Modern publicity stunts created with Social Media

In the past decade, the internet has had a huge impact on how public relations professionals operate. The birth of social media has created new avenues in product placement and offers an incredible reach opportunity for companies.

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  1. Publicity stunts date back to the early half of the twentieth century. By staging and managing organised events, organisations would attempt to gain some control over what was reported in the media about their particular product or service. Successful publicity stunts offered news value, photo and or video opportunities, and were arranged primarily for favourable media coverage.
  2. The below photo taken in 1910, shows one of the first ever recorded publicity stunts in which 'Little Hip' the elephant was used to create interest for the Mission Theatre in Salt Lake City.
  3. In todays world, publicity stunts still aim to achieve the same goals, however the media platforms available to launch them have greatly changed. Social media is expanding rapidly. Facebook has recently reported a 40% increase over the last six months with now over 350 million active users. 50% of these users reportedly log on every day, spending an average of 55 minutes on the site. Social media sites are now imperitive to the survival of business, allowing them to build relationships with their consumers in a way that has never existed before.
  4. Publicity stunts succeed when they are visual and instant. Social media gives companies these tools to create memorable moments that attract their target audience's interest and ultimately, their business. The following articles take a further look into publicity stunts made large on social media sites. As we will see they dont always work.
  5. Snickers finds the right 'Price' on Twitter.
  6. Snickers in the UK recently used microblogging site, Twitter for a imaginiative and witty publicity stunt. Through the hijacking of television star, Katie Price's Twitter page, snickers gained mass exposure for their brand, sending their latest campaign message out to be read by the 1.5 million fans subscribed to the celebrity's page.

    The publicity stunt involved a number of tweets discussing current global financial issues, which had many of her followers guessing she had been hacked. Gaining much attention, a final tweet “You’re not you when you’re hungry @snickersuk #hungry #spon” along with a link to the photo below showing Price holding up a Snickers bar, clarified for fans that her twitter account had in fact been 'hijacked' by the confectionary company.

    However successful in creating huge 'buzz' around their chocolate bar, this highly imaginative publicity stunt raised some questions about the intentions of the organisation, with some critics believing that by suggesting Price's 'usual self' as shallow and unintelligent, they belittled the star, whats more, implied that a person consuming the chocolate bar may become like this too.
  7. Bayern Munich's Facebook Flop
  8. Proving that publicity stunts can go wrong, German football team Bayern Munich's attempt at a stunt using social media site Facebook, landed the team knee deep in negative feedback from its online fans.

    In attempt to increase its Facebook subscribers, Bayern Munich excited its passionate fans announcing that an upcoming press conference would release the name of a new star player set to be added to the football teams line up. To gain access to the breaking news all fans had to do was 'like' the FC Bayern Munchen's Facebook page.
  9. Unfortunately excitement turned to anger after the big reveal, when coach Nerlinger turned around a piece of paper showing the profile picture of the Facebook user watching the video. The hoax did not go down well with Bayern fans, realising that it was simply a gimmick to get their attention. They began spreading their displeasure on Facebook at Twitter sites. One apologetic Facebook post by Bayern earning over 5,000 negative comments.

    After realising fans disappointment with the new app, Bayern Munich released a public apology to its 3.2 million Facebook fans.
  10. Lynx predicts end of world with social media
  11. In December 2011 Lynx used a major outdoor publicity stunt in the heart of London to launch its latest social media marketing campaign. Going viral within days of its release, the men's deodorant company, focused on the theme of the world's end on 21st December 2012 as predicted in the Mayan calendar.

    In anticipation of their last days on earth, the campaign gives men the opportunity to propose their last wishes through the use of a quirky Facebook app. To spread the word, a horde of beautiful women known as "Lynx Mynxs" took to the streets of London with sandwich boards, directing men to the 'Lynx Last Request' application.

    The publicity stunt was designed not only to build hype for the Lynx brand, but to reveal their new range of products appropriately titled the 'Final Edition' Lynx collection.

    This was a cross-platform social media campaign, featuring, in addition to the Facebook app a Twitter hashtag #endoftheworld for users of Twitter to get involved. The following is the video that went viral, it shows, how the stunt was uniquely played out.
  12. Lynx 2012: The End Of The World March, London
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