By Richard Thiardt
Much like Marmite (alternative yeast extract spreads are available), stunts divide opinion amongst the PR industry.
On the one hand, you have agencies that have built serious reputations on floating objects down the Thames, animals on the tube and the classic flash mob. But on the flipside, many have sneered at this approach, considering it a dumbed-down idea often suggested at the end of a struggling brainstorm. A remnant of a bygone era in PR.
In recent years, with the obvious and well-documented growth of social media, we are continually seeing success in using stunts to increase awareness and drive talkability for our clients. Just last month, Wolf Blass wines celebrated its sponsorship of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup by hiring Wolf the Eagle to assist in pre-match preparations at Lord’s cricket ground, scaring away pigeons and seagulls that damage the turf and disrupt play. The result – five nationals, strong conversation on social media and regional coverage to boot.
Although very different, one of my favourite stunts in recent years was Project 84: CALM. Based on the shocking research that every two hours a man in the UK takes his own life (in total 84 men every week), charity CALM created 84 life-like statues of men that had committed suicide, placing them on the roof of ITV Studios. The stunt was striking, overwhelming and launched at a time when awareness of male depression and mental health issues featured heavily on the news agenda. According to its creators, the work aimed to initiate the much-needed conversation and action around male suicide prevention and bereavement support. The campaign did just that and prompted the Government to appoint the ﬁrst UK Minister for Suicide Prevention.
Much like most PR activity, stunts work when they are founded in insight and help bring to life an issue or challenge. Consumers are savvy, so stunting for stunts’ sake will be received like water off a duck’s back. From the two examples mentioned earlier, both identified an issue (one far more serious than the other), which was brought to life in an eye-catching way to generate discussion and consideration from media and consumers.
In PR, we can be guilty of attempting to be too clever, so the classic PR stunt remains a brilliant way to take your brand from a specific section of the media into the mainstream pages of the national press. It’s a tactic we’ll certainly be looking to use for the foreseeable future here at Stir.
Comments first appeared on PR Moment: The secrets of a PR stunt