My Top 5 Favourite PR Campaigns of 2018

As we enter 2019 bright eyed and hopeful, it is almost impossible to not reflect and reminisce on the year that has just passed us. For me, 2018 marked the end of my placement year working as a Regional Communications Content Intern at the Walt Disney Company, Ltd. in London, but also saw my love for all things PR heighten. Living in London and working in Communications exposed my mind to some absolutely amazing and absurd PR campaigns/stunts. The creativity and detail is second to none, and taught me a lot about the logistics behind creating/brainstorming PR campaigns to seeing them gain viral success. From small scale PR stunts or wide scale events, the process behind creating an idea or event and the entrepreneurial nature of PR is something that I strive to be involved in.

On that note (and in no particular order), I think it is only fair to showcase some of my absolute PR favourites from 2018:

FRIENDS DELIVEROO

  1. The One with Deliveroo recreating Rachel Green’s infamous ‘Meat and Sweet’ trifle from FRIENDS

Like the majority of the population, I truly am a FRIENDS fanatic (especially now that it graces our screens via Netflix!) so this campaign immediately caught my eye. Back in May, Deliveroo cleverly saw a perfect opportunity to optimise on the 14 year anniversary since the last episode of FRIENDS aired on television. Created by Talker Tailor PR and paying homage to this iconic moment from the show, the £6 trifle is a duplicate of the iconic desert (a concoction of lady fingers, custard and beef) , which saw character Rachel mix-up two recipes stuck together in a cookbook.  FRIENDS fans were able to order the trifle via the Deliveroo app for one day only, or get a taste of the action at the Regina Phlange pop-up shop.

In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “what’s not to like? custard, good. jam, good. beef, GOOD!”

GREGGS

  1. Gregg’s Goes Gourmet for Valentine’s Day

Although Gregg’s is an up and coming dining experience in Ireland, it is a fan favourite franchise in the UK. My colleagues were shocked and appalled that I had never tried the delicacy of a Gregg’s sausage roll or meat pie, so I took it upon myself to try this local cuisine whilst in London. After hearing so much about Gregg’s, it was impossible for me not to spot their Valentine’s campaign day (especially considering the campaign attracted a whopping 350 pieces of coverage).

For some people, love equals a fancy three course meals, to other it equals a meat pastry. Created by Taylor Herring PR, selected shops ranging from London to Newcastle were transformed into restaurants designed for romance. Complete with mood lighting, a cellist, roses, candelabras and white linen tablecloths – this was a Valentine’s Day date you could dream of, and all for just £15 for one day only. This limited edition menu included 4 courses, each with a Valentine’s Day twist.

This cheap but tasteful alternative went down a treat for millennials, struggling to treat their better halves to a romantic Valentine’s Day experience. The novelty of this PR stunt combined with the Instagrammable/ Snapchatable aspect was the perfect combination for a PR success story.

M&S1

  1. Marks and Spencer: The Royal Re-Brand

 Living in London (did I mention I lived in London this year?) it was impossible to avoid the wedding of the century, an utterly British celebration of the Royal Wedding between Harry and Meghan. As a quintessentially British brand, Marks and Spencer (with their own in-house PR team) became a royal wedding machine and utilised this special occasion to their full potential. Firstly, they changed a select number of stores names to: Markle and Sparkle. Although some describe the stunt as cringe-worthy, it allowed customers up and down the country to unify in the celebrations as the M&S’s website, social media accounts and store windows in the eight Royal boroughs re-branded to Markle & Sparkle to commemorate the brilliantly British occasion.

M&S2

As Harry was deemed the ultimate romantic by proposing to Meghan during a chicken supper (and who said love is dead?), M&S honoured him by changing the name of their roast chicken sandwich to ‘The Proposal’. Following the confusion over whether public guests attending the wedding will be offered food on the day, the supermarket has pledged to give away free meals to those fortunate enough to be invited. M&S proved that the simplistic details can go a long way in PR and resonate well with customers.

 

4. KFC (FCK) We’re Sorry Campaign

Although it may be deemed a PR disaster, this campaign was a personal favourite of mine and a prime example of the best way to handle crisis communications chaos. Chicken lovers across the UK and Ireland were distraught to learn that KFC experienced a chicken shortage, which was kicked off after KFC switched its delivery supplier to DHL. DHL blamed “operational issues” for a disruption in deliveries, causing the fast-food chain to close most of its UK outlets. How could KFC, a brand that incorporates the word chicken into its own name, recover from a chicken shortage?

Despite some negative traction from customers on social media, some decided to tackle the shortage with humour:

KFC1

Keeping with the humorous theme, KFC and Mother London PR created the following communications to combat their negative feedback:

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The print ad rearranges the letters of its name to spell out “FCK” on a chicken bucket, utilising chicken related connotations with their website sub-heading reading, “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants.” KFC’s honesty and humour throughout this crisis allowed them to retain their loyal customer base. They remained consistent with their own brand reputation, as a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They took a risk, and as a result have set the standard for future brands experiencing a crisis.

BANKSY

5. Banksy: “Going, going, gone…”

Described by the Drum as “the PR stunt of the year”, Banksy’s famous artwork “Girl with a Balloon” was the final item of the evening sale at Sotheby’s and was sold for £1,042,000 in October. It is well known that Banksy is not keen on his work being sold at auction. To combat this, he fitted a secret shredder within the paintings gold frame, on the off chance this piece would someday go on sale.

The stunt immediately went viral, leavings fans distraught at this iconic image being destroyed and wondering how this freak accident occurred. However, Banksy himself confirmed via his Instagram that the destruction was intentional. The artist posted a picture captioned: Going, going, gone…” as well as a detailed video explaining how he built the shredder in 2006.

Despite the picture failing to fully shred, it is believed the piece has now doubled in price, as well as being remained “Love is in the bin”. Banksy’s dedication to his secretive identity and privacy is admirable and keeps fans on their toes, in anticipation that one day he will reveal his identity.

I’m certainly excited to see what 2019 brings to the world of PR, both locally and abroad, and hopefully get involved in the action myself.

 

Abigail Foran is a final year BSc Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @abigailforan ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abigail-foran-755800118/

Banksy: King of PR.

We all know the name, we all know his work but we have no idea who he is. How does someone anonymous become one of the most famous names on the planet?

Effective Public Relations.

As an artist, Banksy is undoubtedly talented but his artistic skill isn’t the reason people are so intrigued by him. It is more so because of the messages of his work and the way in which they are portrayed. Unafraid to challenge social norms, political agendas and current affairs it seems as though Banksy’s “muse” for most of his pieces are what some may see as the obvious problems in today’s society; matters that a lot of us can understand and agree with, but never really address. For example, relationships:

Image result for Mobile LoversThe piece above, appropriately named “Mobile Lovers” explicitly illustrates the reality of how mobile phones and social media is consuming our real life relationships. By creating such outspoken and quite often controversial art, Banksy speaks to his publics in a real, raw and honest way – something that we are not accustomed to in this day and age. As more and more organisations attempt to place themselves in a positive light through PR, the more saturated their methods become; we, as consumers have become very aware of what is realistic and what is a mere attempt to come across as “relatable”.

In a definition by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. And if you ask me, Banksy is a PR genius.

His most recent “PR Stunt” occurred at Sotheby’s Art Auction in London, where one of his most famous pieces of artwork “Girl With Balloon” was sold for over one million pounds. As the gavel went down on the auction, the famous painting began to “self-destruct” as attendees looked on in complete shock. Within a few minutes, Bansky posted a photograph on his Instagram page of the shredded picture with the caption “Going, going, gone…”.

Image result for banksy going going gone instagram

A few hours later, the anonymous street artist then posted this video to his Instagram account showing how he created the shredding frame ‘in case it was ever put up for auction’.

So, what did Banksy achieve from destroying his own work and why was it effective in terms of PR?

Well firstly, he got the people talking – which is ultimately the aim for every PR Image result for just got banksyed tweetStrategy right? Almost immediately, social media was bombarded with images, status’, tweets and stories about the unexpected event. From celebrities to news outlets to the general public, everyone was fascinated with the unknown figures’ latest actions.

Secondly, he got the people thinking – what was the purpose of it? Although he is well known for creating thought-provoking work, the shredding of a one-million-pound painting is certainly one to think about. I suppose there are many ways in which it could be interpreted. As an activist for the people, it could have posed as a rebellious act against the extortionate amount of money spent at these auctions. Maybe it was to give a new meaning to the piece, now named “Love is in the Bin”. Perhaps, it was just purely for the publicity. But whatever the reason, it certainly raised some questions.

And thirdly, whether he meant to or not, he upped the value of his work. After the shock of the stunt started to fizzle out experts began to discuss the new perceived value of the auctioned piece, which evidently got higher, although we are not yet sure by how much. The lady who made the final bid of £1.4m decided to go ahead with her purchase as she now felt that she had a “piece of art history”.

As a former art student, I admire Banksy’s work. And as a final year PR Student, I am in complete awe of his Public Relations methods. It is clear that nothing about Banksy’s reputation is an accident and he knows exactly how to get the right reaction from his publics; that is why Banksy is the King of PR.

 

Shannon Hegarty – final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-hegarty-594193172/ and Twitter: @shannonhegPR