We might only be halfway through 2019 and just got rid of the wet weather, but we’ve already seen some brilliant PR stunts. The use of celebrity appearances, pop-up shops and clever social media executions to help try tackle mental health are just some of the interesting examples I have noticed in the last six months. In this post, I take a closer look at my 11 favourite PR campaigns of the year and why I think they have been so effective. Enjoy.

11) Jaguar and Land Rover engineering gender bias campaign.

Jaguar Land Rover used to be a client of mine many years ago and they have released a new video showing a female engineer asking little children about engineers. Although the clip may have been a little predictable it is still nice and sweet to see how the children react – I am thinking little and Ant & Dec from a few years ago. The video also gives the audience some interesting statistics on how many women are currently in the engineering industry.

This comes in at number 11 on the list because it highlights an issue largely ignored due to our ignorance of it, so bringing it to the attention of mass audiences can only be a good thing.

10) Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin.

In at number 10 of my best PR stunts is Ryan Reynolds who always seems to be doing something clever to make people laugh and he did this one rather well with his new Advertising campaign for Aviation Gin. This latest clip was released on Father’s Day and is meant to be amusing (i think) and is typical Reynolds at his comic best pretending that he blows every single bottle and then engraves them making each of them a Ryan Reynolds bottle.

With thousands of positive tweets and comments on social, the advert has also racked up a whopping 1.7 million YouTube views – the power of the celebrity still works.

9) Ed Sheeran x Heinz ketchup.

This new cheeky advert by Heinz is to promote their world-famous ketchup and sees global superstar Ed Sheeran using the product in a ‘fancy’ restaurant. Ed has apparently been known to talk about his love for ketchup on many occasions, (no me neither) and he even has a tattoo of a bottle on his arm – what the? Now that is brand commitment- I might have to work on that for some of my clients.

Sheeran apparently even asked to do the advert himself on Twitter, stating “Yo Heinz I have an idea for a tv ad if you wanna do one, if not I won’t be offended, I could never be mad at you. Slide in my DMs or have your people call my people. Lots of love, your biggest fan x”.

This shows the songwriter’s genuine love for the product. Also by them using such a big musical superstar, with over 130 million records sold, it won’t hurt the brand’s sales. What a scoop to get him to do it in the first place – whether his initial involvement was staged or not I will leave to you. This campaign really highlights the comedic factor of Ed and the story behind the advert makes it entertaining which is why it came in at number 9 on my list.

8) Black Mirror Bandersnatch pop up shops.

In at number 8 of my best PR stunts, I have put Black Mirror’s guerrilla marketing which consisted of retro pop-up shops appearing in London and Birmingham promoting the new Bandersnatch show on Netflix. The show followed a game programmer in the 1980s. The film was all about audience interaction, with you (the audience) making choices about what the protagonist does. It was a great bit of original TV but god it locked you in if you chose the wrong ending – it took me 3hrs to watch the whole thing.

Loving the #Bandersnatch themed shop at Old Street station @blackmirror pic.twitter.com/9PKqtko4HB— daniel wilkie (@danwilkie777) January 3, 2019

The idea for the movie was clever in itself and the creative marketing made it even better. Even for people who hadn’t watched the film, the pop-up shops sold 1980’s memorabilia, which would of course appeal to the older generations like myself. These stores looked amazing. They were meant to appeal because we had grown up in that period and so they gave the show a wider appeal but most of all they got media coverage. I have placed this stunt at number 8 because it is an incredible use of guerrilla marketing and the public would not even of had to have been interested in the actual show to go into the store and take a look around.

7) Game of Thrones Iron thrones placement from around the world.

Game of Thrones was/is one of the most viewed TV shows in the world and seems to have some of the best guerrilla marketing to go with such a huge phenomenon. So it was a social media treasure hunt with the team placing six iron thrones in different locations around the world that caught the eye. Fans then set off to try and find them before they left as they were only around for a set period – we all need a bit of time drama. Because Game of Thrones has a very dedicated and active audience thousands of people went searching for them.

The stunt itself is a great example of guerrilla marketing and got fans, even more, hyped up for the final season. I will leave you to decide whether it was worth it. You really do have to praise the Game of Thrones team for their campaign here.

6) Ballet dancer in sea of plastic

This deserves to be included in my best PR stunts as it is all about Fernando Montano – a professional ballet dancer, dancing in a “sea of plastic” which is a subject close to my heart – my wife has started her own campaign against plastic in our house. Images were released on world oceans day campaigning to stop the oceans being polluted.

The part of the media company Ocean Outdoors’ mission is “to highlight the devastating effects plastic pollution is having on the world’s oceans.” There were other benefits such as how the charity will also benefit from proceeds raised during an exclusive show, starring Montaño and an auction at London’s Royal Academy of Music on July 18. The reason this is at number 6 is that it has a strong positive campaign message and there are no negative points to be made about it.

You can view the stunt fully right here.

5) Instagram’s Record-breaking Egg Is Actually a Mental Health Campaign

This stunt was all about the record-breaking egg that appeared on Instagram in January 2019, more than doubling the number of likes it aimed to beat with a massive 52+ million views. It was then revealed in an animated video on an Instagram page that the cracks appearing on the egg over time, were from mental health issues caused by the pressure of social media. Now you have to admit that is clever.

I have put this stunt in at number 5 because it gives a key message behind the egg post and how it managed to reach so many new people was just simply incredible. Chris Godfrey the creator of the egg said “An egg has no gender, race or religion. An egg is an egg, it’s universal.” Giving people a real insight into a topic that could easily be glanced over making the stunt even better.

4) BBC supporting the woman’s world cup

The BBC made an advert for the Women’s World Cup entitled “Remember the Name”. The song in the video was performed by Ms Banks, an artist from south London and was created to “inspire the next generation of women who might follow in these athletes footsteps”.

This is a clear representation of how times have altered and that attitudes towards sexism have actually changed over the last few decades’. Furthermore, it brings a positive message for younger generations, with the hope of motivating them to continue to fight for better gender equality in society.

 3) Nike’s plus size mannequin campaign.

Nike’s clever Plus Size campaign managed to showcase the positive side of the brand well. The campaign saw the brand launch a new plus-sized mannequin in it’s London flagship store. However, it did cause controversy with some people as they felt it was celebrating the wrong kind of body image and several people had to stand up for Nike. An argument from one person was:

“Other people have berated Nike for glamorising obesity, going so far as to say that the mannequin, were she real, would be diabetic and riddled with osteoarthritis. I’m not sure where their outrage was when research showed that most high-street mannequins are so thin they wouldn’t menstruate.”

By Nike doing this controversial stunt, it allows the brand to appeal to a far larger target audience. Here is the Independent and Telegraph coverage of it.

2) Grenfell survivors project messages on unsafe tower blocks demanding improvements.

At number 2 is a clever campaign done by Grenfell tower survivors who were projecting messages onto unsafe buildings, as a kind of guerrilla protesting. One the projections read “2 years after Grenfell this building still has no sprinklers #demandchange.”

This campaign is in my best PR stunts and it is pretty hard-hitting and has a strong message and is a great example of people coming together to enforce some kind of change. The fact there are still building that is this dangerous is very worrying and I hope they resolve that.

This campaign was seen all over the news, and extensively on social media giving it a mass of coverage and that is why it has made it in at my number 2.

Image result for Grenfell survivors project messages on unsafe tower blocks demanding improvements.

1) Holocaust story told through Instagram stories.

This stunt is an amazing adaptation of the story of a girl from the Holocaust. I have put this at number 1 because of how different it is to any other PR stunts. This wasn’t done to sell a product, it was done to educate and remind people on what really happened in those tragic times.

A lot of good has come out of this project such as Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot using her Instagram page to promote the project, urging her 29 million followers to give it a watch. With the Instagram account @eva.stories itself having 1.7 million followers and the trailer alone having over 4.7 million views this stunt was able to reach a huge amount of people.

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Eva.Stories Official Trailer

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The PR stunts listed above are pretty varied both in terms of the issues they tackle and how they go about getting their campaign messages across. While some are simply product promotion, others are taking on topical issues like mental health or sexism, all of them have one thing in common; they are all very effective in achieving their objective. These are just a few examples of the best PR stunts undertaken by our great industry so far this year, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2019 has in store!

If you want a clever PR campaign delivering this year, feel free to drop me a line and I will give you a call.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.