PR stunts so bad they’re almost good

Some ideas seem really good at the time. Be the mayor. Take an employee, dress them up like a salad ingredient, and leapfrog them into the headlines courtesy of a colourful photo op. But then disaster. You have forgotten your inability to leap high enough. And you kick the unsuspecting staff member in the head and it costs you a lot of money. Sadly the whole incident is captured in photographic brilliance for the world to laugh at.

“Jim Rodgers accidentally kicked Belfast City Council employee Lorraine Mallon in the head in a publicity stunt that went spectacularly wrong. Ms Mallon, who was dressed up as the huge fruit for a photo shoot to promote a gourmet food fair, suffered a slipped disc in the ill-fated leap.

She brought a negligence case against the council and a settlement was reached this week in Belfast High Court.

She has been paid £24,021.75 with the council also agreeing to cover the cost of the action.

Egged on by press photographers, Mr Rodgers tried to jump over her but he slipped on wet grass on his run up and ended up kneeing her in the back of the head.”

Ouch. The second bad PR stunt comes courtesy of a PR company in Singapore who thought it would be fun to dress somebody up as a bear and have them hang out at a bus stop. Late at night. Only, their bear costume was a little bit too realistic. Prompting panic, and zookeepers prowling around with tranquilliser guns. Prompting a little trouble, and the release of this statement.

“We had anticipated the attention that the bear will draw but did not anticipate that it would cause any alarm. We acknowledge the too-near resemblance of the mascot to a live bear in the bus-stop video.”

“In retrospect, perhaps we should have made the bear do something more obvious like a dance at the bus-stop to ensure that consumers knew that this was a humorous stunt. We sincerely apologize for any concerns raised and inconvenience caused.”
For the record, the initial sighting of the supposed bear at the bus-stop was one of many appearances planned.

“We had also intended for the bear to make humorous and tongue-in-cheek escorted, mascot appearances in place of high traffic such as participating in marathons and queuing at hawker centers to buy food etc. Later on, we would form a close link between the bear and the shaver.”

These plans however have been shelved.

The seemingly innocent campaign is now being investigated by the police and may be classified as a public nuisance case, which under Section 268 of the Penal Code could lead to a fine of S$1,000.

The third comes courtesy of an Orange County band called Imperial Stars who thought parking a truck in the middle of the highway was a good way to promote a new song called Traffic Jam. And it was. Because you’re reading about it now. They stopped, climbed on top of the truck and serenaded traffic for about twenty minutes. Things were going well. Until:

“The freeway musicians didn’t have more than about 20 minutes to perform before they were swarmed by Los Angeles Police Department officers, followed by California Highway Patrol officers and Fire Department personnel. The driver of the truck apparently fled the scene with the keys, so the CHP had to call in a tow truck.

A ladder was propped against the band’s truck so the musicians could climb down. Northbound motorists crawling up the freeway gawked at the spectacle on the opposite side. A driver in a pickup waved cheerily as he drove by.

The band members were arrested on suspicion of a medley of criminal counts — malicious and willful disturbance by loud noise, willful obstruction of public officers or emergency medical personnel, committing an act injuring the public health, and the old standby, unlawful assembly.”

If your PR stunt gets you a fine, or prison time, you’re probably not doing it right.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.