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Is It Time for A Publicity Stunt?

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June 26, 2019

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “publicity stunt”?  Maybe an outlandish, yet very newsworthy means of capturing media attention? 

In the business context, a publicity stunt is an inherently volatile PR  tactic, that when executed well, can accelerate brand awareness and position.  Yet, if we learn from Richard Branson, arguably the godfather of company launch publicity stunts, the rewards quite often outweigh the risk.

So this week, we’re asking when, if ever, is the right time for a publicity stunt?

Remember Wrigley’s?  The gum, not the baseball field.  Not only is Wrigley responsible for the best tasting gum, but in an effort to increase sales, he invented the direct-to-consumer marketing by sending free samples to $1.5 million homes listed in the telephone books.  If the $44 billion dollar direct-to-consumer mail industry is any indication, there’s value in letting the market decide.

Before there were labels that listed every calories or disclosed every ingredient, H.J. Heinz founded the movement towards transparency in the food industry.  It all started out as Heinz factory tours to allay public concerns about the secret behind the sauce.  Perhaps there is no better way to build brand allegiance, than radical transparency.

If you waited in line for any iPhone model, then it should come as no surprise that Steve Jobs’ reputation as the launch king started in 1984.  With a few famous words: “Hello, I’m Macintosh.  It sure is great to get out of the bag”  a new era of tech.  While publicity stunts often place the attention on gimmick, consider letting your product speak for itself.  Literally.

As you remember from the playground, there are no winners in the game of attention seeking.  However, when done right, leveraging unconventional PR to drive interest and support for your brand may prove just as successful as these and other well known companies.


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