Standing in the Wall of Fame

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Campaigns that have caught our eye this month

What do an apology made in sign language, a Tinder account dedicated to a white rhino and a picture of Rolf Harris all have in common?

We’re big believers at Bottle that it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry, in order to stay ahead of the curve. These PR campaigns will, therefore, be the first entries on our newly-founded Campaign Wall of Fame.

There’s no such thing as a secret formula to creating a PR campaign that succeeds in reaching your target audience, communicating your brand message and is all the while entertaining. The infamous Boaty McBoatface, for example, showed us that in today’s media landscape, PR campaigns and stunts won’t always go according to plan, and with seemingly endless channels for audiences to either praise or pick apart a campaign, brands are finding there are more bases to cover than ever before.

As a result, some campaigns are wildly successful, while others are… well, less so. Each month we’ll be debating the best and the worst campaigns the make the headlines in recent weeks, and crowning a winner and loser to make the wall at Bottle HQ.

The first campaign to find itself on the losers’ side of our Wall of Fame is Walker’s disastrous attempt to launch what should have been a quick, easy way of engaging with its social media followers. The brand invited followers to tweet a selfie, which Gary Lineker would then hold up in a short video and declare, “nice selfie!”, before super-imposing it onto the body of a fan in an animated crowd of football supporters.

Sounds like a neat idea, right? Where Walker’s fell short, however, was the seemingly total lack of control that the social media team had over which photos can – and more importantly can’t – be used. Cue the influx of pictures of convicted murderers and sex abusers, which ultimately culminated in a viral shot of Gary Lineker giving his seal of approval to a grinning picture of Rolf Harris.  

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On the other side of the wall, our first lucky winner is an apology made by Hollywood superstar, Chris Pratt.

Frontman of Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt caused controversy by joking that people should turn the volume up on videos posted on Instagram, instead of watching them on mute and “just reading the subtitles.” When he realised that he had inadvertently offended a large group of people who rely on subtitles, due to hearing difficulties, Pratt immediately took to Instagram to post a heartfelt apology – in sign language.

The sincerity that Pratt showed, by breaking away from the stale, scripted apologies that are beginning to feel commonplace in today’s media, and instead incorporating a gesture that will feel very real to those who were affected, has won this moment the first “thumbs up” on our Wall of Fame.  

Coming in at a close second was an inventive move to raise awareness of the decline of the world’s white rhino population, by creating a Tinder profile for Sudan, the last surviving male of the species. Making headlines around the world, his profile reads, “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me.”

This isn’t the first time Tinder has been used as a PR tool. In the build-up EU referendum in 2016, a profile was created for David Cameron to encourage more young people to vote, and celebrities ranging from Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Lang to Olympic Gold medallist, Jade Jones, also had profiles as part of an NHS organ donation campaign.

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However, where David Cameron’s appearance on the dating app was deemed cringe-worthy by its user-base, and the prospect of organ donation may have simply been too heavy for an app intended for casual dating, the sheer charm of Sudan’s awareness-raising campaign has won him fans around the world. 

If our first entries on the Wall of Fame has shown us anything, it’s that there’s more to a successful PR stunt than setting up a hashtag and leaving your followers to do the work. From a logistical point of view, reaching an audience requires due diligence, understanding the channels available to you and the presence of a guiding hand, once the campaign goes live.

To go that extra mile, however, a successful campaign requires sincerity. We’re living in an age where cynicism is rife, and audiences want brands to prove that they understand what is important to their followers, on a personal level. For a strong campaign, invest in getting to know what matters to your audience, how they want to be approached and the experience they expect your brand to deliver.

Stay posted for more from the Wall of Fame.  

BlogTom Hindle