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Stunts

What Shall I Be When I Grow Up? Joey Skaggs!

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Today we bring you a guest post by Sal Cataldi, founder and president of New York’s surreal shop Cataldi PR.

What makes you want to be what you want to be when you grow up?

Like many a person with eclectic interests (writing, music, art, travel and, yes, cash) and the fuzzy liberal arts degree to prove it, I ventured off into the world of periadulthood with nary a clue as to what I would do to house and feed myself, much less the wonderful children I would be fortunate enough to have.

My professional calling didn’t arrive until my late mid-20s, after a few years spent bumming around the animation and video businesses, playing in rock bands and writing record reviews for freebie vinyl.  That’s when I stumbled into the broad world that goes by the narrow moniker of “public relations.” This shift came courtesy of a recommendation put forth for my varied interests by that bible for career changers and flounders, What Color Is Your Parachute?

So what kind of hype have I plied in my three decades in this business, with 26 of those years as head of my own boutique gang of guerillas?  It has been way more of the P.T. Barnum and John Waters spectacle variety than the barely-veiled liemanship of President George W. Bush’s smarmy spinmeister Ari Fleischer or his clueless acting successor, Dana Perino.

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A Few Reasons Why the Ice Bucket Challenge Has Been So Popular with CEOs

jeff bezos ice bucketEvery time you turn on the internet, someone’s dumping a bucket of cold H2O over their heads. It’s the the ALS ice bucket challenge and it’s for a good cause so go right ahead. A million times yes. As of Sunday, the challenge has raised $70.2 million.

Lots of ordinary folk are doing it. Of course, celebrities are getting in on the action. But surprisingly, a ton of CEOs are also doing it. From Mark Zuckerberg to Jeff Bezos, top executives from some big companies are getting in on the viral philanthropy action. This isn’t normal. So what gives?

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Taylor Swift Writes Her Name in the Clouds for ‘Skyline’

Don’t know about you guys, but we feel like this has been a tough week. Not only is the summer coming to an end, but the bad news just won’t stop.

On that note, here’s a reminder that the business of promoting stuff can sometimes be more than a little ridiculous.

Taylor Swift has a new album out. It’s called “Skyline”, and the folks behind her (who are now 13 Management but used to be Erickson Public Relations) dreamed up the idea of promoting it today by…writing in the sky.

The best part? The stunt was about raising awareness of both the album itself and the singer’s upcoming Yahoo live stream next week. Yes, you read that right.

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7-Eleven Launches Pop-Up Gay Wedding Chapel

Earlier today our own Shawn Paul Wood asked a serious question: is Target’s statement in support of same-sex marriage really a heartfelt advocacy move or just another publicity stunt?

Now we can offer you a counter-example via the oddest source: 7-Eleven. In Stockholm. To celebrate last week’s Pride Parade, the convenience chain (which amusingly compared itself to Uber in a recent strategy document) created a pop-up wedding chapel with the help of Swedish PR/marketing agency Wenderfalck.

Here’s the homepage, which certainly seems like a legitimate attempt to bring the tagline “Oppet for alla” (open for all) to life. The events even included “one of few openly homosexual Imams, who presided over the marriage of a lesbian Islamic couple.”

This kind of stunt isn’t technically new for 7-Eleven, which got a bit of press attention way back in 1992 for doubling as a chapel for a couple of lucky Detroit lovebirds. Still, we’d like to see Target pull a move like this.

Greenpeace Won’t Let LEGO Forget That Shell Thing

One thing we can all agree on regarding Greenpeace: they’re consistent. Once they latch onto an issue, they go all in.

In order to protest the LEGO company’s ongoing partnership with Shell (which the latter’s PR values at $116M over two years), the group created not just an online petition but a professional-quality PSA that looks like an outtake from the super-depressing director’s cut of The LEGO Movie–and then they protested its subsequent removal from YouTube.

Today the org went even further, recruiting “activists” in life-size costumes to protest outside the LEGO store near Rockefeller Plaza. Then they sent us pictures!

(Note: this all happened after the group’s “Protest-O-Matic” empowered said protesters to create their own tailored signs.)

Block Shell Protest LEGO New York

They look angry, but The Naked Cowboy did try to lighten the mood a bit…

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Baby Products Company Gives Mom Bloggers Candy in Pill Bottles

Today we learned that a company specializing in baby products tried to promote its name at the recent BlogHer conference by hiding candy in the least acceptable place: pill bottles.

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The bottles weren’t real, of course, but they looked real enough to create something of a stir at the event.

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UK Firm Goes to Outer Space and Back to Announce Rebranding

Today we learned that a service apparently allows users to send objects into space and film them there for YouTube-ready clips. We also learned that the UK’s Houston PR (nee Twelve Thirty Eight) used the service to highlight the World’s Highest Press Release as it hovered 27 miles above the planet.

It’s a pretty cool way to announce a name change.

Unfortunately–as our own Shawn Paul Wood showed us yesterday–the myths about our ability to make such clips “go viral” are just that (especially when said clips do not involve Walter White bobbleheads or George Takei action figures carrying gay pride flags).

The stunt is certainly fun–but Houston, we may have a problem with the font size…

(H/T AdRants)

Discovery Channel ‘Shark Week’ Stunt Actually Scared the Crap out of Canadians

In a true “War of the Worlds” moment (look it up, kids), The Discovery Channel and its various agencies managed to scare quite a few shark-weary Canadians with the help of the local government before admitting yesterday that it was all a stunt.

Here’s the clip that went semi-viral, alleging that a bull shark had been spotted in Lake Ontario. Does this look like a paid ad?

It is. More specifically, it was created by OMD and TBWA to promote the upcoming special ”In Search of Canada’s Rogue Shark”–a special sponsored by Nissan.

Yet authorities took it so seriously that Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro told local press:

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…it is potentially, I guess, a very serious situation. If there is a shark in Lake Ontario we need to know about it.”

It’s almost like Discovery fed him the damn lines. In other words, it’s still very possible to get both local media and a skeptical public to believe–or at least click on–even the most unbelievable nonsense. Need more proof? One word: mermaids.

Thanks for setting the bar so very low, Discovery.

Seems Crazy, But Taylor Swift Was Actually a Good Choice for a WSJ Op-Ed

taylor swiftWhen I first saw a tweet expressing disbelief that Taylor Swift had written an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, I ignored it, thinking it was a mistake. But it turns out that yes, indeed, this story does exist.

As part of its 125th anniversary celebration, The WSJ included a column by singer/songwriter/everyone’s bestie during a break up, Taylor Swift. On its face, this is a stunt. The WSJ is considered stuffy and serious, usually not the place where you would see much about a country-pop music star, let alone a byline by one. But actually, it’s an inspired move that shines a light on the creative ways that you can present a brand to the world.

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Marc Jacobs Chooses ‘Real People’ from Instagram for His Latest Campaign

marc jacobs real peopleAnother brand is doing the whole “real models” thing, and this time it’s going high-end.

Marc Jacobs put out a call in April for fans and models to submit their names via Instagram to be considered for the upcoming campaign. According to The Daily Beast, 70,000 people responded and a new hashtag, #CastMeMarc, was born. After some deliberation, nine people were chosen to appear in the Fall/Winter 2014 campaign, which will make its debut in Teen Vogue.

Jacobs says he was looking to tap into “youth and energy” by going the social media route. The Beast has another take: “It was a well-played PR stunt; Jacobs accumulated plenty of free press for—let’s be honest—finding pretty people on the Internet.

“And the media ate it up, praising the campaign’s diversity and selection of ‘real people’ (apparently paid models aren’t actually human). It’s unclear whether these very real and authentic people are being paid as much (if at all) as previous faces of Marc by Marc campaigns—which includes unreal people like M.I.A. and Dakota Fanning—though we can assume that they are being compensated mostly in flattery and social cache,” the article continues.

So lots of different kinds of free publicity here. But we’re going to fall back on our previous question: How much more of this “real people” stuff will people go for?

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