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2012 was a great year for PR stunts. The biggest public relations successes arguably being those tied to the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics, and the predicted Armageddon that thankfully never reared its head. While some people cowered for their lives, smart PR companies seized the opportunity to play it up and capture the public’s attention.

Few PR stunts really stick in people’s minds, primarily due to the large number of competing messages to which consumers are now subjected. It is therefore prudent to take a look at some of the stunts in 2012 that did succeed in making their mark. Many campaigns were duds, but a few of the PR gems are listed below.

Castlemaine XXXX Leases Island

An island near the coast of the continent of Australia was leased by Castlemaine XXXX, a beer company. The public was asked through surveys and personal interviews how this island should be developed. The cost of the island was quite high and the PR campaign could never be considered a frugal one, but the publicity gained seems to have been well worth it. It brought the Castlemaine XXXX brand back into the public consciousness.

Coke Zero and Skyfall

An attempt was made by Coke Zero to increase its customers by organizing a fun competition with the prize being exclusive tickets to the Skyfall movie screening. In a subway station, Coke Zero customers were given the challenge of reaching another platform within 70 seconds – a seemingly simple task – but the path was covered in unexpected obstacles. The participants therefore had to really “unlock the 007 in themselves” to make it to the platform in time. The video was a big hit and went viral, making it a great PR success for Coke Zero.

Muppet-Shaped Cupcakes

PR should be simple, yet effective. This idea was successfully embodied in the PR stunt of sending Stephen Fry Muppet-shaped cupcakes. The company also sent cupcakes shaped like characters from The Muppets to other influential tweeters. A large number of Twitter followers were reached, and the word was spread about The Muppet Movie from this cheap PR stunt.

Sexy Butcher’s Daughter!

PR student Faye Oakley crossed all boundaries of PR when she launched a social media campaign for Rustlers dressed as a sexy butcher’s daughter. This was used to promote microwave burgers, however it ended up promoting both the product as well as the girl herself.

Skoda Lends Car and Free Lunch

In the month of February, Skoda’s press office lent its help to James Baggott, a journalist who tweeted about having no transportation to hand. Skoda immediately sent out reinforcements which included a car and a free lunch. Bribery can get one anywhere, and it is a good example of making a targeted PR campaign work for you.

Designing a Burger for McDonald’s

Crowdsourcing is now immensely popular and has shown its use in the field of PR too – its ability to reach a large number of people efficiently and quickly. Just one click and a person can be introduced to the goodness that is a McDonald’s burger. On the occasion of its 40th anniversary in May 2012, McDonald’s in Germany launched a campaign for people to design a burger of their own creation. The prize-winning burger was made available to the public and sold in the restaurant. The campaign was indeed a huge success, bringing in loads of fresh customers each day even in its aftermath.

Marmite Mines the Queen’s Jubilee

Marmite, a British-based food company, made the best of Queen’s jubilee by selling collectible limited edition “Ma’amite” jars at Sainsbury supermarkets in the month of April, 2012. For those not in the know, Marmite is essentially a dark brown food paste with a powerful salty and sticky flavor. This product was well received by the masses and can be viewed as a commemorative product for the Queen’s Jubilee in Britain.

This is a great example of PR which doesn’t require much expense but captures the public’s interest in a current event. It also bolstered Marmite’s position as a very British product, something they are careful to nurture.

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Locks

The top food PR campaign in 2012 would arguably be the release of combination locks by Ben and Jerry’s that, when fitted on their tubs, prevented an ice-cream theft. The idea itself was quite innovative, and though it was treated more as a joke than an actual product, it succeeded in increasing sales of Ben & Jerry ice cream. The quality of the ice cream was reinforced and the very silly idea of locks to protect one’s ice cream is what made this campaign so popular.


2012 was a year of many twists and turns in PR. May PR campaigns didn’t make a dent, but the best campaigns were extremely successful. The most successful food PR campaigns in 2012 were handled by PR companies like “Wildcard PR” that specialize in food PR. Looking back at previous successes can give you an idea of what will work in the future, but remember it is the most innovative and different PR campaigns that make the grade.

Finally, remember to tailor your campaign to your product branding like the above examples did so expertly, to ensure that your increased exposure not only makes your product more visible, but also bolsters your brand message in the public consciousness.

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License: Image author owned

License: Image author owned

This article was writte by Richard Glover – an independent marketing consultant and social media specialist.