Bad Relations…

The adage all publicity is good publicity is probably overused and certainly does not stand up to close scrutiny. But even those believing in such a philosophy would be surprised by some of Ibiza’s  public relations gaffs that seem to be coming in quick succession – and this on an island that you would expect to be masters of the PR art.

The Es Vedra goat’s fiasco was a masterclass in mismanagement. There are many environmentalists who feel strongly that the cull was necessary and correct however the manner in which it was undertaken and, in PR terms, more importantly the manner it was communicated to the public was so bad as to cause extreme emotions and even death threats to those responsible for implementing the policy.

Whilst the Guardia Civil may not have the same focus on public relations and their publically perceived image as that of politicians, the farcical handling of this week’s cocaine haul in Formentera was comical to a level it almost became counter-logic, in that such stupidity could not be the result of any attempted cover-up. More an episode of Frank Spencer than Machiavellian plot. The haul was initially announced to be 70kg but the first announcements published by press were at 150kg. This was later revised after the cocaine haul, which was found by a member of public on a Formentera beach, to 84kg. With longstanding folk law tales of corruption and the disappearance of seizures it is mind boggling that such a simple task of measurement could have been handled so badly.

Another surprising communication clanger has been made this week by Hard Rock Hotel in the unveiling of their 5million euro giant LED screen. The surprising aspect is that a company that must be considered among the A-list elite of branding market-eers, had paid little thought to any potential negative reaction.

Perhaps it is that we are approaching the end of the long winter and too many people with too much time on their hands, but the very vocal opposition to the screen on aesthetic, environmental and even moral grounds was  surely predictable and echoed with a similar reaction to Heineken’s now rejected intentions to plant a huge screen on the island for a private hospitality event.

… or Bad Neighbours?

All of these issues caused considerable outcry (or in the case of the cocaine seizure amusement) but perhaps we need to look to ourselves before we condemn others as being unjust and detrimental to island interests.

The Cadastral report has uncovered 5000 cases of properties in San Jose and San Antonio alone having undeclared development and therefore being undervalued for rating purposes. The Ministry of Finance has used the term fraud to define those who have not fully declared such development. The outcome of the Cadastral equates to 1million euros in IBI property tax (rates) per annum. That is 1 million euros in lost public revenue per year.

Whether we find the morality of a 5million euro spend on an LED screen acceptable or not, it is at least private money and few could argue with, or more to the point few reject the income from, the positive impact Hard Rock Hotel and their kin have had on maintaining the island’s tourist trade relied upon by so many of us.

 These rateable value ‘frauds’ are situations where, if the Ministry of Finance’s terminology is to be accepted, 3000 property owners in San Jose alone have been denying the public purse of 1 million euros in income year on year, for who knows how long.

I do not believe for one moment that many of those 3,000 would have seen themselves as committing fraud, and it is a drop in the ocean compared to the wider ‘black money/white money’ culture that has been endemic in Spain for so long. Nor would most of us consider somebody who had built an extension without permission in the same way we might a benefits cheat, but is it so different? Both are in effect cheating the state out of money at the expense of the general population.

In comparison to goats, led screens, and now mosques, I have seen nothing of outcry over this issue. Perhaps that is because we are all guilty, we all defraud the state when opportunity to do so presents itself, because that is ’the Spanish way’.

It is far easier to throw blame and criticism for our woes at faceless corporations or easy target politicians, but those in glass houses, whether they have planning permission or not, should not be throwing stones.