Red Bull recently pulled off one of the greatest PR stunts in recent memory by dropping Felix Baumgartner from space and streaming the event live. This stunt inspired us to do dig up a hundred other historic publicity stunts.
100. What a Train Wreck, 1896
In the 1890’s, William Crush of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad had a crushing idea to publicize his company. He organized a staged crash between two full size trains in Crush, Texas (ironic right?). He let spectators view the crash for free and allowed people to ride the train line for the first time. 40,000 people flocked to the city for this event. However, the safety aspects weren’t well thought out and a few people were killed after the boilers exploded.
99. Racing to Victory, 1903
Back in the early 1900’s there was a newspaper in France called “The Bicycle” which later broke up into “The Car”. In order to gain dominance in the newspaper industry and expand it’s market, The Car organized yet another bicycle race. However, this race was different because it covered 1500 miles. This was the first Tour de France! They got 6 times as many followers after the race and of course the famous race remains today.
98. It Was a Lucky Strike, 1906
Back around WWI, it was not acceptable for women to smoke cigarettes in public. One of the fathers of PR, Edward Bernay, had the idea to get good looking women (but not too model looking) to light up cigarettes in New York’s Easter Sunday Parade. He had the support of the NYC feminists and the ladies in the parade smoking their “Torches of Freedom” also gained a large amount of free publicity for the brand Lucky Strikes.
97. Parading for Attention, 1924
The Macy’s Parade is now a staple American Holiday event, but little do people know about the original intent of the parade. In 1924 the first parade was organized as a publicity stunt to draw attention to the department store. It did not feature giant inflatable floats, but instead was just comprised of Macy’s employees and zoo animals.
96. Goodyear Blimp Offers a Free Ride, 1925
Rubber company Goodyear built a blimp in 1925. To this day they have offered their airship to TV networks to use as a camera platform during sporting and entertainment events. Goodyear only asks that the networks mentions their brand when using the blimp.
95. Message in a Bottle, 1959
In 1959, Guinness hoped to build awareness of their beer by dropping 150,000 bottles in the ocean with a message from King Neptune in each bottle. They hoped the people combing the beaches would find the bottles and spread the word.
94. Peaceful Publcitiy, 1969
John Lennon and Yoko devoted their honeymoon to campaign for world peace. They stayed in bed at two different hotels and invited the media and friends into their room. At their second hotel in Montreal, they recoded ‘Give Peace a Chance’ where various people in the room joined in on the chorus. This song became the anthem for those protesting the Vietnam war.
93. Human Chain for Charity, 1986
In 1986 more than 7 million people across 16 states joined to make a human chain in order to raise money for the hungry and homeless. To participate, everyone had to pay $10 for their spot in line. President Reagan even joined in!
92. Floating Away, 1990
Jim McCafferty, a magician, struggled to get his marketing company off the ground so he went about a shocking straight jacket stunt that was right out of the movies. Almost killing McCafferty, the risky stunt helped turn his firm into a multi-million dollar business.
91. Super Marketing, 1993
D.C. Comics, the company that puts out the Superman series, announced that they were putting out a comic called “The Death of Superman”. Millions rushed to purchase this comic because it was hard to believe that the beloved superhero that has been with us for nearly a century was going away for good. After plenty of media coverage, the soon released numerous comics after- including “The Return of Superman”. By revamping and adding a little variation to their product, they were able to nix their stagnant sales record.
90. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, 1993
In 1993, Prince announced that he would be changing his name. He changed it to a symbol that was unpronounceable.
89. Tacos and Liberty for All, 1996
Taco Bell took out an ad in The New York Times that read “Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell”. The ad went on to say that they are renaming the historic landmark to “Taco Liberty Bell”. Thousands of people called in to complain and by noon Taco Bell admitted that it was, indeed an April fools joke. The stunt was covered by over a thousand media outlets and generated a million dollars in additional sales over the next two days.
88. A Pink Street Leads Straight to Barbie, 1997
Mattel decorated a whole street in bubblegum pink during their ‘pink month’ in order to boost sales of the Barbie doll. They estimate that they reached 100 million people with the media coverage they received.
87. Whopping Publicity, 1998
Burger King proposed that they had altered their most well known sandwich. They claimed they changed the Whopper to better fit the needs of left handed people by fitting more comfortabbly in the left hand and shifting the insides for better weight redistribution. The Left-Handed Whopper was just an April Fool’s joke, however they still got 32 million Americans to come into the store that day!
86. When the Cannon Backfires, 1998
Richard Branson launched a new brand of cola, Virgin Cola, by driving a tank down Fifth Avenue in NYC. He then proceeded to shoot the tank’s cannon at the Coca-Cola sign. In the end, it was Virgin Cola that tanked.
85. Half Gets Whole Publicity, 1999
Half.com is the name of a retail website with really good discounts. Halfway is a small town in Oregon. What do these two things have in common? Half.com paid Halfway $100,000 along with other financial subsidiaries if the town would adopt the name Half.com for a year. The town did it, the company became really well known and shortly after eBay bought the company for $300 million.
84. Calendar Goods, 1999
Eleven members of the Women’s Institute in the UK posed nude for a calendar to raise money for charity. These nude models used baked goods and flower arrangements to cover up. they sold almost a million copies, raised a lot of funds for leukemia research and even inspired a movie out of the whole ordeal.
83. FHM Flashes Parliament, 1999
FHM magazine projected a 100 ft naked picture of Gail Porter on the Houses of Parliament in 1999.
82. Blair Witch Project Pretends to Be Real, 1999
To create buzz for the horror flick The Blair Witch Project, the film makers gave out tapes to college campuses and presented them as real video diary footage. The Independent Film Channel also played clips that were labeled as documentary instead of fictional. This viral PR stunt created plenty of buzz for the film.
81. Mystery Marriage On Air, 1999
In New Zealand two radio contestants that had never met before married live on air. The marriage only lasted 3 months, but this stunt was quickly made famous. The bride went on to marry the competition host.
80. Frozen In Time, 2000
Illusionist David Blaine remained encased and frozen in a large chunk of ice in Times Square for over 60 hours. Thousands came out to witness his ‘Frozen in Time’ stunt. He made it out alive, but was immediately rushed to the hospital because doctors were worried he would go into shock. Blaine admitted he would never attempt a stunt of this caliber again.
79. BA Can’t Get It Up, 2000
British Airways sponsored the London Eye (the ferris wheel) and had an issue getting the wheel up when it was just lying on the ground. After several attempts while the press was watching, they had an airplane fly over with a banner saying “BA can’t get it up”. Many laughs were had that day.
78. Subservient Chicken, 2001
Burger King launched a humorous website, subservientchicken.com, and only told a few people about it. The website features someone in a chicken suit who will act out nearly any command you tell it to do. People spend an average of 6 minutes playing on this site.Thanks to word of mouth, the site was received over 20 million hits. Funny stuff, BK.
77. Taco Bell Takes a Bet on the Space Station, 2001
When the Mir Space Station was on it’s decent back to Earth, people were concerned that part of the station would fall of and land in the South Pacific. Taco Bell announced that if a piece of the station detached and hit their 40’x40′ floating raft placed in the Pacific they would give everyone in the United States a free taco. They gained a lot of media attention from millions of hungry Americans hoping to score a free taco.
76. Batman to the Rescue, 2003
The Father 4 Justice group campaigns in the UK about reforming family law especially when it comes to divorce. One person from the campaign group dressed up as Batman and stood on the Balcony of Buckingham Palace for 5 hours with his banner.
75. Holy Rollers, 2004
GoldenPalace.com is an online casino, which means they are legally not allowed to place advertisements in traditional media. For $28,000 they purchased a half eaten grilled cheese sandwich that had an image of the Virgin Mary burned into the bread. After all the publicity they got for their purchase, they took it on a tour all over the world and even held a competitive grilled cheese eating contest in Venice Beach. Of course, they sell t-shirts too. What a way to legally get your name out there!
74. Everybody Gets a Car, But Nobody Knows What Kind it is, 2004
Remember that episode of Oprah where EVERYBODY GETS A CAR? Despite the audience and Oprah herself jumping up and down frantically, the company that donated the car surely was not. GM donated numerous Pontiac G6s to the show, hoping this stunt would get their name out there and revive sales for this stagnant brand. However, Oprah never mentioned the word Pontiac during the frenzy and when watching the show you would never be able to tell the car was a Pontiac. Talk about an anonymous publicity stunt.
73. Channel Crossing, 2004
In 2004, Branson earned a spot in the Guinness Book of Records by crossing over the English Channel (in an amphibious vehicle) in a record 40 minutes! The cast of the TV show Top Gear attempted to beat this record…but couldn’t.
72. Tiger Woods Has the World’s Tallest Tee-shot, 2004
Tiger Woods was paid $1 million by the Dubai Desert Golf Classic to participate in their event. To promote the tournament, Tiger practiced his tee-shot from the helipad of the world’s tallest hotel.
71. Betting to Save the Albatross, 2004
Bookmaker Ladbrokes proposed an opportunity to bet on 17 Albatrosses during their migration across the Southern Ocean. The birds were electronically tagged and all proceeds were given to the ‘Save the Albatross’ campaign. Updates on the birds’ locations were given on Ladbroke’s website.
70. One Bad Call Leads to Free Eye Tests, 2004
After a controversial call by a Swiss referee that ended up terminating Englad’s participation in a tournament, British supermarket chain Asda offered free eye tests to Swiss citizens.
69. Extreme Scrabble, 2004
Scrabble celebrated their 60th anniversary by having sky divers jump out of a plane to play the game. The company compiled shots of this and other instances of extreme scrabble play.
68. Cold Treats Aren’t Good on Warm Days, 2005
Snapple tried to make the world’s largest popsicle in June 2005. They did this in Union Square, but the weather that day was warmer than they anticipated. Their 17.5 ton popsicle melted and left behind a strawverry kiwi slushy river.
67. Jimmy White Goes Brown, 2005
Pool player Jimmy White momentarily changed his name to Jimmy Brown when he landed a sponsorship deal with HP brown sauce. He even wore a brown outfit instead of his typical black tuxedo during a tournament.
66. Ex-Presidents in Visors, 2006
ProShade makes a 3-in-1 device that is a visor, sunglasses and a lanyard all in one. The company offered the National Park Service $4 to preserve Mount Rushmore in exchange for being able to put a visor with their logo on each of the president’s heads. While the offer was tempting to the National Park Service due to lack of funding they receive, no deal was worked out in the end. However, ProShade still got plenty of publicity for this ridiculous offer!
65. Mission:Impossible Bomb Scare, 2006
Red wired boxes that played the Mission:Impossible theme song were installed on newspaper racks in L.A. to promote the 3rd movie. Some fell from the top of the stands and landed on a stack of papers, causing some people to view the red wired boxes as a bomb scare and call the police. The police even blew one up to ensure it was not a threat!
64. World Record Made to Promote a New Movie, 2006
Mike Metzger, a stuntrider, because the first person to backflip over the famous fountains of Caesar’s Palace. This new world record was done to promote the movie Mission Impossible III.
63. Anything is Possible, 2006
Harrods, a luxury department store, gift wrapped a helicopter and presented it to a customer to take his partner on an unforgettable trip. This stunt that used over 600 meters of paper promoted the launch of the ‘Anything is Possible’ season.
62. Flying by the Seat of His Pants, 2007
The infamous Richard Branson wanted to promote his new Virgin America domestic airline by bungee jumping. He climbed the Las Vegas Palms hotel in a tuxedo, while throwing some plane tickets to the crowd. A gust of wind hit him though, and he scraped his backside on the side of the building, ripping his pants. He flew by the seat of his pants, but still was able to gain some notice about flying on his airline.
61. A Bombing Success, 2007
Adult Swim installed boards in high traffic areas in 10 cities. These small circuit boards that depeicted a character from Aqua teen Hunger Force. These boards would light up at specific times to reveal a character. A citizen noticed one of the boards and was worried that it may be a bomb. In the end though, it was the Boston bomb squad who received more bad publicity than the network did, because the ads did not come off suspicious to the common person!
60. Treasure Hunt in the Graveyard, 2007
Dr. Pepper arranged a scavenger hunt in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground where participants would be looking for a coin. The day the clue was supposed to be released, the cemetery was closed due to heavy ice. That day, the cemetery officials, heard about the hunt and rushed to find the coin before the participants would have the opportunity to ravage the historic burying ground. They found the coin near the entrance of a 200 year old crypt and Dr. Pepper apologized for the inconvenience.
59. Giant Simpsons Art, 2007
In 2007 Fox created a 70 m x 50 m chalk drawing of Homer Simpson in his underwear on a hillside. This drawing mirrored the old famous drawing of The Giant Of Cerne Abbas. Fox did this to draw attention to the release of The Simpsons Movie.
58. New Logo Lands in Area 51, 2007
KFC built the world’s largest logo near Nevada’s Area 51. They then shot it with the Google Earth satellite, resulting in over 600 million views. They did this to show off their new logo.
57. A Whopping Freak Out, 2007
Burger King took their staple item off the menu for one day- The Whopper. People freaked out and of course they got it all on camera!
56. Big Brother, 2007
Iraqi native Wafaa Bilal lived in a small room in the back of a Chicago gallery and streamed his life on the web 24/7. Viewers also had control of a paintball gun that can shoot Bilal at any time and have the option of video chatting him. This stunt was used to raise questions on obsession with guns and the American-Iraqi conflict.
55. A Dark Hour, 2007
In order to raise awareness of global warming, Millions of people turned off their lights for Earth Hour. The event aimed to save massive amounts of power and many famous landmarks even joined in on the darkness.
54. High Rollers, 2007
Gambling website gnuf.com held the world’s largest dice roll. They dropped two huge dice weighing half a ton from the air onto a mountainside in Greenland. People could view the roll online and bet on the outcome which would be revealed the next week.
53. Fighting for Cash in Indonesia, 2008
Indonesian author Tung Desem Waringin threw about $10,000 out from a plane onto the streets of Indonesia. Since Indonesia’s per capita income is about $2,200, this large sum of money caused choas in the streets as people were fighting to gather up the cash.
52. A Modern Day Nativity Story, 2008
In December of 2007, Travelodge gave all married couples who could prove with a marriage license that their names were Mary and Joseph a free nights stay in their hotel between Christmas eve and January 5th. They did this in honor of the Nativity story, but of course offered a much more comfortable room than a manger.
51. BBC Has Flying Penguins, 2008
The BBC released amazing footage of flying penguins that were supposedly going to be featured on their new series. The next day though, they admitted the footage was part of an April Fools stunt in order to promote their new online catch-up service.
50. Nude Models Promote Animal Rights, 2008
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had a campaign with the message of ‘Be comfortable in your own skin. Let animals keep theirs’. The had many models, including celebrities pose nude and then placed these photographs on billboards. The point was to show that these people would rather go naked than wear fur!
49. Hot Girls, Hot Dogs, 2008
At the Capitol Hill Cookout, PETA had Playboy models wear lettuce bikinis and pass out veg dogs for National Veggie Dog Day.
48. Flash Mob Fame, 2008
The improv group “Improv Everywhere” mastered a flashmob in Grand Central Terminal. Their flash mob earned over 28 million views on YouTube and inspired many others to follow suit.
47. Panda Awareness, 2008
To show the world how many pandas are alive in the world and to draw attention to environmental issues in China, the WWF placed 1,600 papier mache panda bears in front of the Eiffel Tower.
46. Switching From Squares to Diamonds Brings Success, 2008
Shreddies, a cereal that is nearly 70 years old, got consumers thinking about their product again after merely turning the shape of their cereal 45 degrees. This acute shift created the new and improved “Diamond Shreddies” and as a result tons of positive feedback poured in. People felt that the diamonds tasted better than the squares.
45. Identity Theft in an Identity Theft Protection Company, 2008
LifeLock is a personal identity theft protection company and they engaged in a risky stunt to prove that their services help precent identity fraud. The CEO of the company posted his personal social security number on the side of a van and invited people to try stealing his identity. About 25 people set out to cause harm with his SSN, however only one person succeeded in getting a $500 loan. LifeLock still kept their good reputation in identity protection because apparently only one successful theft for a nationwide ad is pretty impressive.
44. The Faceless, 2008
Lotus cars wanted to make it clear that you are nobody until you own a Lotus. They placed faceless people (people wearing black suits with prosthetic skin over their face) at popular events in the UK to go along with their marketing slogan of ‘True character in a faceless world’.
43. Burger King Goes Fancy, 2008
Burger King launched their most expensive burger yet- it went for 85 pounds in select UK locations. The burger was made from select Wagyu beef and was served with foie gras and blue cheese with a side of black truffles. Of course they still offered their typical soft drinks and fries too.
42. Sex and the City and the Artist, 2008
Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall posed semi-nude to help artist Tom Hunter raise money for saving his famous painting ‘Diana and Actaeon’. The artist did not want his painting to hit the open market so the two teamed up to prevent it from being removed from its public display.
41. Life Changing Billboard, 2008
A student glued himself to a billboard in London in order to promote a book. The book, ‘This Diary Will Change Your Life’ agreed to help the student pay for college if he participated in this daring PR stunt.
40. Tennis Pros on a Desert Island, 2008
Tennis Stars Ana Ivanovic and Elena Dementieva played an exclusive match on a desert island in order to promote the Sony Ericsson Tennis Championships. The only other people on the island were the ballbyos.
39. Nothing To Wine About at this Spa, 2008
To Celebrate the opening of a new spa resort in Tokyo, the spa filled a pool with wine and allowed their guests to splash around in it. There was a pool of green tea for the younger guests.
38. The Most Expensive Bra Yet, 2008
Victoria’s Secret unveiled their 5 million dollar ‘Black Diamond Fantasy Miracle Bra’ at their 2008 show in Miami.
37. Meaty Cologne, 2008
Burger King came out with a meat-scented cologne for men. It was marketed as ‘the scent of seduction’ and could be purchased for just $3.99.
36. The Italian Job, 2009
The Royal Society of Chemistry organized a competition to see if anyone could solve the notorious cliffhanger problem from the movie The Italian Job. The society received over 2,000 entries and media attention and the winner won a holiday in the city where the film was made.
35. Kissing Vegetarians, 2009
PETA wanted to show that vegetarians make better lovers. So, they organized a makeout tour.
34. Pam Anderson Banned, 2009
PETA strikes publicity gold again when Montreal Banned an ad of skimpily dressed Pam Anderson because they felt it was sexist.
33. Complaining Customer Turned Employee, 2009
A customer complained to Branson of Virgin Airlines about how terrible his in flight food was. After the letter went viral on the internet, Branson offered the man a job food testing for the airline.
32. Grasshopper Treats, 2009
The people at the company Grasshopper shipped 25,000 chocolate covered grasshoppers via FedEx to the most influential Americans.
31. Dissing for Publicity, 2009
Music Video model Tahiry broke up with rapper Joe Budden and immediately posed with rapper 50 Cent after. It appeared that they were dating and this hurt Budden, so he released a freestyle dissing the two. His bashing got him plenty of publicity for the track.
30. Best Job in the World, 2009
The Queensland Tourism board posted a classified ad for the ‘best job in the world’. They seeked out an island caretaker who would be willing to spend 6 months exploring Queensland all the while staying rent free in an island villa. They received applications from all over the world and estimate the publicity has been worth over $110 million.
29. The Real Slim Shady Meets Bruno, 2009
For a prank at the MTV Movie Awards, actor Sacha Baron Cohen dressed up as his raunchy Bruno character and landed crotch-first into rapper Eminem’s face. Eminem acted angry, but insiders claim this was a prearranged prank.
28. Walking On Water, 2010
European pranksters made a video where they appeared to be running on water. They coined the term “Liquid Mountaineering” to describe them walking on water and this video went viral. News teams reported on this amazing video and in the end it appeared to be a viral ad for Hi-Tec.
27. Zombies Take Over NYC, 2010
To promote its television series “The Walking Dead”, AMC had two dozen people dressed as zombies walking around Madison Square Garden and on the Brooklyn Bridge. It certainly caused amusement and horror around New York as people were not expecting to see the living dead among them!
26. Temple Kitchen Wants Patrons to Get Steamy in the Bathroom, 2010
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Toronto announced that it would allow patrons to engage in sexual activity in their bathrooms on Valentine’s Day. They suggested that their modern bathroom was one of the ‘101 places to have sex before you die’. The media loved this steamy idea.
25. Bubble Wrap Creates Safe Driving Conditions, 2010
Car insurance comparison site, confused.com, created a stunt where they bubble wrapped Britain’s most accident prone street. They used 1,500 sq meters of bubble wrap to raise awareness on the dangers of winter driving.
24. The Fituation – Abercrombie & Fitch and “The Situation”, 2011
Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay Mike “The Situation” Sorrention from Jersey shore not to wear any Abercrombie & Fitch clothing. They released a press release saying “Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image”. The store began selling graphic tees that said “The Fituation”.
23. The Situation Hits Back, 2011
“The Situation” pulled a PR counter-stunt from Abercrombie’s publicity stunt. He sued them for trademark infringement, false description and unfair competition.
22. Mark Zuckerberg Name Switcheroo, 2011
Entrepreneur Rotem Guez, legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg after he received cease-and-desist letters from Facebook because he was selling “likes” to advertisers that paid his company money. Facebook sued Guez again after the name change.
21. Enrico Frare Loses His Shirt , 2011
Italian clothing business owner Enrico Frare took out a full page ad in an Itailian newspaper posing nude next to the caption “Every day in Italy an entrepreneur risks losing his shirt”. He drew attention to the difficulty of Italian businesses to get loans. Of course he got a little attention for his company too.
20. Dex Moelker, Keeping Friends at Arms Length , 2011
Dex Moelker, a tattoo artist from Rotterdam tattooed one of his clients with profile pictures of 152 Facebook friends. The photo caught on and was featured on CNN and Fox News. A day latter Moelker admitted that the tattoo was a fake that washes off.
19. Andrew Mason Gets Bloomberg to Pony Up , 2011
Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City visited Groupon’s Chicago headquarters. When he arrived, he was surprised to learn that Andrew Mason, the CEO of Groupon presented the Mayor with a pony as a gift. ‘I mean, it’s such a heavy thing to gift someone,'” Mason said. “I thought it would be funny to give it to somebody as busy as the mayor.”
18. Sonic Fall, 2011
To launch it’s Sonic sedan, Chevrolet tossed the car out of an airplane and put the video on YouTube. The video received millions of views.
17. A Fake Hold Up that Still Ended Badly, 2011
Two guys wearing masks, dark clothes and holding small metallic items ran through Dell’s headquarters and yelled at employees to meet in the lobby. This was just an inter-company stunt to announce to employees about a new tablet, but somehow the masked men were arrested in the end.
16. Morton’s Delivers, 2011
Peter Shankman, author and entrepreneur, tweeted that he would like to be met at the airport with a Morton’s steak when his flight landed. Morton’s saw the tweet sent a uniformed waiter with a steak, side dishes and silverware to meet Shankman at the airport! The stunt was covered by various news organizations and Morton’s was commended for their superb customer service.
15. Internet Explorer Research Hoax, 2011
A story came out that claimed users of Internet Explorer had a lower IQ than those who did not use the browser. This story obviously turned out to be a hoax and after various media outlets reported on the research, it was found to be put out by the firm ApTiquant.
14. Up in Smoke – Herman Cain’s US Presidential Campaign, 2012
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s campaign posted a video that showed Cain’s chief aide, Mark Block, inexplicably smoking a cigarette while talking into the camera. Smoking in a video is a bit odd for a presidential campaign and the video inspired parody videos and generated a million views in its first week.
13. Pretending to Get Publicity, 2012
Instead of trying to get press to solely benefit himself, Ryan Holiday tried to get press for any reason at all, as a joke. He used Help a Reporter Out to seek out queries by reporters needing people for stories. He made up tons of things and in the end was featured in multiple stories. For example, he posed as the poster child for “Generation Yikes” on Reuters. On MSNBC he pretended that while working at Burger King someone sneezed on him and did other stunts like this on various other news sources and ultimately got his name out there.
12. Going Coconuts, 2012
A man from the tropical islands of Tonga claimed that have the name Bruno Banani and that he was the son of a coconut farmer. Since he shared a name with a German underwear company, the company sponsored him. His catchphrase was “coconut powered” and he was incited to train with the world champion German luge team. Of course it later surfaces that that is not his real name and his father was not a coconut father. At least he still got to train with the Germans.
11. Hardcore Pawn, 2012
Pawngo, an online Pawnshop based in Denver dumped hundreds of Butterfingers in Boston. These candy bars contained a note that read “Thank you Wes Welker”. Welker dropped a 4th quarter pass in the Superbowl, but apparently the Boston sports fans did not like being mocked like that, even though the original intentions of the pawnshop were to be cute. The fans were outraged and voiced their anger on various social media outlets.
10. A Beautiful Stunt, 2012
Dove decided to ‘spread to love’ with a campaign that targeted London commuters. Dove encouraged commuters to tweet and text answers to various questions they posed on an interactive screen located in London’s busy Victoria station. The questions included “what makes you feel beautiful” and streamed the answers real time on the screen. Not only did they engage the commuters in conversation, they also put smiles on people’s faces by giving them presents to give to their valentines.
9. Tropicana’s Bright Idea, 2012
Tropicana installed a large sun over Trafalgar Square on a dreary January morning in London. They handed out over 35,000 orange juice cartons that day too and allowed the commuters and tourists to sit and watch the sunrise with branded sunglasses and blankets. What a bright way to gain publicity.
8. Ben and Jerry Lock in the Flavor, 2012
Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is so good that some die hard fans feel their pints should be padlocked. The company started selling a ‘Euphori-Lock’ that states “I’m terribly sorry but there is no u in my pint”. While this stunt may not have increased sales for the company, it surely reaffirmed the desirability of their product.
7. Vandalize These Billboards, Please, 2012
To promote Tucker Max’s book, Ryan Holiday bought billboards in LA, NYC and Chicago with the aim of having people vandalizing these billboards. They put profane stickers on these billboards and then gave anonymous tips to bloggers about what happened. Bloggers ran the story and then a group of feminists in NYC vandalized the profane billboards. The Village Voice covered this effort and then a nationwide movement was started to vandalize those billboards.
6. Offensive Tweets, 2012
To promote a book, Tucker Max paid celebrities to tweet really offensive things. Most Tweets got rejected, but the few that went through got the book some coverage. Forbes and a few blogs picked up on it and it was seen about 500,000 times.
5. Photoshopped, 2012
Tucker Max photoshopped screenshots of controversial ads on conservative websites, like glennbeck.com. Most of the ads never actually ran and the stunt didn’t grab as much attention as hoped.
4. Free Wi-Fi comes at a High Cost, 2012
BBH Labs, organized a publicity stunt during Austin’s South By Southwest music festival where homeless people were paid (low wages) to cary around Wi-Fi signals. The homeless wore shirts that said “I am a 4G Hotspot”. The firm was criticized for exploiting Austin’s homeless.
3. An Exciting Pothole App, 2012
TAXI, a multi-disciplinary Toronto studio launched an app called Pothole Season that allowed Canadians to report potholes. They stuck an actual car in a pothole in downtown Montreal to promote the app.
2. Truth in Advertising, 2012
Richard Neill had no idea his Facebook post criticizing Bodyfrom’s misleading advertising of happy periods would get so much attention. He got 100,000 Facebook likes and a well-done response video called “The Truth” from Bodyform.
1. The Great Jump, 2012
Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the sound barrier without the help of a machine by falling 23 miles from the earth’s stratosphere. The event was sponsored by Red Bull. The jump earned the world’s attention and accounted for one percent of all online conversations at the time.
UPDATE: We recently stumbled across a blog post about 9 great viral marketing pranks that we thought you might be interested in. You can read it here courtesy of our friends Epic Presence (a Chicago content marketing agency).