Effortless PR Campaigns that blew up the world of social media

Hearing new and creative PR stunts happening every day, leaves you curious how people come up with these bizarre ideas. Always so simple yet so fanatically smart. As I came across one comical PR campaign back in September, I became hooked, it has become a weekly ritual for me to look up PR stunts of the week. Some successful, some not so successful.

What makes a good PR Campaign? Personally, and most obviously, I would say that the most important factor of a good PR campaign is that it should be engaging and entertaining. Something humorous is often a success, depending on the brand or product of course. It is important that the campaign is going to make the customers want to share it with their friends through different means; social media, sharing links privately or even making people talk about it in person.

Here are some of the most successful campaigns that caught my eye over the past few months.

  1. KFC will give $11,000 to first baby born on Sept. 9 who’s named Harland

Want a quick and easy way to make $11,000? Have a baby! Well… maybe not quick, and definitely not easy. But it certainly is a way, as KFC are offering $11,000 to name your baby after Colonel Harland David Sanders himself to mark the 128th birthday of KFC.

AM10

 

This bizarre idea is a brilliant way to get the conversations sparking between customers. It is also memorable, as there is going to be a human walking around to ensure that people don’t forget the famous name.

Although this is a great way to guarantee your future child a hard time growing up at school, is it really worth $11,000?

  1. Deliveroo’s homage to the Friends meat trifle

Everybody loves friends (well, if you’re not a millennial), and Deliveroo is no exception. They boldly decided to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the final episode of friends which was back in 2004, by putting one of the show’s most infamous meals on the menu.

In “The One Where Ross Got High”, Rachel contributes to their thanksgiving meal by making the glorious meat trifle. Of all meals on the Tv show, Deliveroo decided to put this meal on the menu, available to order for £6.

Combining lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef sautéed with peas and onion, bananas and whipped cream (you read that in the voice of Rachel, didn’t you?). The desert was available to order through Deliveroo’s ‘Regina Philange’ pop-up shop for a limited time.

AM13

Apparently, to my surprise, it actually didn’t taste like feet! Reports suggest that it was unexpectedly tasty. Although as much as I fully support this campaign, the dessert would not be my cup of tea!

AM17

  1. Church stages screening of The Exorcist to raise money for restoration

This is something that I would most definitely NOT be taking part in. But it is without a doubt going to get people talking.

One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, The Exorcist was screened in a church in Strasbourg, France on the 20th of September this year as part of the annual Film Festival. The purpose of this campaign was to raise money which will go towards the structural restoration of the church.

The choice in venue goes hand in hand with the film which is based on a real-life exorcism carried out by a Roman Catholic priest in the US.

You certainly need to be a brave character to even consider appearing at a screening like this

This campaign is relative, engaging and audacious!

  1. Russians promised ‘free pizza for life’ in exchange for a permanent Domino’s logo tattoo

Unlike the above campaign, this is one that I would 100% consider taking part in. I mean, free pizza? For life? For a cute pizza tattoo? Yes please!

AM12

Domino’s Pizza in Russia launched this competition to give free pizza’s for life for anyone who got the domino’s logo permanently tattooed on their body. This took over social media pretty swiftly and there were more than plenty people willing to jump at the opportunity. Again, free pizza? Why wouldn’t you?

AM11

 

With these kinds of comical PR campaigns, the media will come to you, and the news will spread by itself. However, it is still important for the company to make it as shareable as possible. The campaign needs to be distributed wisely to the audience, ensuring that the correct target audience, socials and journalists are being reached. This will guarantee that your creative idea for a campaign won’t go to waste.

Aoibheann McKinley is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/aoibheann-mckinley 870316112 ; Twitter – @aoibheannmckinl ; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aoibhymcmua/?hl=en

Fortnite, In Real Life

If I asked you to name a company that are estimated to be valued at over 8.5 billion dollars in January 2019, Epic Games probably wouldn’t be one of the first names on your list. Epic Games, Inc. formerly Potomac Computer Systems, is an American video game developer based in Cary, North Carolina. The company was founded by Tim Sweeney as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991, originally located in his parents’ house in Potomac, Maryland.

This might not mean a lot to most people reading the opening paragraph, however one word will likely change that.

Fortnite (this does not mean 2 weeks).

To provide some context in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what Fortnite is. It is a survival game where 100 players from all over the world parachute from a big blue “Battle Bus” onto the Fortnite map and the last player alive wins. Players can also select game mode options to play as part of a team where the last team standing wins. This may seem a bit gruesome if you haven’t seen a game of Fortnite, the characters are all cartoon based and there are no blood or guts so can parents of young children please chill out.

The game has attracted massive attention, with over 40 million logins each month. Pretty good for a “free” game isn’t it? Yes that’s right, it costs absolutely nothing to download and play Fortnite yet it generated over 645 million dollars in three months. This is mostly from in-game cosmetics and the games internal currency called “V-Bucks” (which you can buy with real money) which are used to buy new characters, accessories and even dances.

Public Relations

Epic games specifically with Fortnite use very clever Public Relation strategies, which in some cases has even gained attention from the mainstream media. To add some more context, within the game there is the possibility of finding a “llama” which contains useful materials for players to use to their advantage.

E6

It is quite a good thing if a players finds a llama which are scattered all over the map and can be found anywhere. For the official launch of the much anticipated Fortnite Season 5, Epic Games organised for these in-game llamas to appear in different locations all over the world (yes real life).

This was a very unusual way to raise anticipation for the season 5 update but it got a very positive response from social media. It encouraged people who had no idea what Fortnite was to download the free game and gave Epic Games the potential to make even more money.

Durr Burger

Another example of Epic games PR stunts was “Durr Burger”. To add some context, there is a location within Fortnite called “Greasy Grove”. This place is centred on a fast food burger restaurant, whose mascot is called “Durr Burger”.

E1

Within the game at the beginning of season 5 mysterious things started happening, items were disappearing from the map and appearing elsewhere. Epic games organised this to happen with “Durr Burger”. It had disappeared from its home on the top of the restaurant and players were wondering where it was, then this happened.

“Durr Burger” was spotted in real life, like the llamas. In a Californian dessert a real life “Durr Burger” showed up, this gained a huge amount of attention on social media. Members of the public were visiting “Durr Burger”, taking photos and was a very popular topic on local radio in California.

E2

Epic Games spend a lot of time on developing Fortnite, creating new content within the game with weekly and seasonal updates to keep it fresh and attract new players. Season 7 came out with a widely-predicted Christmas themed update, but Epic Games will certainly have future surprises for us.

Eoin Crossan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eoin-crossan-848a30171/

PaddyPower’s Top 5 Publicity Stunts

PaddyPower is one of the leading Irish bookmakers who will do just about everything for some publicity, whether it be conventional marketing or controversial PR stunts,  From taking bets on whether Oscar Pistorius will “walk” from his murder trial to publishing a poster portraying Jesus and the disciples gambling at the last supper.  Personally i think most of the PaddyPower advertisements are hilarious and they continually think of  clever ways of advertising their brand. PaddyPower’s marketing department definitely produce material based on the understanding that “all publicity is good publicity”.

Below is a list of previous PaddyPower PR stunts that i believe are some of their best pieces of work.

5. Cheltenham festival pants 

JM14

During the 2013 Cheltenham festival, PaddyPower offered race-goers the chance to get the best seats in the house in a flying pair of PaddyPower underpants. The giant flying underpants were not only seen by the 70,000 people in attendance but also was picked up on live TV broadcasts. Cheltenham festival organisers subsequently demanded that PaddyPower take down their flying pair of pants following the involvement of the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

4. Nicklas Bendtner’s Lucky Pants

JM12

During a EURO 2012 group game Nicklas Bendtner coolly dispatched an equalising goal for Denmark, he then proceeds to pull down his shorts where he reveals a pair of PaddyPower lucky pants,  The stunt landed Nicklas a £80,000 fine which PaddyPower paid on behalf of Nicklas. The fine was issued on the same day that Croatian fans were fined £60,000 for racial slurs directed at Italian striker Mario Balotelli, PaddyPower publicly addressed the harsh penalty fee and were disappointed in EUFA’s “double standards”.

3. Ryder Cup Sky tweets

In a campaign to support Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament, PaddyPower decided to take to the skies above the Medinah Country Club to issue the worlds first ‘sky tweet’.  PaddyPower hired a fleet of aircraft’s to display tweets in the sky in support of Team Europe. The messages were quickly seen by the golfers and was picked up live on Sky Sports broadcasts. The campaign was so successful that BBC re-used the footage for their 2012 Sports Personality of the Year awards.

2. PaddyPower’s Drive Through Confession Box

JM10

Prior to the Pope’s visit to Ireland on August of 2018, PaddyPower erected a giant drive-thru confession box to facilitate for the Irish population to repent decades of sins from the comfort of their own car. PaddyPower even carried out a special survey before building the express lane to eternal salvation, when asked if they found it convenient to attend confession, the majority (61%) said no, and a further 15% said it could be improved, cue PaddyPowers “convenient” method of attending confession.

1.Always bet on black

JM11

Ahead of the one of the most anticipated fights the world has ever seen between undefeated Floyd Mayweather and Irish MMA champion Conor McGregor, Floyd steps up for his weigh-in, slips off his trousers only to showcase PaddyPowers bright green lucky pants with the phrase “always bet of black” embroidered on them in an apparent gut-shot to his opponent’s ‘f**k you’ pinstripe suit effort during the fighters’ promo tour for the event. Quite frankly, nobody had seen this coming especially given that PaddyPower, an Irish betting company wasn’t backing one of their own in Conor McGregor. Instead they had fledged allegiance to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather.

PaddyPower even held twitter competitions to win a free pair of PaddyPower lucky pants signed by Floyd himself.

JM13

James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/ & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jimmymcgirr

Why a PR Career?

Why does a career in PR interest me?

Four years ago, once I finished school, I took a year out away from studies as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and what career path I wanted to follow. Heading off away from my work and responsibilities, I lived in Australia for a year and during that time I visited family friends, from back home that moved out a long time ago whenever I possibly could. Which therefore goes on to lead me into when and why I first thought about PR as a future career for myself.

Related image

I was first introduced to PR by a family friend in Australia, who I and everyone knew as the ‘globe-trotter’. He was constantly travelling with his job working for a PR firm but as he said, at his own leisure (if he didn’t want to he didn’t ever have to, although I understand that this may not sit well with all jobs and PR companies). The excitement of having a fluid job seemed to pique my interest, so being intrigued I started to ask more questions about what exactly he did for a living and with that, he couldn’t answer me with a set-in stone answer as his job was always continually ‘evolving’. He stated the fact that I was a good outgoing person with great communication skills, this would sit very well with people wanting to go into the PR industry for a career. I was never particularly interested in a job that was completely enclosed in a somewhat ‘box’ which would have a repeated, recurrent routine also suited my personality. Having all these thoughts in mind, one particular word that he told me stood out from the rest: ‘Stunts’. Horton (2008) says that, ‘Public relations stunts are an effective form of message delivery when integrated with concepts being communicated’. I began to think of PR stunts and how interesting they were as a form of creative communication and began to think ‘I could think of some great innovative PR stunts myself’. Having this new-found perspective on PR, this was my first overall impression of the industry itself as a whole.

‘Public relations is closely associated with whatever is newest, freshest and most fashionable – and often with what is most successful (and indeed is, disproportionately, a young person’s industry)’ (Morris & Goldsworthy, 2015). With this little seed that my family friend planted in my head, I then started to look at different PR stunts and how they went about being created, what ideas were good and innovative (even mad) by looking at the likes of Red-Bull, who creatively took ‘Red-Bull gives you wings’ maybe even too literally by having a man jump out of a spaceship and plummet to earth, these great stunts began my interest in looking up degrees surrounding PR and Communication.

Image result for red bull sky jump

Goldsworthy & Morris (2015) state that although PR work might be portrayed as artificial, it is rarely viewed as dull and it likes to be seen as ‘a creative industry’.  The creative side to PR is very appealing to me. The artistic approaches which can be applied to a career in PR would constantly leave me fascinated and with this always thinking and creating new ideas.  In popular culture especially, PR’s role can often be thinking up of ideas for certain events, parties and festivities (which might also lead to attending them). The communication side of this and constantly meeting new people for all various reasons, in my view this has no comparison to a certified office work routine, no matter how small the reality of it may be.

On the subject about a daily office routine, people in PR, like my said family friend, can work almost anywhere, even with a permanent post in a particular business, this doesn’t seclude the fact that in this industry you might and most likely will not be working a 9-5 job every week. Society pressures of having a specific routine do not sit well with me and a repetitive almost mechanical nature in a job wouldn’t suffice. A career in the PR industry could almost guarantee little to none boredom. How the economy of today’s world is working, this further reiterates my point of wanting a job in the PR sector.

Gordon (2011) mentions different types of PR sectors, that you can choose to branch out in, depending on what interests you. ‘PR seems to offer would-be practitioners the chance to decide what interests them, do the PR for it and get paid into the bargain’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This would interest me as I could reach out and dip into areas of PR that would suit my liking, such as fashion, music, nature and even sports. As the variety of PR is so vast and complex, this would give me multiple opportunities to experience different sides to PR and the large variety of work would leave me to choose areas that I also wouldn’t be particularly fond of therefore stay away from and areas that I would like to stick at and delve into more that would suit my particular needs and interests.

Image result for cool story bro

PR consultancies are having to distinguish themselves and seek out a competitive advantage as they are ‘selling an intangible service and ultimately the difference is about personalities, but this is notoriously hard to articulate convincingly’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This therefore means that PR practices need to keep up to date and in trend with social media and society outside of this. Keeping on top of new technologies and rapidly responding to new social trends interest me as I like to keep ‘on trend’ myself, whether it be with my peers on online, so as this is an integrated aspect of PR this would interest me and my tastes of the work surrounding this.

Image result for cool granny

Like any career, you cannot go into a job knowing everything. ‘There are few if any scientific laws in PR’ (Smith, 2013). Learning from experience is always key, but this is even more validated within the PR industry. Creative working and thinking is wisdom and collective learning is very interesting and a career in this industry is so unsolidified and not set in stone that embracing your imaginative side interests me.

PR’s role can be tough, ‘pitching stories to sceptical journalists or bloggers, or taking that difficult call when the media have uncovered a damaging story’ (Theaker, 2012). Preparation must be done in advance for these types of situations, which can be make or break for some businesses depending on how big stories or certain situations are. Some people may find the responsibility of this too much, or not wanting the stress that may come along with some ambiguous, unplanned situations, although organisations value these type of PR people, that can stay cool, calm and collected in these types of situations. As I have a very calm nature, I like to work under pressure without it being to over bearing for me and I would like to be given the opportunities to experience these types of pressures. Overcoming these aspects of the job, particularly with myself, a strong sense of job satisfaction would come out of these types of situations for me if they are dealt with properly and respectfully. As being helpful in these situations this could make you a valued representative in an organisation which certain businesses would want and would definitely have perks.

Image result for influencer meme

When naming some large international PR consultancies, I couldn’t think of any at all. ‘Most people have difficulty identifying PR campaigns, and, when they try, frequently confuse them with advertising and other forms of marketing’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2008). This interests me are PR as a whole is quite unknown. With certain names, fact and PR concepts, PR is kept at a rather large scale as a blank canvas. The mysteriousness of PR and that surrounding it keeps an interest towards it and I find that extremely interesting.

Public relations is and continues to be a heavily influenced aspect of my personality and I implement some aspects of it into my everyday life, influencing brands I buy such as what I wear, what I eat, and I watch on television.

The fluidity and creativeness aspects of the career, such as stunts really peak my interest in the PR industry as a whole. Interestingly in today’s society PR’s work is still relatively unknown to people outside of the industry and people actually working in a PR career, this ‘secretive’ aspect for me creates a magnetic pull ever more so towards a career in PR as the unknown is exciting and somewhat stimulating.

Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/

Does he do much? Fuzzy Duck.

Does he do much? Fuzzy Duck.

What’s huge, yellow and generally regarded to be a massive waste of money? No, I’m not talking about the fact that Fox is still churning out new episodes of the Simpsons, I’m talking about Canaduck. Well, Canaduck isn’t the official name but it’s easier to write about than the unimaginative “Rubber Duck (Sculpture)” drummed up by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, from which Canaduck derives from. But that’s beside the point. Is Canaduck really all it’s quacked up to be? (Sorry- there are a few more of these to come).
ED6

Bobbing along at six stories tall and weighing over 13000kg, Canaduck cost the Canadian taxpayers a total of 200,000 Canadian dollars. Talk about a massive bill! (again, sorry but I can’t promise that I won’t do it again). It’s safe to say that Canaduck fairly ruffled a few feathers since its announcement in June 2017, but what did it actually do? Well, the truth is, we’re still not sure. Visitors were able to walk around inside the giant bird via a backdoor entrance that somewhat emulated the stuffing of a turkey. This peculiar design seemed to be overlooked by the media as the world seemed more perplexed by the obscurity of the bigger picture than the daft little details. But what did the duck mean? Who thought it was a good idea? And why was the world so captivated?

ED7

The minds behind the cutest 13-tonne structure in the world are the organisers of the Redpath Waterfront festival. The festival usually takes place in the penultimate weekend of June is free to all who wish to attend. The annual event’s website states that the festival intends to provide “on-land and on-water programming for people of all ages and interests with the goal of promoting Toronto locally and internationally as a premier waterfront destination”. Ok, so Toronto is a premier waterfront. Ducks like water. Now the duck existentially makes sense… right?

Wrong. A water city or not, Conservative MPP Rick Nicholls seemed personally offended by the bird, statingAs the PC Critic for Tourism, Culture, and Sport, I am not against people enjoying Canada Day festivals and festivities, but what I object to is the government funding a giant rubber duck that has no connection to Ontario or Canada”. Being publicly ridiculed by such a credible source, the geniuses who drummed up this idea must have felt like sitting ducks themselves. On the water, the duck looks calm and collected, but glance below the surface and his feet are churning a mile a minute. Nicholls clearly didn’t appreciate what this meme-worthy inflatable bird was doing to the reputation of his city on a global basis. Maybe Canada just hates the idea of being laughed at, eh?

ED9

As this inflatable structure made worldwide news, I remember laughing profusely. Only now as I sat to review the giant cutie, did I really ask myself what the duck could have stood for. A hefty sum of taxpayer’s money was thrust into this duck- could it be a satirical swipe at the Canadian government’s misuse of taxpayers hard earned money? Or was it literally just a two-hundred-thousand-dollar floating selfie partner? What did the driving forces behind Canaduck have to say about all this? Well, they claimed that the duck would boost tourism “with particular Instagram and selfie appeal”. So, there we have it. My brainpower in hoping to unearth some deeper symbolism of the duck appears to have been misplaced. It’s officially just a big duck.

ED5

There is something beautifully Canadian about Canaduck; innocent, apologetic for its own nature and, quite frankly, too nice for the United States. The instantaneous and volatile nature of the meme world allowed this gigantic bath toy to reach parts of the world that the team at Redpath Waterfront Festival had surely never dreamed of. But meme trends are as short as they are sweet. What the media didn’t tell us is that Redpath Waterfront Festival generated a record economic impact of 7.6 million dollars as well as an unbridled level of publicity for the festival. The previously labelled “cluster duck” made such a splash that the water taxi industry even saw an unexpected resurgence.

In the end, this boils down to the age-old debate of whether or not any publicity is good publicity. This was a remarkable PR stunt to follow in that it evolved from a laughing stock to a resounding success for revenue and brand awareness. Was this the plan all along? Or were there jobs on the line in the build-up to the festival? Did the brains behind the world’s largest duck foresee such a rollercoaster of publicity chockfull of political and economic commentary? Or was it just a big duck because they thought it might look cute? Returning to the previously mentioned intended goal of the festival (promoting Toronto locally and internationally as a premier waterfront destination) Canaduck, despite all its critics and cheap jokes, can surely be considered an emphatic triumph. Say what you will about our feathered friend, but one thing is for sure; it all went swimmingly in the end.

This would have been the part where I asked you all to click the link below to sign my petition to bring Canaduck to Newry to help revive the place as a premier waterfront “city” but the petition has been thrown out. UKgov.com claimed I was “probably joking”.

ED10

 

Needless to say, it was not a day for the ducks.

 

Eamon Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Twitter – @EamonDaly5 ; LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/eamon-daly-608780137

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:

KFC2

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/

3 of the most iconic PR stunts of all time

A few people realise that PR practitioners are the invisible puppet masters pulling the strings behind every element of media you see today.

Of course, you’ll not be able to recount the 1,000s of campaigns you’re exposed to each week, but there are campaigns that tend to leave a lasting impression on your memory, without even realising that they are the result of a carefully crafted engineered process by the PR practitioner.

In recent years the internet has transformed how we interpret and receive messages, this has in turn meant that PR stunts have become quite transparent. Seemingly the truly iconic PR stunts of all time took place 50+ years ago!

Let’s talk about this iconic image:

Marilyn Monroe "Seven Year Itch", 1955
Marilyn Monroe “Seven Year Itch”, 1955

To some it would seem Ms. Monroe was the victim of a poorly timed subway train causing her skirt to billow, giving photographers ammunition to capture the most iconic image ever.

At the time, Marilyn was attending a photo call to promote her movie ‘The Seven Year Itch’. Just as photographers began to assemble, a wind machine hidden under the steel grate was activated, the result of a carefully orchestrated stunt by the movie publicists who were responsible for not only an iconic image for the movie but it’s the image which people remember when they think of the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

Of course stunts don’t have to simply increase a celebrity profile, they are often done for the greater good.

During the 1920’s the intensity for equality for women after the war heightened, after all the notions of traditional gender roles was contradicted when women proved they could do the same work as men, and do it better.

AS2

The symbol of women’s liberation came from an unlikely source, cigarettes. At the time the social stigma attached to women smoking was rife. By no means was George Washington Hill concerned with the liberty of women’s rights, however he was hungry for success. He drafted in PR’s founding father, Edward Bernay, to help with his endeavour.

On March 31st, 1929, during the Easter parade, led by Bertha Hunt (Bernay’s secretary), who lit up a lucky strike cigarette on fifth avenue, other women soon followed. Combined with the papers reporting enthusiastically of the event, branding cigarettes as ‘torches of freedom,’ seen Bernay’s replaced the social stigma surrounding cigarettes and repositioned them to a symbol of freedom.

Moving on to more modern times, the Queensland Tourism campaign was dubbed one of the most successful tourism campaigns ever.  In 2009, the tourism board began their search for applicants to fill the ‘Best Job in the World’ role. The primary objectives for the campaign was to generate global awareness of the Great Barrier ReeAS3f in Queensland and to increase visitation to the Great Barrier Reef. With the intention to appeal to youthful travelers who wanted to seek a global travel experience.

Approximately there were 35,000 applicants spanning over 200 different countries who applied for the job with nearly AU$ 430 million public relations value generated.

An editor from the UK’s Sunday Times stated, “Not since Willy Wonka and the golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars, has something came along like this.”

The outcomes of the job advert seen global news coverage, listed 8th place on the world’s top 50 PR stunts of all time, a huge rise in visitors to Queensland and won huge awards. The successful applicant, Ben Southall from the UK was appointed caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef in 2009. During the role he was interviewed more than 450 times, visited 100 Queensland destinations and blogged throughout the entire trip, check it out by clicking the link below.

http://bensouthall.com/blog/

PR stunts are fantastic ways to get essentially ‘free’ media coverage for a brand. If a stunt is done well, the coverage is usually instant as these days people are always photographing and videoing, however, this is only on the basis that the stunt is interesting enough people feel it’s worth sharing. Carefully crafting a PR stunt and generating publicity for something which grabs the public’s attention is difficult, but the long lasting effect it has on a brand could be the key to the business’s life span and success.

Annie Shivers is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She is on Twitter at @ShiversAnnie and LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/annie-shivers-9085b810a