Sometimes, publicity stunts are necessary tools that can be used to increase the outreach of your brand. The reasoning and logic behind them are… the more attention your company or organization receives, the more supporters you will gain. It’s not necessarily poor logic either.
Over the years, there have been a number of publicity stunts that have helped companies increase awareness of a cause, bolster their brand’s circulation, overshadow competitors and reinforce brand recognition.
Of course, sometimes those stunts fail miserably.
People like to say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I beg to differ. There most certainly is such a thing, and bad press is bad press. That means you need to be careful with your attention grabs, and make sure you are wielding them wisely. In other words, be smart about your stupid stunts, m’kay?
That said, let’s take a gander at five high profile publicity stunts that have pushed the boundaries and made a memorable impact. Maybe we can learn something, eh?
Red Bull’s Stratos
Red Bull sponsored a space diving project with the Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner. In 2012, a helium balloon took Baumgartner into the stratosphere, where he proceeded to free fall back to Earth in a high pressure suit. (Hmm… I’m not sure how smart this plan was, on second thought.)
The 127,851 foot jump lasted ten minutes and Baumgartner became the first human to break the sound barrier.
The jump was viewed by over 9.5 million viewers — the most concurrent viewers for a YouTube live stream. This stunt helped promote Red Bull’s extreme, adventurous branding and bolstered the visibility of their company.
As you can see… perhaps not the wisest stunt in terms of his safety, but it certainly scored points with the adrenaline junkies of the world, creating rabid brand ambassadors.
In 1925, Goodyear launched its first blimp with the company logo largely displayed on the side of the apparatus. The blimp was the first commercial, non-rigid airship flown using helium.
In 1955, the Goodyear blimp evolved in its purpose and provided a live television picture of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
Today, Goodyear offers TV networks the use of their blimp’s camera for sporting and entertainment events, with the agreement of a broadcasted mention of their brand.
Their blimp has become an iconic element of the Goodyear brand that effectively markets the company. Slightly more tame than a human hurtling past the sound barrier, but effective nonetheless.
L’Auto Bicycle Race
L’Auto was a French newspaper in the early 1900s that was created after its disassembly from the newspaper Le Velo.
L’Auto hoped they could gain greater readership and increase interest in their new publication with a bicycle race that covered 1,500 miles.
This newspaper’s publicity stunt helped them increase their circulation sixfold and forced their largest competition, Le Velo, out of business.
The race was repeated the following year, and became known as the Tour de France. Of course, you want to make sure you’re in tiptop shape before embarking on such a race. Sheesh. That’s a lot of miles!
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a fundraising publicity stunt created for the promotion of awareness of ALS.
Originally the challenge was for the nominee to choose to donate towards the cause or dump a cold bucket of ice water over their head. (Brrrrrrrrrr.)
As the campaign became more publicized, nominees would both donate and perform the ice bucket challenge. Many celebrities participated in the challenge, including Bill Clinton, Matt Lauer, Oprah, Chris Pratt, Steven Spielberg and Mark Zuckerberg.
The challenge led to 2.4 million tagged videos and the fundraising of $115 million.
Asda, an American-owned and British founded retailer similar to Walmart, found a publicity opportunity after England’s 2004 defeat in the Euro Cup.
A Swiss referee, Urs Meier, disallowed England’s late final-quarter goal, which would have led the team to victory.
Asda, which houses an optician center, issued a press release that they would offer “Free Eye Tests for the Swiss”.
This humorous, good-natured publicity stunt gained international attention and boosted the chain’s brand. Sometimes, cracking a good-natured joke is all it takes.
Over to You
Pulled any good publicity stunts lately? Anything outrageous? How’d that work out for ya?