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Posts Tagged ‘PR stunts’

PR Win: Chicago Restaurant ‘Dresses Up’ As Competitor Alinea for Halloween

This Halloween stunt will be especially fun for food people. Chicago’s Alinea consistently ranks as one of the top three restaurants in the country. As you can see from this clip and this clip, they’re famous for making extremely weird stuff and presenting it in even weirder ways.

It’s a bit misleading to call fellow Windy City eatery Real Kitchen a “competitor” because they serve takeout dinners, but they do have a sense of humor about being in the same town as food snob royalty, and they displayed it with panache on Halloween. They even made a promo video poking fun at the very idea of a “high-concept kitchen”, and it is a hilarious five minutes:

Some quips we love:

“The chicken was powderized and then reconstructed with fresh-squeezed chicken juice…”

“The potatoes are then arranged as if they were scattered on a forest floor…”

“A walnut highlights the earthy smell of Fall decay…”

Beat that, Bourdain. This one gets our vote for best Halloween stunt.

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Coca-Cola Just Made a Park Somewhere in Europe

Coca-Cola‘s “part of a healthy lifestyle” spin isn’t gaining much traction. But it’s hard to argue against feel-good stunts like this one, in which the kings of sugar water set up a makeshift park to shine some light on an anonymously dreary Eastern European city. The little sponsored party promotes happiness through reckless activities like shoeless frisbee, no-rules soccer and the rampant blowing of bubbles. Also: t-shirts grow on trees, but attendees must bring their own picnic baskets.

It’s like Occupy Wall Street with better funding and an even less focused message.

Will Coke be setting up a patch of grass complete with solitary sapling in your hometown? Don’t count on it: securing the permits would be a nightmare.

Greenpeace Pulls A So-So PR Stunt at Shell’s Formula One Event

We appreciate Greenpeace‘s goals. We really do. Our species can only rely on fossil fuels for so long, and our tendency to ignore problems until long after the tipping point arrives does not bode well for the future of the planet on which we live. We have no doubt that drilling for oil in arctic regions will lead to irreversible damage to those already perilously fragile ecosystems.

That said, stunts like this one, in which the group snuck into the Formula One racing event sponsored by Shell Oil and installed two automatic banners to promote its SavetheArctic website, won’t do much to convince anyone who doesn’t already support Greenpeace that their goals and methods are the best way to resolve a serious existential problem. How many people at this event pulled their smartphones out to visit savethearctic.org?

Such stunts might work to encourage fundraising, but we don’t know that this is the most productive use of donors’ dollars.

PR Stunts: Dove ‘Restores’ Photoshopped Models

It’s been nearly ten years since Dove introduced “Real Beauty“, one of the 2000′s best rebranding campaigns. Its focus on “real-looking” models helped distinguish Dove in the crowded beauty category–and the company’s Canadian division just used a crafty PR stunt to try and extend that winning streak.

First Dove posted a download on Reddit that supposedly offered users a free tool to help retouch photographs by “enhanc[ing] skin tone” and “hiding all the imperfections”–in other words, all the things that Dove’s campaign opposed. But when users pressed the button, this “tool” reversed all the modifications to the image in question. (They could then “undo” the reversal, but the point had been made.)

This “hack” was a sneaky attempt to once again push the claim that Dove keeps things real in an industry dominated by digital tummy tucks, facelifts and tone-ups. In the video below, the company directly calls out “art directors, graphic designers and photo retouchers” for using Photoshop and other tools to promote unrealistic ideals  (never mind the fact that Dove has been accused of doing the very same thing).

Oh, and this is all part of a larger campaign which includes the hashtag #DovePositiveChange and a Facebook “Ad makeover” app which purportedly lets users revise ad spots designed to play on insecurities by promising to help women improve their appearance.

So is this another branding win for Dove, or do they need to stop pushing the same old concept?

PR Fail: ‘Baby-Naming Site’ Just Made the Whole Damn Thing Up

Today in Did They Really Think This Would Work news, the “baby-naming website” Belly Ballot just admitted that its “let the Internet name your baby and win free money” promotional stunt, which managed to get a lot of media attention last week, wasn’t even remotely true.

Thanks to a tipster with a guilty conscience and some investigative journalism on behalf of The Today Show‘s Moms blog, we now know that the woman named as the winner of the $5,000 contest is a professional actress–and she’s not even pregnant.

A “struggling single mom” named Natasha Hill supposedly won after submitting an essay about why she should be the one to let the wi-fi equipped public name her baby and claim the $5,000 prize. If the name turned out to be something lame like Aiden or Facebook? “There’s always a nickname.

But there was no contest. There were no contestants. There was no baby.

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Was the Maker’s Mark ‘Watered Down Whiskey’ Plan a PR Stunt?

Maker's Mark Last week we came across a disheartening story: In an effort to meet increasing international demand, top whiskey brand Maker’s Mark announced plans to make do with less by literally watering down its products and reducing the alcohol content of each bottle from 45% to 42%.

Full confession: we have very strong opinions about bourbon! We find Maker’s to be a slightly overrated and overpriced distillery distinguished mostly by its unique packaging, but we still thought this was a very dumb idea for a brand whose appeal is all about the quality and, therefore, purity of its products. The folks behind Maker’s seemed to get the point of the predictable public backlash, announcing this week that they wouldn’t go through with the brilliant plan after all and releasing the following statement:

“You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand — and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.”

We initially attributed this strange tale to an epic misreading of public opinion. But were we too quick to judge? Yesterday the “social infotainment” site Digital Dash made a bold suggestion: maybe this was all a clever PR stunt! What better way to get your brand noticed than to announce an unpopular change and then backtrack on the whole thing? And why announce the move in the first place? Most drinkers, ourselves included, would not have noticed the shift from 45% to 42%.

We know the “marketing scheme” theory is a bit of a stretch, but it’s also the only way this story makes any sense.

Chinese Billionaire’s ‘Fresh Canned Air’ Stunt Doing Quite Well, Thanks

Chinese billionaire/philanthropist Chen Guangbiao‘s uniquely capitalist campaign to “protesting” air pollution has attracted a good bit of Western media attention over the past few weeks. Here’s the crazy thing: it’s working!

Chen first began selling his “canned fresh air” product last September in an effort to “heighten public awareness on environmental protection and the importance of clean air”– and this week we learned that it’s selling quite well despite the fact that the whole endeavor looks like nothing more than a big PR stunt.

The air–which was “collected” from low-pollution areas to be sold for less than a dollar a can in flavors like “Pristine Tibet”–has flown off urban Chinese supermarket shelves in recent weeks as a particularly brutal wave of smog washes over Beijing and the surrounding areas.

Was Chen really trying to convince the government to take action in combating pollution? Was he just looking to make money? Or does the “fresh air” project serve as a nice illustration of the inherent conflicts between a pseudo-capitalist economy and an authoritarian state?

Well, Chen claims to donate all the project’s profits to charity and he’s recently taken to handing out free cans in the street, so we’d call this a particularly creative and well-funded approach to issue-based advocacy campaigns.

Last but not least: You didn’t really think we’d forget this little nugget, did you?

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PR Stunts: Disney Turns London Street into ’8-Bit Lane’

Disney's Wreck-It-Ralph #8bitlaneToday in This Is Actually Kind of Cool News: Disney‘s latest film, Wreck-It-Ralph, takes place in a time when video game graphics weren’t quite so hyper-realistic. Those with a fondness for the pixelated, two-dimensional days of “Super Mario Brothers” and “The Legend of Zelda” will love the company’s latest PR stunt:

In order to promote the film, Disney enlisted artist Aden Hynes and creatives at London’s Truman Brewery to turn the town’s “infamous” Brick Lane into “8-Bit Lane” by filling the block with old-school Nintendo-style reproductions of everyday objects like clouds, pigeons and taxi cabs.

The company then promoted its efforts with a hashtag push and a free public tour of the block. Video after the jump.

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T-Shirt Maker Sells Last Name to Highest Bidder

In a new twist on the shameless self-promotion phenomenon, Florida entrepreneur Jason Sadler (who appropriately makes a living printing quirky t-shirts) recently pulled a ridiculous stunt by offering to sell his surname to the highest bidder for use as a branding tool.

He did this in order to raise capital so he could continue providing drunk college students everywhere with “Unicorns Rock!” shirts that they’ll wear twice, pack into a drawer and then tear up to use as shoeshine cloths when they grow up and get real jobs.

Well the contest just ended; the winning bid was $45,500, and the wily promoter’s new name will be…Jason Headsets.com (a change he will definitely regret in the morning). The runner-up appears to be JLabAudio, which tells us that headphone makers are desperate for media exposure. We can’t all be Beats by Dre and charge $300 for a set of freaking headphones, can we?

This new URL surname isn’t really what we had in mind; we were thinking of something classy like “Jason Cadillac” or “Jason Burger King”. We also wonder how much the move will ultimately benefit either party–though we will say that we had never heard of headsets.com or IWearYourTShirt.com before today, so we guess it’s all good?

We can’t quite endorse this strategy, but it is a wiser approach to homemade PR than, say, accepting a $15,000 offer to tattoo a political campaign logo on your face (especially when your candidate loses).

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Walmart Employees Plan ‘A Thousand’ Holiday Protests

Walmart Storefront

Walmart‘s holiday season PR troubles now look to extend beyond a consumer backlash against the big-box retailers who’ve decided to begin their Black Friday sales at 8 PM on Thanksgiving day.

Last week saw more than one case of employees walking off the job in groups, and now an advocacy group called Making Change at Walmart–which operates with the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union– claims that this week will bring a series of protests by Walmart employees around the country. Organizers announced their plans to journalists on a conference call, predicting “a thousand store protests” from LA to DC.

Of course, the employees’ case doesn’t center on Walmart’s decision to open on Thursday evening–though some do claim that management told them about the updated Thanksgiving schedule “on short notice” and gave them no choice as to whether they wanted to work that day or not. Their primary concerns include low wages, increasing health care premiums and “alleged retaliation from management” in order to punish employees for lodging complaints and attempting to organize.

A Walmart spokesman called the planned protests “another exaggerated publicity campaign” and claimed that the employees are just looking to generate headlines, so it doesn’t look like company executives have any interest in negotiation.

We have little doubt that Walmart will succeed in its ongoing attempts to prevent employees from unionizing. But how can the company counter such a large and well-organized movement? If these protests go down as promised, we have a feeling the Walmart team will end up making a whole lot of sterile and ultimately ineffective public statements that will do nothing to satisfy the protesters.

Will these events eventually do significant damage to the business?

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