How to avoid Idea Porn
Never before have so many believed in the power of PR.
The Holmes Report now estimates the PR industry is a $12.5 billion sector that employs 80,000 people worldwide. In the UK there are 55,000 PR professionals– up nearly 50 per cent in two years. There are meanwhile 64,000 jounralists. It’s only a matter of time before flacks definitively outnumber hacks.
Are you choosing your agencies wisely? Are we actually doing anything more than contributing to the wall of noise?
We are guilty of promising the earth but failing to get under the skin of the client’s brand image. We need ideas that disrupt, provoke and stimulate.
= stunts or campaigns that are interventions for the sake of being interventions, objected floating down the Thames for the sake of itself (and the fact that everyone else is doing it). They are not ideas that begin with the brand story and how it connects with its audience.
As the 1,969 PR entries on display at this year’s Cannes Lions showed too many ‘creative interventions’ exist only to mark-up fees. A Tinder for pets by an animal rescue charity? Don’t ask, just swipe. An alarm clock infused with bacon-scent delivery? Passed on as quickly as it’s forgotten. Wifi blocking pepper grinder from Dolmio- just in time to save the modern family.
So we invented a method for distinguishing the effective rabble-rouser from the gratuitous #ditchbait®.
Introducing our stunt formula:
We passed some of the July silly season noise through the filter.
This cheeky taboo-trouncer from Paddy’s infamous mischief unit called on Dover-bound refugees to hop on-board –but only if you’re good at sport. Let’s leave aside the fact that the central image of Andy Murray as one such gifted immigrant doesn’t actually make sense.
Popping up on social media, it aroused ire and delight in equal measure, then made the papers and rippled the twitter waters for a short while thereafter. Should it make the Advertising Standards’ complaint book, they’ll get some extra story mileage. Judging by column inches the immigrant lorry was another success for Paddy. But is it sustainable? There is now a weight of expectation creating mischievous campaigns that are predictable, both in humour and outcome. This doesn’t take Paddy anywhere new.
Naked Coffee Shop
To promote its ‘all natural’ coffee-mate creamer, Nestle set up The Natural Bliss Café staffed by all natural baristas- right down to the organic paint used to simulate aprons.
Ant-sized Ant Man tickets (IMAX)
100 ant-sized IMAX tickets were hidden around three UK cities — London, Manchester and Birmingham, giving finders free entry to see the new movie. Ant Man topped the UK box office, seeing off competition from the new Terminator film.
What should you do?
Dare to be different. Rather than aping platform-focused influence buying services PR needs to prove its worth through differentiating itself.
PR needs to spend time understanding the product and, if necessary, challenge the client.
Look beyond the brief and build on brand legacy.
Unlock the story- our greatest challenge is finding the stories that will cut through the ever increasing noise.
It is also about candour. In the 24 minute news cycle even the biggest intervention will be forgotten in 12 hours. You can’t afford to float a giant figure down the Thames every week.
PR should ensure a steady line of engagement to keep the client relevant.