Whats the Quack with Hastings Ducks?

If you have previously stayed in any of the chain of luxury hotels owned by Hastings Hotels Ltd, then you will undoubtedly be familiar with the little smiling rubber duck that waits patiently to greet you on your arrival to your room.

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The duck phenomena first originated in a warehouse of an organization called Bluestep Solutions. This marketing and design agency located in the english countryside of North Hampshire were the founders of this marketing goldmine.  This is where their creative team hit the drawing board to manufacture a renowned mascot for the company and the world-famous Hastings duck was born and waddled its way into the spotlight!

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Julie Hastings the Marketing Director of Hastings Hotels Ltd and daughter of CEO Sir William Hastings said: “We introduced the ducks to our hotels almost 20 years ago and they soon became a part of the family. The ducks have always been in huge demand and guests from around the world spit feathers with excitement every time we launch a new one.” Hastings Hotels continue to maximise this marketing campaign by releasing seasonal and limited edition ducks for guests and duck enthusiasts! Examples including Paddy the duck for St. Patricks day, Christmas ducks and they have even introduced a homage for local sporting star Rory McIlroy – ‘Rory Quackilroy.’

These collector items were successful in distinguishing the hotel aside from competitors specifically regarding the Irish Open Event in 2016 – this duck was very successful due to its high demand and the quirky play on words is what intrigued many guests, especially overseas guests, that found this to be a huge hit and another duck to add to the collection!

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Julie Hastings Tweet: Happy st Patrick’s day from the lucky Hastings Irish duck! (Image of Famous Irish Actor James Nesbitt) 

People love to take the ducks home with them even when they check-out and they are becoming a consistent feature in numerous home bathrooms of regular guests, who have previously posted images of their duck collections on Trip Advisor whilst recommending the hotel for its excellent services, and novelty ducks of course!

With 3 years experience behind me working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa as well as the world-famous Europa Hotel, I personally believe the rubber ducks are more than a simple complimentary gesture or memorable souvenir for each individual guest; but more so an innovative Public Relations strategy implemented by the company to set them aside from their opponents giving them a competitive edge; as well as establishing a unique selling point which in turn improves brand awareness. The ducks are a globally recognized symbol and a marketing tool used to promote advocacy within the organization.

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It is evident that the Hastings duck serves the company as their fictional mascot that personifies and represents the brand, as they resonate significantly with the hotel guests from all over the world. Even celebrities go quackers over the ducks and throughout the years they have even met hundreds and hundreds of celebrities including: Roger Moore, Lionel Ritchie, Carl Frampton, Conor McGregor, Van Morrison and many more. They have also attended lots of showbiz events; taking the ducks on tour they have even been spotted in global events such as the Fifa World Cup, Wimbledon, and Glastonbury.

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(Image of Carl Frampton and Barry McGuigan with our Famous Friend)

Mother of Quackers –  Hastings Hotels were very excited to unveil the freshly hatched Duck of Thrones that coincided with their launch of the 2018 Game of Thrones Tour series that took place at The Ballygally Castle Hotel which set along the Antrim Coast. This is another strategy the organization employs to showcase their relationship and acknowledgement of local events. The Game of Thrones duck in particular became a huge collectors item for the world-wide fan base of the show, it is no surprise that this limited edition duck became a near necessity for the dedicated supporters of the show.

Hastings Hotels have now galvanised and cemented their spot in the hotel market in being the leading hotel for overseas guests, as a result of our recognizable rubber friends!

Meet the Duck of Thrones - available to our Game of Thrones tour guests at Ballygally Castle

The ducks not only serve as a collectors item but can be viewed as an efficient  marketing tool which can be exploited in numerous of ways. I personally believe Hastings Hotels could go one step further and generate more brand exposure as well as profit maximization by selling the ducks in the hotel gifts shops, and not to mention the added perks of utilizing the ducks in future ad campaigns and social media competitions.  The duck mascot could be implemented in social media networks, and the online presence used as an effective tool for online engagement with consumers, which is a much softer means of selling the product as opposed to blatant self promotional methods with the added effect of creating a rapport with regular and future guests. Generally speaking, the Hastings duck in turn can be an innovative driving force in the Public Relations department of the organization.


Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  https://twitter.com/celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7


Extra Extra

Extra Extra

Have you zero experience in the film industry? Do you have free time during the week?Have you ever wanted to be on TV and do you live in Belfast? If you answered yes to all of those then you would be perfect for a role on Game of Thrones, The Fall and The Line of Duty.

If you haven’t guessed already the role would be as an extra! What is an extra? It’s a non-speaking role in the background of a movie or television series and the purpose of an extra is to make specific scenes as real as possible. If you watch any of the shows you’ll understand why they would need extras but I might as well explain why to boost my word count.

‘Game of Thrones’ require a huge amount of extras because the show has massive battle scenes and so extras are essential, you could be anything from a Lannister soldier to a White Walker, if you watch ‘Game of Thrones’ you’ll get those references and if you don’t then you won’t find this blog very interesting, if you even did in the first place.’The Fall’ and ‘The Line of Duty’ are more simple, you would more than likely be playing a member of the general public as these shows are as close to reality as television could get.

The company that handle all of the extras in Northern Ireland is called ‘The Extras Department’. Here is a link to their website – The Extras Department

To sign up all you have to do is fill in some basic personal information along with your body measurements, it takes around 5 minutes to do and you can make up to £100 for a day of filming! You can even set your account up for late notice work , which means you will get a text the day before or even the day of shooting to work. Which if you’re like me and can’t commit to long term filming it’s the perfect set up.



The photos you see above this are screen-shots I took of the scene I was in from Game of Thrones season 6 episode 9 and I played a Lannister soldier (sorry, I didn’t get to choose my role). Now I know what you’re thinking, there is absolutely no way to prove that is me. Well it is me so back off, prove it isn’t me? That’s what I thought.

Anyway, this was filmed in October of 2016 and it was the last bit of extra work I’ve done! With my part-time job, university and placement right around the corner I soon lost any free time I had. The only reason I took the role was because it was a last minute text I got the day before and I was free.

The day involved me getting up at 3:30am and driving to a meet-up point where buses would then take us to the film set. We arrived to the set somewhere in Dromore at around 5am, then myself and about 100 other people were taken to get fitted for costumes for our specific roles. After that we were all welcome to breakfast and were left to wait for a producer to call us for filming. It was a constant back and forth all day of being called to film and going back to the waiting tent, but we did get fed all day and it wasn’t too hard to get a nap in between shoots! As a Lannister Soldier I was in plastic armour all day and most of the filming took place in a field that was made to look like a temporary base as the Lannister’s made there way north in the show. Filming went on for 12 hours that day (after 10 hours its time and a half) and I only got back to Belfast at around 8pm.

As a one off experience it was brilliant for a number of reasons; I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I made £120 that day, I was at one point right beside Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) & Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and ultimately ended up on the show in the most minuscule way possible (still counts).

The one thing I would suggest is to sign up with a friend! My day would have been a lot better if I had a friend to chat with and share the experience with, instead of having to make small talk with strangers to pass the time! I would recommend to any of you reading this to give being an extra a chance, especially if you like Game of Thrones and earning decent money to mostly sit around all day.

Aaron is a final year student studying Public Relations and can be contacted on Twitter @aaronoreilly and – LinkedIn

The best PR campaigns of summer 2017

During the summer months there was some really memorable PR campaigns. Here’s a few of my favourite campaigns:
1. Hidden job ad found on Apple’s site source code.
I’m sure many people have had the dream of working for apple. Well that dream could have become a reality in August when it was posted on social media that Apple had hidden a job offer on their site’s source code. The text said ‘hey there! You found us.’ It said the firm is looking for ‘a talented engineer to develop a critical infrastructure component’. I seen a post about the hidden job while scrolling through my Facebook. It was a perfect PR tactic by apple to get some publicity about their ‘inventive and creative’ job ad. Many people shared posts about it all over social media so apple definitely had people talking.



2. Walker’s ‘Choose me or lose me’ Campaign.
This PR campaign was a huge topic on twitter with people shocked and annoyed at walkers getting rid of three British favourites. They left the fate of this on the public. This ‘choose me or lose me’ referendum campaign took some inspiration from Brexit, ‘vote in or vote out’. Each ‘British’ flavour is being challenged by some international flavours. American Bacon and Cheddar challenges the popular Smoky Bacon, Spanish-inspired Paprika going against Prawn Cocktail and the classic Salt and Vinegar versus lime and black pepper from Australia. The #chooseorlose ‘crisp referendum’ started August 14th and closed on October 22nd.


3. Björn Borg plays a tennis match on the border between the U.S and Mexico

This has to be one of the best PR campaigns I’ve seen this summer. It was created by the Swedish sportswear brand Bjorn Borg. The campaign was to highlight that sports has the ability to ‘unite people’. The campaign was orchestrated in response to President Donald Trump’s ‘Build a wall’ policy. Mexican player Mariano Argote and American player Peter Clemente played a tennis match on the US and Mexican border. It was called the ‘Borg open’ one player played in Mexica and the other played in America. The campaign was an emotive and thought provoking idea of finding commonality across borders.


4. Tourism Ireland’s Game of Thrones 250ft tapestry
Tourism has increased in Ireland over recent years and this is partly due to Game of Thrones being filmed here. Ireland has benefited hugely from this and now a 250ft tapestry has been unveiled. During every episode of season 7 a new part of it was unveiled. This is an ambitious and great PR campaign by tourism Ireland as even when the show ends there will still be a part of vestros to visit for years to come. The tapestry is on display in the Ulster museum in Belfast. I know where I will be going this weekend.



Lena Coyle is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Lena_coyle Continue reading “The best PR campaigns of summer 2017”