In March of 2018, Red Bull did something amazing.
To celebrate the New Moon, the energy drink brand decided to create a public stir. From the highest building in Los Angeles, hired professionals glided down wearing branded wingsuits.
Their attached sparkler technology against the setting sun left onlookers dazzled and confused. Many of them believed they were looking at a UFO. Many more took the opportunity to record and post the event on social media.
Overall, the company gave a new, literal meaning to its popular slogan, “Red Bull Gives You Wings.” This work of showmanship is the perfect example of a great PR stunt.
What is a PR stunt? Some think it’s a meaningless, cheap way to garner traction. Some believe it’s a wondrous artistic marketing strategy. Here, we’ll give you the rundown on PR stunts, and what they can do for your brand.
What is a PR Stunt?
A PR stunt (or publicity stunt) describes an interesting or elaborate organized event that acts as a promotion for a brand. This can also be called a publicity or public relations stunt. Either way, these one-off events must be attention-grabbing, original, and in the modern age, worthy of viral content.
Unlike other forms of marketing, PR stunts can’t be easily broken down into categories. The point of PR stunts is to be rare, different, and unexpected. They are not meant to be primary advertisements. Instead, they’re tools used to gain immediate media attention.
The timing of a PR stunt will depend on the company and its current situation. Companies normally use them when launching a new product or service.
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What Are The Benefits?
PR stunts offer many potential benefits for brands. Every company wants an advertisement that stands out from competitors. A public stunt allows you to do so while highlighting your brand’s values.
Let’s take the Red Bull stunt, for example. There are many energy drink brands out there, but what other energy drink will make you feel as though you’re gliding from a high building in Los Angeles?
PR stunts garner lots of attention and news coverage. Even when the stunt is more on the controversial side, it gets people talking about the brand in question. Going viral will help your message spread to customers all over the world.
From a marketer’s standpoint, PR stunts can also create a positive environment in the workplace. It’s no longer business as usual in the office; for this ad, they are creating something big, imaginative, and fun. This may not seem important at first, but a happy and excited team will often create a better end result.
How Much Do They Cost?
Despite these benefits, PR stunts are probably the most expensive form of outdoor marketing. Because its main selling point is shock value, companies must invest in many products, supplies, professionals, and technology. To pull off a successful public stunt, you must find a strategic way to manage your budget and resources.
Having a low budget or small business does not make PR stunts unattainable, but it is much harder to pull off. Just two months before the Red Bull event, Weight Watchers launched a healthy food drive-thru in London. They simply gave out free food for an entire day.
Marketers on a smaller budget can take note of this, and apply it to their own stunts. Free sampling, costumes, confetti, music, and alternative communication tactics can all work to garner maximum shock value.
The more funds you have to spare, the more outlandish your stunt can be. Successful PR stunts gain the money right back through the increase in sales. They can have a fantastic return on investment.
Can They Fail?
Unfortunately, due to their unpredictable nature, there are a lot of ways in which a PR stunt can fail. Here are just a few of them:
- Not reading the room: When brainstorming possible publicity stunts, it is important to consider time and place. A stunt that involves spraying water on people, for instance, would work well on a beach, but not inside a busy mall. You should also keep world events and recent controversies in mind, as you don’t want your ad to come off as insensitive.
- Technical difficulties: If you’re pulling a stunt as wild as Red Bull’s, you must make sure to have the correct equipment and technology, along with trained professionals. If you have a technical difficulty, it can cause confusion. In the worst cases, it can be tragic. Overall, it would reflect very poorly on your brand.
- Not having enough shock value: If it doesn’t draw attention, it’s not a stunt.
- Failure to convey a message or call to action.
- Failure to highlight your brand: No matter how good the stunt is, if the people don’t know who created it, your brand will not receive any benefit.
- Not reviewing laws and regulations in your targeted area.
Can They Succeed?
While there are many things to keep in mind, PR stunts succeed very often. Uber’s helicopter rides, McDonald’s Women’s Day flip, and a giant KFC logo that’s visible from space are just a few prime examples. Successful PR stunts require a proper vision, hired professionals, and as we went over, the right budget.
A proper vision requires lots of brainstorming. Think of what gets people excited about a product or service, and combine that with what people find exciting in general. Free food, for example, is something that people love. Making branded bags of candy and shooting them from a cannon takes it to the next level.
You should always hire professionals when you are working on your home. This is not only for safety reasons, but also to make sure that you get the most out of your vision. No matter which stunts you’re trying to pull, a professional designer, engineer, or conductor will help turn your vision into a reality.
Featured Image: Andy Farrington/Red Bull Content Pool