If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that i’m a big fan of PR mishaps and mess-ups. Occasionally however, I do like to applaud the campaigns that I think have been delivered really well.
Because, in a world of publicity blunders and brand slip ups, isn’t it nice to talk about companies that are really nailing their marketing for once? The press rarely gives businesses a day off when mistakes are made, but I never see them talking about the great campaigns that are pulled off for much more than a day.
Brands – you deserve some credit where credit’s due. So here’s my round up of some brilliant PR campaigns that i’m truly digging so far this year.
The best PR campaigns this year (so far)
‘Greggs goes gourmet for Valentines Day’
Seriously how cute was this idea?!
How can a campaign be both funny and endearing at the same time? Greggs managed it earlier this year with their ‘going gourmet for Valentines Day’ stunt. The inviting idea of a steak bake and a sausage roll over a candlelit dinner flawlessly gained masses of national coverage and many tried their hand at fine dining with Greggs on the evening of the 14th.
I’m all for a creative campaign and Greggs have truly mastered having fun with their brand image with this one. They’ve expertly proved just how successful inverse marketing can be (and how important it is to take a nonchalant approach every now and again).
My verdict: It’s nice to see brands being blithe and even a little bit silly. It makes them relatable, engage-able and inviting – plus, the campaign itself proved to be a success so that speaks for itself really. I’d love to see more brands taking this kind of innovative approach to their marketing strategy.
Not every PR stunt has to be quirky nor funny to be successful.
CALM are fantastic for representing both sides of the coin with their captivating campaigns. From the ‘don’t bottle up‘ plea last year, to their #Project84 this year – their actions have always been both alluring and bold.
#Project84 has been executed by CALM to highlight the increasing problem of male suicide.
The statistics are shocking. Every two hours a man in the UK takes his own life. Male suicide and mental health is a big issue that can’t be ignored any longer. It’s unacceptable that so many men are dying from suicide on a daily basis, yet so few people are talking about it.
To stop people in their tracks, make them pay attention and inspire much needed conversation and action around suicide, we partnered with the internationally renowned artist, Mark Jenkins, and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez, to create 84 individual sculptures. Friends and family members of the deceased helped in the creation process of the figures. Each one, a poignant reminder of a real life lost and a call to society to come together and ultimately take a stand against male suicide.
This campaign was deservingly covered across numerous press platforms, including a feature on ‘This Morning’. It goes to show that sometimes, the best campaigns aren’t the most charming or amusing – they’re simply the most effectual.
My verdict: As hallowing as this campaign was, it was still faultlessly enacted. From the initial idea right through to the end product – this project is truly commendable and has unquestionably met its goal of raising awareness.
‘Highlight the remarkable’ by Stablio
The clever print campaign from highlighter brand Stabilo empahsises the role of important women who have been overlooked throughout history.
I came across this project on Twitter and thought it was the perfect blend of simplicity and creativity – the exact kind of core ingredients you need to cook up a successful and impressive campaign.
The ad takes a black and white image from history and then uses a highlighter to pick out an important figure who, at the time, would have certainly been omitted from any recognition. One of the most powerful and memorable images for me was of Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician responsible for calculating Apollo 11’s safe return to earth. She’s barely noticeable to the eye in a room full of men – yet the trust Stablio highlighter has picked her out all these years later.
The simple product placement and the empowering idea both make for a great ad campaign that has duly earned its place in my ‘campaigns of the year so far’ round up.
My verdict: a creative campaign that shows compassion, awareness and gratitude – all combined with flawless product promotion? This one’s top notch from Stabilo and is certainly an impressive example for similar brands.
‘Sleep on the Great Wall of China with AirBnB’
Did anybody else catch this one a few months ago?
AirBnb – who, you’ve got to give it to them, have done remarkably well in terms of market share considering they’ve only been around for a decade – broadcasted this campaign a few weeks ago. And, I actually really liked this idea when it first surfaced.
Through providing just 500 words, you’d be in with a chance of winning an experience to sleep in the actual Great Wall of China (and yes you heard that correctly).
The company promised to create a room under the stars which would be situated right in the middle of the historic and world-famous landmark. But, it was soon met with criticism, with many indicating flaws in the project (like “umm, what if it rains?”) and many others slamming AirBnb for exploiting the landmark for PR purposes.
It even surfaced that the cultural commission in Beijing’s Yanqing district, which oversees the stretch of the wall where the sleepover was planned, said it was not aware of the event and no approval had been given. Of course, in the end, AirBnb had to pull the whole campaign and competition because of all of this. Nice thought though.
My verdict: I loved the idea, I thought it was unique, visionary and a little bit special. However, the vital risk assessments weren’t there (nor the actual permissions apparently). Though this campaign was a sound idea, it should have stayed as that and should never have made it to the execution stage. What started out as some great PR, turned very sour very quickly.
‘Jane Walker’ whisky
Similarly to Stabilo, Johnnie Walker whisky also dropped a statement campaign this year. (Which, by the way, i’m all here for).
To promote gender equality and honour the many achievements of women throughout history, Johnnie Walker launched a female version of its classic whisky on International Women’s Day this year. Shrewdly named the Jane Walker.
In March this year, Johnnie Walker released around 250,000 bottles of the ‘Jane Walker’, and for every bottle sold they donated $1 to organisations that empower women.
My verdict: Similar to Pink IPA but with much better implementation and another great inverse marketing example, Johnnie Walker helped their brand gain even more support and publicity through this quirky idea. Though we’ve seen campaigns like this before, any support for gender equality always gets a big thumbs up from me!
Arby’s goes big on the advertising (and small)
I was reading an article the other day and this really caught my eye. Arby’s – the American fast food restaurant made the (melodramatic to me(?)) announcement that ‘they were now selling Coca Cola’ in a truly obscure fashion.
Going above and beyond with their marketing strategy to break this (supposedly) radical news, the company broke not 1 but 2 records by creating the worlds largest and smallest ad. The largest on 212,000 square feet of Nebraskan farmland and the smallest carved onto a simple sesame seed from an Arby’s bun.
Not only did this stunt showcase their latest product offering, but it also did great for their brand image and recognition. I think we can all learn something about creative marketing from Arby’s – no idea is too big nor too small, so don’t be afraid to throw it out there.
Loyal fans of the chain apparently aired their disdain on social media following the company’s initial announcement to switch from Pepsi products to Coke in 2017. In response, Arby’s served up grandiose attempts to win over remaining naysayers. The company’s CMO, Jim Taylor said their record breaking ads were about “communicating this simple message in a unique and buzzworthy way.”
Whether you agree with their product switch or not, one thing’s for sure: they certainly know how to make an impact.
My verdict: This campaign is truly a 2 for 1 steal. Arby’s successfully promoted their new product offering, while also delivering some great PR for the brand too. I love the boldness and the brass of this idea. America, never change.
‘The breathing bus stop’
Starting to sound like an actual American, this stunt is another from overseas. However, when I first heard about it I truly loved the idea and therefore it’s definitely earned a place in my ‘PR campaigns of the year so far’ round up.
To promote one of their latest shows: Altered Carbon. Netflix incubated a human-style mannequin into a Hollywood bus stop. It’s kinda freaky – but I actually really like it.
According to The Drum, the experiential stunt in Santa Monica is open to the public who can poke and prod at the exhibition while waiting on their bus. Commuters will notice that the lifelike mannequin is also gently breathing.
My verdict: Certain to attract attention – this macabre, yet weirdly alluring stunt is exactly the kind of creative campaign that will flawlessly achieves it’s goals. It gets people talking. And that’s what PR is all about.
How is 2018 fairing against 2017 so far? Can you think of any more PR campaigns that have truly stood out this year? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
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