‘Sponsor pulls out of Oxford and Cambridge skiing trip after students strip off in the snow’.  These were the shocking headlines that recently greeted readers of the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail.

Scott Dunn, the upmarket tour operator, agreed to sponsor the Valley Rally at Varsity Trip TwentyTen – 2500 Oxbridge students on holiday in Val Thorens.

Chicks on Varsity Trip

Unfortunately it turned out that this particular event involved a number of fairly unpleasant games and other student shenanigans.  When Scott Dunn belatedly discovered this, they ‘distanced’ themselves from the event.

This was a great story for the middle-class press: posh kids, a posh sport and some salacious evidence of the decline of moral standards in the youth of today.

Scott Dunn is a tour operator at the top of the market, with a superb reputation for product and service. Given that Oxbridge students earn higher incomes than other graduates, it’s easy to understand why they would want to get involved, presumably hoping to sell more holidays to this group when they moved into the workplace.

The story was broken by ‘The Cherwell‘ – the Oxford University student paper.   Scott Dunn were quoted as being ‘unaware‘ of what had taken place.   The good old Currant Bun (‘The Sun’) have some of the best journalists in the UK and picked up the story.

Did you know how British journalism works?   Those cheeky chaps at The Sunday Telegraph get their stories from ‘The Sun’. And the Daily Mail read the Telegraph.  You get the idea.

So, what’s the point here?   Have Scott Dunn had their reputation tarnished?   Nope.  In fact, they’ve benefited significantly by persuading the nation’s press to continually print their brand name close to the words ‘up-market travel firm’.  No one would expect any similar inappropriate behaviour on a Scott Dunn holiday.

Conclusion – Scott Dunn are massive winners.  Their brand has been given acres of free publicity, which has reinforced their positioning.  Okay, so a small minority of the students will forever bear a grudge, but most will get older, earn decent money and ultimately book ski holidays.

And why not with Scott Dunn?  They’ll have an extra anecdote to share at dinner – they time they…or maybe they’ll just keep that one to themselves?