Unusual PR campaigns are a risk to companies that attempt them. If they are successful, the buzz and positive coverage is wonderful. However, if the campaigns fail, the negative backlash is just as damaging. The following companies have attempted unconventional campaigns with varying degrees of success.
Image via Flickr by theimpulsivebuy
When Healthy Choice was looking to increase their fan base on their Facebook page, they looked to see what interested their target market. Seeing that their market had interest in coupons and used social media, the company decided to put a progressive coupon on their Facebook page. The coupon started out at $0.75 off, but grew as people continued to like the page. Ultimately, the coupon topped out a buy-one-get-one-free deal. During the campaign, the Facebook page for Healthy Choice grew from 6,800 fans to close to 60,000 fans.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
In the 1920s, many of the employees working at Macy's Department Store were first generation immigrants. While they were proud Americans, they missed the parades and celebrations from their European homes. That's why, in 1924, employees put together a parade featuring live animals, floats, and entertainers. The parade was such a big hit that the department store put their name on it and decided it would become an annual event. Today, more than 50 million viewers watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, and over 3.5 million people converge on the city for it.
In 1996, Taco Bell bought advertisements in newspapers around the country announcing that they had purchased the naming rights for the Liberty Bell, and they were changing the name to the Taco Liberty Bell. At first, there was public outcry. However, when the fast food chain announced that it was an April Fool's Day joke, public reaction quickly swung the other way, and many enjoyed the joke.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
In 2007, Cartoon Network wanted to promote their cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. To do so, they placed battery-operated devices in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles. The only problem was that these devices were about the size of a backpack, and covered with wires and lights on the outside. People began to contact the authorities thinking these were national security threats. There was a waste of money and manpower as bomb squads, federal agents, and police responded to the supposed threats. While the marketing stunt may have created buzz for the television show, it also created a serious scare.
Nathan Handwerker had worked at a successful Coney Island restaurant when he decided to go out on his own. When he first opened his eatery, he tried to compete with his former employer by offering lower prices. However, the public was skeptical of the quality. That's when Nathan decided to turn to the medical industry. He asked some homeless people to dress up as doctors, and offered free food to doctors and nurses. Once people started seeing medical professionals enjoying food from Nathan's Famous, they associated his restaurant with good food. Nathan's Famous has been in business since 1916 and sold over 435 million hot dogs last year.
Oprah's Free Cars
Oprah Winfrey is known for her generosity, but in 2004, she landed in some hot water during one of her famous giveaways. That year, she teamed up with General Motors to promote their new Pontiac. 296 cars, costing close to $8 million, were given away to members in her audience that day. Unfortunately, few people even remember that the car was a Pontiac. Plus, a few days later, news broke that those who received the free car would be responsible for paying taxes totaling close to $7,000. This plan missed the mark since they weren't in-touch with their customer base.
Today, advertisements bombard consumers on an almost constant basis. Companies seek out unique campaigns to get people talking about their product. Unfortunately, these campaigns can have the opposite effect if they are not well thought out.