With over 9,000 snaps consumed on Snapchat per second, 80 million photos uploaded to Instagram daily and a phenomenal 30 billion WhatsApp messages sent every day it’s becoming increasingly hard for brands to cut through the noise. In addition to this, millennials are savvier than ever, meaning an increasing number of companies are turning to provocative press tactics to grab attention and steal headlines. We look back at 6 of the most memorable PR campaigns from the past few years and analyze their performance.
Top 6 best PR Stunts
1. ‘The Dress’ by Salvation Army
Who could forget 2015’s phenomenon of the ‘The Dress’?! The colour of this humble dress shook social media with just about everyone weighing in on the debate. Arguably the best thing to come out of this viral photo was The Salvation Army’s arresting parody highlighting the effects of domestic violence stating ‘Why is it so hard to see black and blue’. It made everyone stop and stare and was so powerful in it’s simplicity. The campaign went on to win a Webby Award for best Social Media campaign.
2. Snickers x Jeremy Clarkson
We all know how hangry feels but back in March last year Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson made the papers by allegedly punching a producer over a row about… steak. So in in reaction, chocolate brand Snickers, whose slogan is ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ famously sent a box of chocs addressed to Clarkson emblazoned with their tagline. It was showcased in the most simple of tweets that was so perfectly well timed and sassy. Bravo Snickers.
3. ‘Canine Collection’ by Lyst
The most recent in our roundup, Lyst’s controversial ‘Canine Collection’ campaign sparked widespread outrage across Twitter. In an obscure PR hoax, the fashion site claimed to be selling a wide variety of dogs to ‘match your outfit’. Within a matter of hours the Internet was up in arms calling the campaign ‘disgusting’. The company, which had support from controversial social agency The Social Chain, kept the stunt running for a little too long and are even accused of setting up fake twitter accounts to troll themselves and further promote the campaign. After 48 hours the site announced that the stunt was actually designed to raise awareness for puppy farming claiming ‘a dog is for life not just for Instagram’. Lyst stated that the campaign had sparked 10,000+ mentions amongst angry dog owners compared to a mere 158 the week prior. It’s not the first time that Lyst have have used shock tactics for their PR strategy. Earlier this year they ‘kidnapped’ a DHL driver in another stunt demanding 1,000 Vetements inspired t-shirts as ransom.
4. ‘Perceptions of Perfection’ by Superdrug
Perhaps one of the most memorable and eye opening campaigns of 2015 was Superdrug’s ‘Perceptions of Perfection’ campaign which sought to answer the question ‘How do perceptions of beauty vary across the globe?’. In a nutshell they asked graphic designers from around the world to photoshop one image of a woman and the results were truly interesting. From country to country her body morphed in a range of different shapes, sizes and skin tones highlighting world’s unrealistic beauty standards and cultural differences. Overall the campaign was shared by 600 sites and garnered over one million social shares.
5. ‘Commit to Something’ by Equinox
Shot by fashion photographer Steven Klein, American gym chain Equinox launched a provocative New Year’s campaign centered around the idea of committing to something (even if it’s not the gym). Each glossy image tells an unusual and somewhat provocative story ranging from a mother breastfeeding in public to a nude women’s rights campaigner and even a graphic orgy scene. The campaign was designed to ignite reaction and divide opinion, even making viewers feel uncomfortable… but did it also make them feel like hitting the gym?
6. ‘Beach Body Ready’ by Protein World
Protein World’s controversial ‘Beach Body Ready’ campaign received over 400 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority claiming it objectified women and sent out a dangerous message. The large scale ads, which showed a bikini clad woman with a perfect body sparked outrage amongst people taking offense at the notion that one has to be toned and slim to be beach body ready and that other body types are inferior. The image was labelled ‘toxic’ and it’s even claimed that a petition on Change.org even gathered over 70,000 signatures to take down the campaign.
By the looks of things it seems that the trend for provocative PR shows no signs of subsiding. Ever more, brands are looking for new ways to stand out of the crowd and make a name for themselves at whatever cost. These controversial tactics used to be exclusively utilised by the likes of gambling and alcohol sites but they seem to be infiltrating the fashion industry at a rapid pace by the likes of Lyst, Benetton and even Kim’s infamous Paper magazine cover. So what do you think? Do you really need to be provocative to ‘break the internet’ or is it just 15 minutes of fame?
|By Sian Oflaherty – Content and Communications Manager UK & AU|