What an extraordinary week. Outside it’s pissing down – and it’s also raining PR masterstrokes that would find their way into any publicity hall of fame.Frankly it was not a good start, as yet another lacklustre PR survey was trundled out on behalf of a faceless insurance company. Yawn – one in five of us do not feel safe in their own home at night, while a third of householders have weapons at hand to protect themselves from intruders.
The facts were quoted all over the media, but sadly there were only a handful brand mentions to connect the survey with the business that commissioned it. The facts were more interesting than the faceless online insurer. Clearly, the survey was initiated to generate publicity, but ultimately it did not deliver.
Luckily, the week got better and my faith in great PR was restored with a trio of global publicity triumphs to promote the Simpsons movie.
People in Dorset woke up to see another chalk drawing in the hillside next to the Cerne Abbas giant. This 55-metre chalk giant – depicted wielding two clubs, one military and one anatomical – has been considered a fertility symbol for four centuries.
His new playmate etched in chalk is wielding a doughnut not a club, has only three hairs on his head and is wearing the world’s largest pair of Y fronts. He is known the world over as Homer Simpson. Laugh? I nearly choked on my Krispy Kreme donut.
I also loved the first stunt in the US, a clever hunt for the “Home of the Simpsons”. Fox invited 32 Springfields in the America to participate in a competition to host the the Simpsons movie premiere and ultimately to be named as “Home of the Simpsons”. To enter, the town had to submit a three- to five-minute video demonstrating enthusiasm for The Simpsons.
The competition caused excitement around the world and gained global coverage. The winning town was Springfield, Vermont, which will host the premiere in its cinema, which holds only 300 people.
The next step was the Kwik-E-Mart stunt, where the famous convenience store in the Simpsons TV show was recreated in a dozen 7-Eleven stores, selling Buzz Cola, Krusty O’s cereals and Squishee soft drinks.
I take my hat off to these three scams, old-fashioned hype worthy of any of the great movie stuntsters. It goes to show that great stunts do generate coverage and do work. These days it is often considered too risky and expensive to implement large-scale stunts to publicise movies, but the Simpsons movie has proved that theory wrong – they have really gone to town in the true spirit of the publicity stunt.
The week finished off with another extraordinary flash of brilliance when home secretary Jacqui Smith upturned the proverbial barrel by admitting that she smoked cannabis. She becomes the first serving law and order supremo to confess to a criminal offence.
Perhaps more astonishing was that we have a key member of the cabinet talking truthfully for once. Fessing up on GMTV proved that the new Downing Street PR team are canny lot. The stunt eclipses a decade of bluster and spin that has frustrated the media and public alike. This stunt draws a line in the sand and indicates that the Brown regime is a very different animal to the Blair beast.
The summer might be a washout, but it certainly is not a silly season. And Boris Johnson’s three-ring circus is set to get on the road very soon in his bid for London mayor. We look set for a balmy Indian summer flowering with PR gaffes in full bloom.