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PR stunts – do they work?

Publicity stunts are an excellent way to bring attention to a brand, and are particularly valuable for small businesses who lack significant PR budgets. Doing something unusual, entertaining or shocking and associating it with your brand can bring a huge return on investment, particularly if the stunt is recorded on video and subsequently goes viral.

However, PR stunts don’t always work well. Good stunts must not only elicit a positive emotional reaction, but also relate to a wider campaign in order to leverage that reaction. Here are some of The Pack’s favourite stunts from recent years…


NowTV’s giant statue of Jeff Goldblum

How do you celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park? Erect a giant statue of Jeff Goldblum posing seductively directly in front of Tower Bridge, that’s how.

This stunt was the brainchild of NowTV, which aimed to capitalise on anticipation surrounding the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in summer 2018. According to reports, the statue weighed 331 pounds, was over 9.8 feet high, and nearly 23 feet long.

While masses of visitors flocked to see the statue in all its (unbuttoned) glory, NowTV ensured maximum buzz and curiosity by only leaving it there for a short period of time.


Ghostbuster’s marshmallow man at Waterloo Station

A PR/experiential hybrid; Launched just in time for the release of the Ghostbusters movie, it involved a giant version of the Marshmallow Man welcoming commuters to Waterloo station.

One of the most ‘Instagram-worthy’ stunts due to sheer size and scale, it was widely documented by passers-by.

As well as capitalising on the nostalgia of the character itself, the creative spectacle also meant that anyone who saw it would be likely to appreciate it – instead of just film buffs or hardcore Ghostbusters fans.



Paddy Power and Juan Direction

Paddy Power is another brand that’s well-known for publicity stunts. One of its greatest was the time it sent a mariachi band to serenade Donald Trump as he arrived in Glasgow in 2016.

Why, you might ask? It was simply in response to Trump’s promise to build a wall between Mexico and the US during his presidential campaign.

While it sounds like a completely random stunt, it was in fact related to Paddy Power taking bets on political results.

This is a great example of a brand capitalising real-time events to drive marketing or PR campaigns. Stunts like this come with the danger of controversy, of course, but with Paddy Power successfully building up masses of fans due to its bold and brash humour – it was received with appreciation.


Jackpotjoy and a giant rubber duck

“Blow it up and float it down the Thames” has become one of the largest PR clichés in recent years, mainly thanks to an endless stream of brands ranging from eBay to Airbnb participating in the activity.

Is it too predictable? Probably. But the main aim of PR stunts is to make an impact on passing consumers – and this tactic can be undeniably successful.

One of the best examples is Jackpotjoy.com sending a giant rubber duck down the river in 2012. It was done to celebrate the launch of Facebook FUNdation – an initiative to reward people who do silly things to make people happy. And what’s nuttier than a giant rubber ducky on the Thames?

By doing something so silly, Jackpotjoy successfully demonstrated what it was promoting (and captured the attention of perplexed passers-by in the process). This makes the stunt far more memorable than ones from brands that have merely jumped on the trend.

If you’re considering an activity to boost your brand or launching a promotion that could need some management, we can help! Throw us a bone on 01325 486666 or info@harveyandhugo.com to find out what we can do.


Related links:

Grin and bear it – When PR campaigns go wrong

Nike PR campaign courts controversy

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