Thought Bubble

The Simple Secret to Brilliant PR Stunts

June 06, 2014, 6:26pm posted by  |  0 comments

Posted in: The Media Landscape, Zipcar, Alyssa Chard,

The Simple Secret to Brilliant PR Stunts

This post was written by Alyssa Chard, one of CK's summer interns.

Memorial Day weekend was a memorable one for lovers of Arby’s Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich. Viewers were able to tune in to watch Arby’s new 13-hour ad that shattered the Guinness World Record for longest commercial ever aired. The dialogue-free commercial, which premiered on local network My9 in Duluth, Minnesota, featured a Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich being slow-cooked for 13 hours before being made into an Arby’s sandwich.

In a world where most ads are colorful, captivating and no longer than 15- to 60-seconds, this spot broke all the rules. And yet it got a huge number of people talking about it.

The commercial was covered by the New York Times, Mashable and the Huffington Post as well as a wide range of other major news outlets. But more important, Arby’s underlying message is getting across. Their brisket really is slow-cooked for 13 hours; the hickory smoke flavor does not come from a bottle, as many have long assumed.

So what is the secret to a brilliant PR stunt like this one? It may lie in simplicity. Companies are often most successful when they tap into the core of what they do best and share that simple truth with the world.  And when they do it in a highly creative and unique way, their message is much more likely to break through and stick.

CooperKatz believes in the impact of PR stunts supported by a simple but powerful message. One such initiative was Zipcar’s campaign to convince those living in urban areas to rethink how they use transportation – including car ownership.  CooperKatz helped Zipcar launch the Low Car Diet Challenge to do just that. For one month, hundreds of car owners in major Zipcar cities agreed to put their car keys away and travel solely by Zipcar and public transportation. It was a PR and marketing stunt that drove major media hits and buzz.  But thanks to the simplicity and power of the underlying point, Zipcar got its message across.

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