apparent dearth of trust and transparency in marketing.

Talk of social media’s shortfalls has been heating up in recent months – it’s no coincidence that Collins’ 2017 Word of the Year was ‘fake news’ (that’s two words, right?).

Wetherspoons, though, is setting an interesting precedent by dismissing social media out of hand. So dramatic is its decision, that the pub chain’s founder, Tim Martin, was forced to pooh-pooh claims the move was a publicity stunt.

Not only is social a “distraction”, claims Martin, but a “waste of time” – for him and his pubs. Ouch.

In a tweet, which is now no longer available, he further justified the call: “We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business. I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers.”

How will Wetherspoons plug the gap that social failed to fill?

Spokesman Eddie Gershon told us that the Wetherspoon News quarterly print magazine, which has been going since 1991, remains “very popular”. When asked what advantage it brings over social media, his answer, bluntly, was that “people read it”. Fair enough.

Now that brands are wising up to the effectiveness of print media, perhaps more advertising budget holders will go against the grain – and double down on the brand-building potential of a proven platform.