With the World Cup fast approaching, businesses and brands are jumping on the bandwagon. Such a high profile and global event is surely worth plugging all that advertising, marketing and PR budget into. Right at the top of the PR pyramid, is the PR stunt, designed for maximum impact and as many gasps and shrieks as it can muster.
Not surprising then, that Paddy Power (known for its controversial stunts) has caused a stir with its latest antics. In the height of the World Cup build up, pictures were posted on Twitter supposedly showing an aerial view of the Amazon rainforest with gouges carved out of it to spell out the message “C’mon England”.
Outrage quickly sparked throughout the online community and the post trended within hours. This prompted the bookmaker to finally confess in a blog post that the photos were actually computer edited and that no harm had come to the rainforest. A subsequent picture was then posted encouraging followers to visit the page for Greenpeace’s rainforest protection campaign. And hey presto, suddenly all was right within the Twitter community again and Paddy Power, lovers of nature and environmentalists, were simply highlighting an important issue.
Although some branded the stunt as the “most idiotic PR stunt ever”, I would certainly question this statement. A PR stunt by its very essence needs to create hype and shock its audience. In fact, the more shocking, the better. Even better if an escape route or “calmer” is planned to put the brand back in the good books (and saving the rainforest is a pretty sure bet!).
The stunt achieved national coverage, in many cases twice over as the story progressed with thousands of shares over Twitter. Would a #savetherainforest World Cup campaign have had the same impact if people had known it was fake? Sadly this is probably unlikely, and Paddy Power knows this.
Knowing your audience is key, who will react? When will it happen? In today’s world where social media spreads news and reactions like wildfire, there’s no room for error.
Now I’m not the betting kind (office sweep stake not included) but I have to say if I did plan on chancing it, Paddy Power springs to mind. Successful stunt? I’ll let you decide.