The success of Innocent and Red Bull beverage brands inspired a slew of wannabe drink entrepreneurs ten years ago . Many of the hopefuls wandered through my doors looking for PR. One afternoon, two well healed young men stepped into my office bristling with an array of technicolour bottles, full of herbal fizz. A turbo charged mixture they believed would make them very, very rich. I sat with them interrogating their back story, probing for a hook which I could hang a campaign on. I believe great launch campaigns stem from the interrogation of a simple core truth, which can be expressed clearly to an audience. It’s not uncommon to unearth a story which the prospective client hasn’t realised is the killer app to create brand infamy.
On this particular occasion I struck gold. One of the guys spilled the beans. He was a personal friend of Prince Harry. It took a further twenty minutes to excavate the real treasure, the herbal tonic was adored by the Royal rat pack. However, the client refused to believe there was any value in an endorsement from a party loving Prince, who favoured the elixir as a hangover cure. This dispatched the drink to the ideas junk yard in the sky. It was to be one of many, ultimately crushed by the global drinks clients.
I guess the Las Vegas casino and tourist businesses have the opposite view of the Lad Prince. His party machine focused exceptional attention on Las Vegas this week. It’s now enjoying astonishing and unprecedented Royal endorsement, the kind of patronage money can’t buy. Perhaps another way to view this week’s rumpus is to call it a staggering PR coup – a global publicity campaign for the mischievous joys of sin city. Elvis, Siegfried and Roy, Cirque du Soliel are so yesterday. Overnight in every corner of the globe, young lads and women will be saving their cash to head for the shallow pool parties offered by the casinos to emulate the antics. Without spending a cent, the casino owners will cash in on a massive jackpot; a payout of undreamt fortunes. I can imagine the “Visit Las Vegas” bureau chiefs high fiving one another the length of the strip, reminiscent of the smart casino PR folk of the 1960s who knew a trick or two about spinning the misfortune of celebrities on the lash in Vegas.
So, what lessons can we learn from the soap opera? Two low res grainy camera phone images captured the fun and vitality of the party spirit of Sin City. A simple visual metaphor empowering an enthralling narrative. It possessed the triggers and amplifiers to generate a PR story, making it shareable, and captivating. It was funny, sexy, shocking, spectacular, illuminating, with a touch of schadenfreude. I preach about the Now! Economy, in a world in which nothing is certain, and everything is up for grabs. The Now Economy! is defined by speed, co-ownership, engagement, subjective truths polarity, celebrity and story. Communications in the Now! Economy will come to be defined by terms and tactics conventionally thought of as the domain of PR, because it is only through stories- stories that enrapture and over-ride the sceptical modern mindset- that the public can truly be excited and inspired. Harry’s tale contained all the drivers required to produce a perfect PR storm.
I expect the Prince and his minders to be more aware in the future. Lightening rarely strikes twice. But I suspect he’ll be welcomed with open arms to party in a variety of resorts across the globe. I estimated the value of the publicity generated by the Harry tale to be the region of the same return as the opening of a Hollywood blockbuster. Consider the value to the tax payer if his fun loving troupe was payed a fee to move the three ring circus into a country in need of a boost.
How about Blackpool? If the hoteliers could only build a party venue big enough for the Prince to misbehave, who knows, the fortunes of the seaside town might be rejuvenated overnight.
Sir, don’t fly off to Afghanistan, spread your mirth, laughter and outrageous antics to destinations in need of a PR boost.