Six PR stunts you may have missed in 2017

Did you miss one of these PR stunts in 2017?

Given all the constant late-night POTUS tweet storms and the unstoppable #metoo movement, this hasn’t been the easiest year for a company to try to break through the noise and try to get noticed in a big way.

There have, however, been a few incredible exceptions. Obviously, everybody knows about the unorthodox launch of Apple’s iPhone X (including the insane semi-accidental animoje karaoke videos gone viral). State Street’s awesome traffic-stopping Fearless Girl statue was clearly huge, creating returns for the bank worth $7.4m (despite the fact that the brand ended up with egg on its face some months later). And everybody loved Tesla’s surprise launch of the record-breaking Roadster after the grand finale of the Tesla Semi launch.

“The ingredients of a good stunt are that it fits with what is happening in the culture today,” Richard Laermer of RLM PR explained. “It has to fit the times. It can’t be something so obscure that no one will get it. It has to really hit people where they live. And most important, a good stunt is something people will tell others about without rolling their eyes.”

Here are a few other bold PR stunts in 2017 that you might have missed but that drew millions of eyeballs and captured our collective imagination.

The Jumping Robot video (Boston Dynamics)

Who doesn’t love a jumping, backflipping robot that’s gone viral on YouTube? We love Boston Dynamic’s jumping robot, posted on November 16, 2017. It’s already racked up a whopping 12m views. The robot is positioning the ex-Google brand as the go-to B2B brand for delivering humanoids that can walk (and scare the living hell out of you).

What are 12m views on YouTube worth to your investors and to your brand?

The Gyroscopic Transportation of the Future video

Semendov Dahir Kurmanbievich launched the Futuristic Gyroscopic Transportation and captured our imagination on social media for at least 48 hours. This company racked up 5.4m views on YouTube in just a few days to show the futurist’s concept for a transportation vehicle that can pass above traffic.

"The key to standing out is showing what your impact can be in context – whether that context be your competitors, your industry or other relevant companies,” said Nitzan Tamara, vice president, marketing at market intelligence company SimilarWeb. “The lack of context limits your ability to show what your growth and impact really means. If you want to get noticed and make an impact, show the full picture you operate within."

Gusto - “The Cross Country Roadtrip”

While it’s way too easy in Silicon Valley to live in your own Northern California hot tub bubble, you’re never going to connect with the rest of the world unless you get on the road and shake hands with the heartland on a ‘listening tour.’ While other tech CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have made promotional tours or roadshows to middle America, in April Gusto chief executive and co-founder Josh Reeves drove a Winnebago from San Francisco to Jacksonville, stopping at 11 cities along the way (more than 3,000 miles).

The trip received local coverage in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Alabama and increased its web traffic by 30%. The business raised $161.1m in funding, backed by investors including Instagram, Stripe, Yelp, Dropbox, and Eventbrite, and is now valued at over $1bn.

Cancun.com - “Seeking a Cancun Experience Officer”

The company set out to find the right candidate to spread the Cancun love and drive traffic to the newly-relaunched Cancun.com. The company behind the stunt (though they tell me it’s more than just a stunt) is TravelPass Group, a travel technology company based in Lehi, Utah that is part owner of Cancun.com.

The posted chief experience officer, or CEO, position pays $10,000 a month for the candidate to live and experience Cancun for 6-months expense free. The CEO will be expected to create content based on their experiences that will be used on Cancun.com. TravelPass and BestDay launched the job search in early November, resulting in more than 350 articles and over 100 broadcast segments, plus 4,000 applications and counting.

The best part is the job requirements:

  • Sleeping in luxurious beds overlooking the most pristine beaches
  • Scaling 3,000-year-old pyramids followed by a swim with a 40,000-pound whale shark
  • Sipping an ice-cold beverage before teeing off 200 yards down an ocean fairway
  • Mingling with locals and tourists at your VIP table in the hottest clubs
  • Coordinating charitable projects with local organizations to support education, health and well-being
  • Having the most enviable job on the planet

Winners will be announced in January.

Screenshop

Perhaps the best stunt of all is getting one of the biggest brand influencers of all time, Kim Kardashian, to become an early adopter and advisor of your new mobile app. The New York-based app is known as the Shazam for clothing.

“If you don’t have Kim Kardashian’s digits at your fingertips, thanks to the rise of user friendly platforms like FameBit and Tribe, influencer marketing strategy is more easily implementable than ever before,” said Nate Masteron, a marketing expert at Maple Holistics.

Bitcoin (Unnamed)

It wouldn’t be a 2017 tech story unless there was a mention of Bitcoin. Sources tell me there is a Bitcoin stunt in the works as we speak. A crypto-credit-card company is branding a physical token with its logo on it and going down to Wall Street with an army of Task Rabbits to hand them out to Wall Street executives at lunchtime.

According to the PR agency I spoke to, “Wall Street will hate this so much because they have a strong distaste for ICOs.”

The agency will be filming their reaction for a video that is expected to get a huge amount of media pickup. I guess we’ll see, and no, this isn’t part of a PR stunt.

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Aaron Cohen

Aaron Cohen is chief executive of Glitch PR in Portland, Oregon.

All by Aaron