Publicity Stunts, One of Marketing’s Oldest Tricks

Publicity Stunts, One of Marketing’s Oldest Tricks

Posted by: 120 Advertising

Marketing and advertising concentrate on generating attention and recognition for brands but when online efforts are not getting the brand high up the ranks, then something big is called for. Did you know Tour De France started off as a publicity stunt for L’Auto newspaper, or that the Hollywood sign was designed in 1923 to get attention for a real-estate agency? These statements of grandeur are the marketing publicity stunts which have created unforgettable moments in advertising history.

The Original Publicity Stunts

Publicity stunts are not just a modern trick to advertise brands of today; in 1600 William Kempe, one of William Shakespeare’s actors, self promoted with a 100-mile dance marathon across southern England. Not only did the publicity stunt help him raise money and gain recognition, he later cashed-in on a book he wrote about his prancing adventure called ‘Kempe’s Nine Days of Wonder’. The reason this story is relevant in today’s digital world is because it simplifies the principles of using an eye-catching event to stamp your brand in people’s memory.

The real question is, do publicity stunts really work or are companies just exposing themselves to public failure? The answer is they do really work but failure is always an option when there is major publicity around a brand. Here are some examples of both cases:

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

Dove took a big risk with their now world famous campaign for real beauty. Bypassing professional models used by their competitors and ditching what was already working for most beauty products, Dove boldly used ‘real’ women in their campaign and the theme of self-love for women of all shapes. The idea behind the campaign was the selling point, not just the qualities of the product itself. The campaign paid off by becoming one of the most memorable publicity stunts in the modern advertising world, distinguishing Dove’s brand among competitors and boosting sales by 700 percent. #itPAYS2bREAL

Pontiac’s Car Giveaway

Pontiac, on the other hand, made a great deal with the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004 to premier their new car on the new season at the time. Pontiac offered their unreleased G6 Sedan for a never-before-seen on TV car giveaway, to every single member of the audience. More than a decade later the “you get a car, you get a car” moment is still cited, discussed and has been turned into a meme, however, what was etched in everyone’s mind is an exciting TV moment including Oprah and her show, Pontiac’s recognition paled in comparison to Oprah’s fame and their publicity stunt did not pay-off the approximate $7.7 million it cost the company. #FAIL

Does Dove’s success inspire you or does Pontiac’s failure scare you? It shouldn’t be one or the other, every brand can make its own statement and with the right preparation it can prove to be very successful. Events exponentially improve your company’s connection with clients, and publicity stunts get media attention by making a statement to help the world remember your brand.

If you are looking for big, brave ideas that will make an impact, speak with the 120ADVERTISING team and we’ll get our creative engines rolling to help you.