PR stunts in a digital age

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

With social media, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook and good old word of mouth, brand stunts have the opportunity to influence wider audiences than ever before. A ‘stunt’ in one place has the potential to amplify and reach thousands, it not millions, of people if it is good enough. These experiences give people an opportunity to interact with a brand and learn a little bit more about them.

Increasingly ‘stunts’ are becoming a more important way for brands to create buzz and generate cut-through in a saturated media environment. With lots of brands and people, pulling lots of stunts there is a threat of people becoming bored and unimpressed. (Once you’ve seen one flashmob big band, surprise wedding proposal on YouTube you’ve seen ’em all.) The best stunts catch your attention by being clever, shocking, funny, informative or just plain cool. They make you want to share them with your friends and create some space in your mind (and hopefully pocket) for the brand in question.

The stunts below are a selection of the weird and the wonderful that we’ve come across recently.

Press the Button (TNT TV Belgium)

TNT, a TV channel in Belgium set up a big red button in a small Belgian town with a sign that read ‘Push To Add Drama’ and waited for someone to push it. The second someone pushes the button chaos breaks out, a man on a stretcher falls out of an ambulance, another man fights paramedics, and an all out gun battle breaks out in a police chase.

TNT knows drama.

Ford Pinball Machine Paris

Rumour has it that Parisian drivers really don’t care about the cars around them and they’ll drive or park where ever and how ever they like… And sometimes… Sorry, most times, that means if they need to squeeze into a car space, they will, anyway they can, complete with bumps, scratches and dints on every corner of the car. They don’t care. Crazy right?!

So Ford Europe, created the Parisian Pinball Park Challenge. A digital installation that was created around a free parking space in Paris, the catch was, the space was small and the cars either side of the parking space were rigged up to the overhead pinball score board… The worse the driver, the more points they scored, with the winner being presented a brand new car complete with active park assist which conveniently parks the car perfectly!

Smart Car Pinball

Smart Car has been getting some huge buzz around their animated twitter ads from Argentina, but this highly innovative piece of digital convergence might just beat it. It’s called Smart eBall, but think of it as a Smart Car controlled “pong” gaming installation, created to showcase the responsiveness of the new, third generation, electric Smart Car.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motorshow, the installation uses multiple sensors to track the car’s exact position, ultimately controlling each players pong paddle on the giant digital screen in-front of them…

Lush Animal Testing Protest

 Some  stunts prefer to go to the extreme to gain attention. This week Lush on Regent St carried out animal testing using  young woman as a  lab rat. The subject in question was force-fed and given injections, her eyes streamed from irritant, her arm bled as she tried to resist needles. Carried out by performance artist Oliver Cronk and his subject Jacqueline Traide, they wanted to raise awareness of the cruelty of animal testing in the cosmetic industry. Lush want people to start thinking about what they buy and what processes have gone into bringing a product to market.

Opinion is divided on Lush’s recent stunt, especially given that Lush chose to run this campaign in a country where the testing of cosmetic products on animals is banned and which has the strictest animal welfare provisions regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes anywhere in the EU. But is certainly got people talking and opened up the area for further debate.

MIT Tetris Building

And finally, some people like to carry out stunts just because they can.

Hackers overrode the tallest building in Boston last week, turning the 21-story Green Building at MIT into a giant Tetris puzzle game controllable from a nearby joystick attached to a podium. They used 153 wirelessly controlled color-changing LED lights for the giant game on a building that hosts MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science facilities.

The MIT-hosted Hack Gallery notes, “MIT hackers have long considered ‘Tetris on the Green Building’ to be the Holy Grail of hacks, as the side of the building is a wonderful grid for the game.” Players could control the prodigious puzzler with the ability to rotate, drop, and move blocks just like the real thing.


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