Congratulations to the Hotel Whatsitsname in Munich. Any accommodation so relaxing and re-energising that it sets England up for a 5-1 victory has to be the hottest hot shit in hotshitsville.
This is how the hotel is advertising itself over here – with fantastic, quick-thinking, Seaman-save-style creative athleticism.
In case you ask, my derogatory comments about England’s chances last week were delivered on the “if I say it won’t happen then maybe it will” principle. I received a thank you card, personally signed by Sven, and a cheque from Adam Crozier.
I’ve been building a soapbox this week, so time to get onto it.
Radio 4’s Today programme ran an interview with Geoff Capes during which the icon of the coronary classes put in a plea to save the British takeaway.
But what’s this? Horror! It was a stunt! We might never have known, but the advertising agency that dreamt it up, rushed to tell the world how clever it had been.
Bristling with pride at having got one over on Today, McCann-Erickson flopped its corporate penis onto the table, and asked us to admire its size.
I’m not in the business of arguing whether mine’s bigger than yours (it isn’t anyway, I know that for a fact), but in “it’s what you do with it that matters” terms, we need to sort a few things out.
McCann-Erickson is an advertiser, so the stunt was to advertise something. In the furore, this seems to have been forgotten. Apparently, it was a range of Nestlé snack foods. Why or how Capes’s “campaign” links to the product is not entirely clear.
This emphasises one of the cardinal rules of stunts. They have to be managed in some kind of context. They’ve got to be thought out strategically. Advertisers more than anyone like to talk strategy, core messages, target markets and brand attitude, and the same principle has to be applied to stunts.
Stunts are platforms for product. They’re entertainment (the prime currency of the media). But if the entertainment is irrelevant to the product, then the product can’t climb onto the platform, and the whole exercise is a total waste of time.
Stunts have to encapsulate and communicate something about the product. God forbid that I should say it, but it has to be part of a coherent communications strategy. It’s not just having a laugh.
The whole sorry business is bad news for relationships with the media. McCann-Erickson can’t expect much change out of Today’s editor, Rod Liddle, ever again.
Liddle said Capes’s interview was fatuous and he was absolutely right. And PRs will suffer from the fall-out as well. I could say something pompous like advertisers should leave stunts to the professionals, so I will.
Advertisers should leave stunts to the professionals. PR is becoming as important as advertising these days, but just because something is important, doesn’t mean advertisers can do it.
Or they need to learn a few lessons. Here’s the most basic lesson to take away from the Geoff Capes takeaway story – the best stunts are the ones no one knows about.
PS – not to go on about it, but you can see exactly the same failure in strategic thinking in the case of Virgin’s mass mobile phone ring in Leicester Square.
As Marketing Week’s diary reports, “The Big Ring: the world’s most annoying event, organised by the world’s most annoying man, in the world’s most annoying location, using the world’s most annoying ring tone”. I hope they thought this up in-house, otherwise some agency’s just been sacked.
Stunt meter rating: Nestlé 0, Virgin -4.