How Publicity Stunts Can Catalyze Your Business

Publicity Stunts


You have mastered many tried-and-true marketing techniques for your business, but now you’re spinning your wheels wondering what to do next.


Maybe your marketing efforts feel stale and the cost associated with them is not yielding brand or product awareness like you envisioned. Perhaps it’s time to get your staff to the whiteboard and brainstorm some wild and crazy ideas. Just one outrageous idea might be the catalyst your business needs to generate renewed excitement and buzz. Consider some of these examples:


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade


The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 as an attempt to raise awareness for the growing department store chain. The original parade was much simpler than the Thanksgiving TV extravaganza it is now. The first parade simply featured the store employees and some zoo animals – a far cry from the massive floats it features today.


Learn from Macy’s example: a stunt can be simple. What kind of event could your business host that might not seem associated with your business but could become so in the future? Use the same spirit of creativity that Macy’s did to come up with a stunt that could put your business on the map. You may even use the online wheel spinners that randomize numbers and generate random ideas and see which one sticks. Who knows, your random idea could be the launchpad for a new business venture.


Guinness’ Message in a Bottle


In 1954, Guinness orchestrated an amazing stunt by dropping 50,000 sealed bottles into the ocean containing messages. The event created a frenzy of bottle-searchers who were rewarded with a small memento of their find when they notified Guinness of where the bottle was found. Bottles continue to wash up on shores around the world, even today.


What kind of mass marketing could your company do to create a connection with consumers? In Guinness’s case, the process of having the finders notify Guinness of the bottles location and receiving a gift allowed Guinness to capture prospective consumers’ names and addresses in a way that was less transparent to the consumer.


Goodyear’s Blimp


For almost 90 years, the Goodyear tire company has used its ubiquitous blimps for advertising. Originally built for government use, in 1960 Goodyear started using blimps during football games and attaching cameras to them to get pictures of the stadium from above. Naturally, this also enabled thousands of attendees to see the Goodyear brand. Over the years, dozens of blimps have been built and used in events such as football, yacht races, air races, and even the Olympics.


Most recently, Goodyear opened the naming of the new blimp – technically now an airship – to the public and received thousands of entries in a contest to name the newest air machine. Like the Guinness example, Goodyear took their advertising through blimps to a whole new level by engaging the public more directly through the use of a contest. The Goodyear example also illustrates that a stunt can become a cultural mainstay when improved on over time. Consider a stunt you can keep improving on and keep up for the long term.


Taco Bell’s Liberty Bell Hoax


Sometimes a good stunt can simply be a hoax that generates attention. In an age where sponsorship is king, Taco Bell took the notion of business sponsorship to a new level in 1996 when the company launched a massive newspaper ad campaign announcing it was buying the Liberty Bell and renaming the bell, the “Taco Liberty Bell.” The ad campaign included press releases from the company that informed the public that the monument was now going to be owned by a corporation. Naturally, this panicked many and sent swarms of people into Taco Bell franchises nationwide. Taco Bell had to eventually cop to the fact that the campaign was simply an April’s Fools joke, but it’s estimated that Taco Bell saw a $600k boost in sales in just the first week of April alone that year.


What can your company do to be shocking, even if what shocks the public is not real? Tactics like these aren’t for the risk averse but for a bold company ready to make a huge splash, it might be just the catalyst you’re looking for.

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