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Publicity is the spearhead of any business plan and it’s essential to be visible amongst a sea of competitors.

Dreams of the McWhopper were scuppered by McDonalds, but it still gained both companies some great media coverage. Sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to make sure you are noticed. Understanding the art of getting attention can lead to spectacular results. Here are five recent inventive PR stunts that grabbed the headlines and gave the companies responsible for them national and international reach.

1) Think big

Paper Bag Co. – World Record Bagged:  The Paper Bag Co., a UK paper bag supplier, saw the recent 5p levy on single use plastic carrier bags as an opportunity to show how easy paper bags were to recycle. The company’s director, Jon Marling, made the world’s biggest paper bag and then recycled it almost immediately into smaller bags for school children. Local and national media coverage ensured the event’s worth.

2) Go barking mad

Ladbrokes Barkingham Palace Gold Cup:   In conjunction with Ladbrokes and Kaper, a PR company called Sketch Events hosted a corgi dog racing event ahead of the royal birth – to help punters determine the name and gender of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridgeshire’s second baby. With hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube the event went viral and was even featured on TV in the USA.

3) Make time for a mystery

The Samsung Gear 2 Smart Watch Crop Circle:  Crop circles have remained a mystery for many years – often accredited to UFOs and unknown supernatural forces. It’s fair to say the marketers have been in one corn field in Rostov-on-don in Russia and made a crop circle smart watch – specifically a Gear S2. Samsung Electronics Co. eventually claimed responsibility for the anomaly which measured 10,000 square metres. This may well have been capitalising on recent crop circles seen in Russia and a tenuous news story on the discovery of an ‘alien’ corpse.

4) Call to controversy

Call of Duty developers spread terror:  Bad taste or good marketing? Anyone into video games will know of the war simulation series of first person perspective ‘shoot-em-ups’ under the banner of Call of Duty. Recently the game’s Twitter feed sparked controversy by sending out fake messages of a terror attack taking place in Singapore. While obviously condemned as bad taste by many, the screenshots from gameplay of the latest version of the game were soon making world press alongside the story.

5) Make a ‘Whopping’ gesture

Burger King proposes joining forces with McRival:  Burger King announced to the world it proposed McDonalds joined forces with Burger King to make a McWhopper hybrid burger, in line with the UN’s International Day of Peace. McDonald’s penned a slightly prickly public response saying ‘let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequalled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war’.  From the invitation to the response the whole exchange erupted in the media worldwide as the result. Arguably this PR stunt probably did both a favour in the international newsfeeds.

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3256093/Offensive-publicity-stunt-Call-Duty-video-game-developers-condemned-game-s-Twitter-feed-sent-fake-messages-terror-attack-taking-place-Singapore.html

http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/10/mysterious-crop-circle-in-russia-is-samsungs-latest-pr-stunt/

http://sketchevents.co.uk/2015/03/ladbrokes-barkingham-palace-gold-cup-2/

http://www.itv.com/news/west/update/2015-09-24/wiltshire-school-children-break-paper-bag-record/

http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2015/08/26/mcflop-why-burger-kingmcdonalds-peace-day-pr-stunt-was-dogs-dinner