A tweetin’ good treasure hunt

September 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm (PR Campaigns, Social Media, Strategic Communication) (, , , , )

'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown.

'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown.

Hot on the heels of Ellen-DeGeneres-style-Twitter-giveaways, is a Twitter Treasure Hunt for author Dan Brown’s book, ‘The Lost Symbol’.  

Borders Bookstores in the USA, will give away 80 copies of the book, all signed by Dan Brown to commemorate the release of the book, which has been eagerly anticipated by many avid fans around the world.

Each copy will be hidden at various Borders and Waldenbooks stores across the States, with clues to the secret locations to be delivered via Twitter.

The hunt commences 15 September and will continue until 24 September, 2009. Each clue will direct readers to the approximate super-secret location of the “Lost Symbol Golden Ticket” hidden somewhere in the 80 stores, which readers must discover and present at the information desk to claim their free, signed copy of “The Lost Symbol.”  

The creative nous behind this campaign has enabled the fellow “treasure seekers” to really engage with the Borders brand, making the Twitter feed another outlet to also flog what it has to offer (see the tweets about the links and posts detailing current Borders offers). Ample buzz has also been created around the release of the long-awaited book. And, between the 28,446 current followers of the hunt, there’s a whole lot of brand interaction happening there.

Also of note is the way in which Borders have tweeted about the individual experiences of the lucky winners, which has served to add a human face to the game. Read the following tweet:

“@keklar The one in Niles was found this morning by a woman who was apparently “shaking” w/ excitement. Thanks for playing! #goldenticket8:38 AM Sep 18th from web in reply to keklar


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What do a coconut and a vibrator have in common?

September 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm (Media Relations, PR stunts, Strategic Communication) (, , , , )

Following on from the recent post on Dove’s creative take on the traditional media release, an article on Mumbrella reports a recent spike in attention grabbing PR gifts.

In the article, Mumbrella note an overwhelming response from PR agencies that have sent a number of gifts to journalists in order to grab their attention and encourage media coverage. Here are some of Mumbrella’s most creative:

The Cabana Boys' coconut.

The Cabana Boys' coconut.

This week’s (almost) winner of the ‘Most attention grabbing PR gift’ came in the form of a coconut from new Sydney-based creative consultancy, Cabana Boys. The coconut was stamped with the website – YouveBeenHit.com.au. The website is an interesting read, especially if you are interested in finding out your chances of ‘death by coconut’ as opposed to ‘death by lightning strike’!

However, despite the ingenious creativity behind the coconut, it was trumped by a pink vibrator from lifestyle agency, Red PR. The vibrator came with a note: “A vibrating exercise you can do in front of your nana”. The stunt was actually to flog a vibrating exercise machine called the Power Plate.

The winner of the 'Most attention grabbing PR gift' goes to Red PR for the pink vibrator.

The winner of the 'Most attention grabbing PR gift' goes to Red PR for the pink vibrator.

The vibrator was a rather cheeky way to grab attention, but is undoubtedly highly effective. It just goes to show – creativity can go a long way to make you stand out from the crowd!

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A hairy crime

September 1, 2009 at 11:22 pm (Media Relations, PR Campaigns, PR stunts, Strategic Communication) (, , , )

Exhibit A: hair crime victim, Zoe.

Exhibit A: hair crime victim, Zoe.

A creative take on the traditional media release has seen PR agency, One Green Bean, transform an upmarket hair salon in Sydney’s Walsh Bay into a crime scene for a day.

Dove’s new range of Heat Defence Therapy hair products was launched with a crime scene theme in an effort to engage beauty editors with the products, and position them as the solution to the “self-harm epidemic taking place across the nation’s bedrooms and bathrooms.”

One Green Bean creatively used the launch as a way to “create a memorable experience for editors, who are bombarded with new product launches.”

The media component of this launch successfully leveraged support from the key publics’ most likely to report on the efficacy of the products, instead of blanketing many journalists – they even included beauty bloggers.

The launch was a great length to go to instead of just sending out a media release, but I think it speaks volumes about the dwindling effectiveness of the out-dated release format. Also, creating a memorable experience for the targeted beauty journalists/writers is a great relationship building tool that will serve Dove well in the future. I ask you, what beauty editor wouldn’t love to be chauffeured to a salon set up as a ‘Hair Crime Unit’ complete with coffee and cinnamon doughnuts?

To set the scene further, staff from Dove and One Green Bean dressed up as crime scene investigators and handed out ‘evidence’ of hair crimes, that included images of mutilated hair shafts as seen through a microscope and then showing a solution, as well as a demonstration to prove the results.

Exhibit B: hair crime victim, Yasemin.

Exhibit B: hair crime victim, Yasemin.

The outcome of the launch was many editorial leads for the brand, including a story on beauty website www.primped.com.au, and coverage in a range of weekly and monthly publications.

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999 nudes

August 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm (PR Campaigns, PR stunts, Social Media, Strategic Communication) (, , , )

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has forced many PR agencies to come up with creative, cost-effective campaigns. Here’s a campaign that’s sure to peak your interest!

999 nudes bared their no hidden extras.

999 nudes bared their no hidden extras.

A recent campaign by the Irish Airline, Aer Lingus, used a flash mob of 999 nudes to parade through central London wearing shamrock string bikinis (yes, there were men and women – and even a group of over 60’s that took part on the day). The shamrocks were also symbolic of St Patrick’s Day which occurred a few days after the launch on 15 March, 2009.

It was hoped that the parade of nudes would launch two things:

*The £9.99 cheap fare offer that was developed to counter the impact the recession has had on overseas travel; and

* The airline would be flying to eight new destinations from April 2009 including Nice, Malaga and Vienna.

In an effort to engage the British public and raise the profile of the brand, the PR team at Golley Slater, set up a recruitment campaign on social networking sites allowing members of the public to register their interest in attending the launch to bare all – this worked on a first-in-best-dressed basis – or should I say, a not-dressed-at-all basis!  

Participants were offered free flights to one of the eight new destinations as an incentive, further promoting the new destination. A total of 1,400 had registered to attend before the event.

Several newspapers were alerted to the stunt via the social media sites. A few outlets contacted the PR team in advance in attempt to get pre-event exclusives, but the media were not informed of the stunt location until the morning of the event. This was also done to ensure it was not intercepted by the authorities.

On the day of the stunt, a photographer from every national tabloid and London newspaper attended along with the Press Association, Getty Images, and other news and picture agencies. Capital Radio, XFM and Absolute Radio interviewed participants and several TV crews including London Tonight attended. A video was uploaded onto the BBC website and YouTube.

Overall, this campaign was successful in promoting the cheap £9.99 fare, and it also appealed to the sensibilities and humour of the British public – you only need to look at British comedy to detect their penchant for nudity i.e. Little Britain, Benny Hill. However, I don’t think Aer Lingus’ new base at London’s Gatwick, or the new international flight destinations came through in the campaign. Another campaign could have been used to gain focus on the other aspects of the campaign, as these other important details got lost in the buzz of the stunt.

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McDonalds promotes obesity: shamelessly

August 24, 2009 at 11:13 pm (PR Campaigns, PR stunts, Strategic Communication) (, , , )

Could this possibly be creativity at its worst?

Let the games begin: a conceptual depiction of the Midnight Gaming Championships.

Let the games begin: a conceptual depiction of the Midnight Gaming Championships.

The Midnight Gaming Championships (MGC), presented by the healthful food giant known as McDonalds, is a free and open-to-the-public tournament that helps raise awareness and acceptance of gaming – yes, gaming.

Participants compete in one of four games, including Guitar Hero World Tour, Madden NFL 09, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and the Fast and the Furious, at various McDonalds and Walmart locations in Philadelphia and across the USA.

The video clip that appears on the MGC website really says it all, check it out.

Kudos for creativity really does have to go to McDonalds for promoting the worthy cause of the poor, underserved gaming community. As the website indicates, the MGC is ultimately about ‘making casual and competitive gaming more accessible by offering more tournaments in more cities’.

Of course McDonalds would never shamelessly promote the fact that they are open until midnight, and in some locations 24/7. And, only to ‘aid the gamers throughout the night, McDonald’s will offer free McCafe specialty coffees and samples of the new Angus Third Pounders’.

A representative (owner/operator) from McDonalds in Philadelphia had this to say:

“McDonald’s is excited to present this gaming competition,” said Mike Anton, president of the Greater Philadelphia Area McDonald’s Owner/Operator Association. “McDonald’s is committed to our Philadelphia Region customers. Recognizing that many of them share a passion for gaming, we wanted to be able to provide them with a safe, comfortable, and convenient environment in which to compete while having fun!”

With McDonalds zealously driving the healthy-menu-options-bus around the world, this competition runs counter to what McDonalds is purporting to be. But let’s face it, it’s a great way to flog a new product (Angus Third Pounder) and promote other products (McCafe). McDonalds’ recipe for disaster is actually a recipe for success!

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Yoko Ono, Twitter and Haiku

August 22, 2009 at 11:20 pm (PR Campaigns, Social Media, Strategic Communication) (, , )

An unlikely combination I hear you say? Well, it wasn’t for media relations and news consultancy, Deliberate PR.
The Transvision digital screen in London's Kings Cross station displaying a haiku poem from a Twitter feed.

The Transvision digital screen at London's Kings Cross station displaying a live feed from Twitter.

In an attempt to raise the profile of the London arts venue, Kings Place, Deliberate PR devised a campaign that would capture the attention of the 110,000 commuters who pass through the nearby train station every day, as well as raise awareness among the wider arts -loving community. (Kings Place is located within sight of Kings Cross and St Paneras stations in London).


Joining forces with Network Rail and Titan Outdoor, the company responsible for the Transvision digital screen at Kings Cross station, Kings Place was armed with a truly creative campaign that met all of its objectives – a Twitter Haiku competition!

The digital screen was used to feed near real-time tweets of haiku prose submitted to the @kingsplace Twitter page by train commuter’s using their mobile phones. Entrants were asked to reflect on the coming of summer and their experiences of the season in their poetry.

And, although already creative enough, Yoko Ono was called in to judge the competition alongside leading UK poet, Jackie Kay. Ono was a nice fit as the style of poetry tied in with her Japanese heritage.

Avid tweeter, Yoko Ono, judging the Kings Place haiku competition.

Avid tweeter, Yoko Ono, judging the Kings Place haiku competition.

The live tweets were dubbed a ‘media first’ as this campaign was the first to use Twitter on a digital advertising screen.

And, once again, the power of a social media tool has cleverly been used to unite a number of organisations together to gain the one thing they are all after – attention.

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Gone bananas

August 19, 2009 at 12:11 am (PR Campaigns, Strategic Communication)

The latest organisation to weigh in on the anti-obesity fight is the Australian banana industry. According to a report in The Australian on Monday, the banana industry is worth $720 million, and is set to throw a fair amount of schtick – $3 million in TVC alone – at the issue of obesity in Australia.

The campaign, which will build on the long-running “Make those bodies sign” slogan, comes as the snackfood and advertising industries await the outcome of the National Preventative Health Taskforce’s recommendations for addressing obesity and other health issues –  a rather pre-emptive, strategic move, wouldn’t you say?

The pointy end of the banana will be directed at confectionary and processed snack manufacturers. The campaign developers and creators believe that it’s about time the unhealthy snack ‘big boys’ were scrutinised for adding to the obesity epidemic.

 Further to the TVC going live next month, the campaign will also include internet widgets, outdoor advertising, radio and in-store signage, plays on the fruit’s nickname “na-nas”, and unhealthy snackfood “no-nos”.

The campaign was developed by David Chenu, a former marketer of red meat at Meat & Livestock Australia and now domestic marketing manager for Horticulture Australia. Mr Chenu’s aim is to “make Australian bananas the number one snack of choice by 2015.”

The retail agency, Eleven Communications, is responsible for creating the campaign.

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Twitilating talk

August 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm (PR Campaigns, PR stunts, Social Media) (, , )

How’s this for creative – and sexy! Created by Glue London, visitors to Philips’ Sextalk website are greeted with an intimate image of a couple engaged in a loving pose.

The Philips Sex Talk website complete with sexy talk provided by Twitter.

The Philips Sex Talk website complete with sexy talk provided by Twitter.

Over the image, a collection of hundreds of different words that people use when talking about sex in their tweets, are displayed on screen.

When a user rolls over a word, the total number of times that particular word has been tweeted that day is displayed.

Also on the site, are the results of a recent, in-depth survey conducted by PR agency OneVoice, which monitors European couple’s attitudes towards sex.  

The Philips branding is hardly even visible on the website, are social media tools – such as Twitter –steering branding away in an attempt t make a social, personal connection with its publics? Do you think this is effective?

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Nissan tweets along

August 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm (PR Campaigns, Social Media) (, , )

The Micra Tweet City Tweetalyser

The Micra Tweet City Tweetalyser

This week, Nissan launched simultaneous Twitter campaigns for its Micra and Dualis models.

Tequila Sydney, an interactive agency, launched the Micra Tweet City website asking visitors “What type of Twitterer are you?”. Users can find their ‘tweet types’ by simply entering their Twitter username into the ‘Tweetalyser’.

The Broadcaster, Social Butterfly, The Star – are some of the many examples of ‘tweet types’ available. Information about the Micra is also mentioned on the site, as well as the chance to win one as part of a database creation exercise.

What's in the Dualis? website

What's in the Dualis? website

Tequila is also responsible for the digital part of an integrated campaign for Nissan’s Dualis. A Twitter profile, WotsInTheDualis, gives followers clues as to what item could be hidden in the boot of the car to win a prize. Additional clues are given on the What’sInTheDualis? website which allows visitors to the site to explore the animated car. A TVC accompanying the campaign breaks tomorrow.

Do you think that Nissan’s Twitter campaign elements are reflective of the target publics they are trying to engage, or are they just jumping on the social media bandwagon?

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Let’s talk about sex

August 11, 2009 at 12:13 am (PR Campaigns, PR stunts)

Educating teenagers and young adults about STDs (Sexually Transmissible Diseases) presents a challenge. It’s an embarrassing subject but someone’s got to tackle it.

In New York, MTV recently teamed up with Planned Parenthood and the Kaiser Family Foundation to launch the “GYT: Get Yourself Tested” campaign, aimed at reducing the embarrassment around getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases”.

On April 2, a pre-launch guerilla marketing effort stunt on the American TV breakfast show,  Today, in which MTV interns rushed at host Matt Lauer wearing T-shirts with the slogan, “WTF is GYT?” but refused to explain what the slogan meant. The idea behind this was to leave the GYT explanation vague initially, in the hope that it would build buzz.

Creatively, I like the way they used limited information to create “buzz”. In a world of so much information, it’s refreshing to shift away from our information-obsessed ways to raise awareness of an important issue.  

An interesting article about creating buzz can be found on the Visual Adviser website.  The article suggests a number of ways in which to create buzz for your organisation. One way is by using a stunt, just like the “GYT: Get Yourself Tested” campaign mentioned above.

I believe that stunts are an effective PR tactic to create buzz and interest about a company or product. Can you think of any PR stunts that have gone wrong and still created buzz? And, can there be such a thing as ‘bad buzz’?


Washkuch, F.. (2009, April). MTV aligns with groups to promote STD testing. PRweek, 12(15), 3.  Retrieved August 10, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. (Document ID: 1708652561).

Creating Buzz About Your Company. Retrieved 10 August, 2009 from http://www.va-interactive.com/inbusiness/editorial/sales/articles/creatingbuzz.html

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