We’re only a few weeks into 2019, and already we’ve seen some headline-catching PR campaigns taking the UK (and the world!) by storm. As always, these have been met with equal praise and criticism from the public, causing some hilarious, but also worrying conversations on social media. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the outspoken TV presenter Piers Morgan always seems to be the first to slam a stunt. But as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, so perhaps he has merely done a massive favour for the brands he’s calling out. Let’s review, shall we?
Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll
The Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll – need I say more? Their PR team must be thinking it’s job done for the year after such a stellar start – bonuses all round! They launched their vegan sausage roll to coincide with “Veganuary” which has been rising in popularity since it was launched in 2014, now marking a time of year when the most people will be looking for vegan options. To get this new treat into the national news, they sent out samples to media in what looked like the packaging of a well-known phone brand, so it screamed “open me” right away. It was a somewhat controversial move from Greggs which is most well-known for its meaty pastry-covered goods, and was met by a torrent of angry comments, all keen to bad-mouth the bakery’s newest addition.
Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns. https://t.co/QEiqG9qx2G
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 2, 2019
But despite the backlash, this stunt has been coined a “masterclass in public relations” by PR Week and it’s sure got the industry talking. Whether you love it or hate it, they’ve obviously done something right – we’ve been trying to buy some samples to test out in the office and they’ve been sold out every time! Nice one, Greggs.
Fiji Water Girl at the Golden Globes
She wasn’t exactly subtle… but nonetheless, the Fiji Water Girl is now famous around the world after stealing the limelight at the Golden Globes. The model, now revealed as Kelleth Cuthbert, posed in the background of red-carpet shots at the film and television awards, clutching a tray of refreshing Fiji Water bottles. Somehow, she managed to keep a straight face as she photobombed some of the most famous people in the world, including Nicole Kidman, Dakota Fanning and Idris Elba.
What was perhaps most brazen about this stunt was the way in which Cuthbert posed for the paparazzi. Not only was she standing in the background of all their celebrity shots, but she went one step further by making a point of staring directly into the camera in order to get noticed.
The event, which was perhaps unsurprisingly sponsored by the water brand, was completely overtaken by the stunt, as it stole the headlines internationally. No doubt the Fiji Water PR team will be patting themselves on the back for a job well done.
We’re so glad everyone is talking about our water!
*senses ominous presence*
She’s right behind us, isn’t she? #FIJIwatergirl
— FIJI Water (@FIJIWater) January 7, 2019
Gillette’s “The Best a Man Can Get” Campaign
Okay, so technically this one is more of an advertising campaign, but I still think it’s valid in this discussion as it’s completely divided the nation and had coverage across all the national media outlets. The campaign launched a new take on the company’s traditional 30-year-old strapline “The best a man can get”, which has changed to “The best men can be”. It features news clips highlighting the #MeToo movement, also showing cyber and physical bullying and catcalling.
From a personal perspective, I am 100% behind their campaign and completely understand the creative thought they’ve put into it. It gave me goose bumps to see such a powerful message being portrayed. It was a risky move from the shaving brand and has been met with much criticism, mostly from men, who think they are trying to paint all males with the same brush of toxic masculinity. As a woman watching their video though, I didn’t think that’s what they were aiming for at all. The point of it was to encourage men to call out bad behaviour if they see it, and to treat both men and women with equal respect. Surely that is a positive?
The film has already had more than 11 million views, interestingly attracting 627,000 “dislikes” and 253,000 “likes”. Criticism aside, one thing is for sure – Gillette has made a bold statement, and now needs to back it up.
Just three weeks into 2019 and we’ve already seen some tactical and creative campaigns take the media by storm. I for one am excited to see what other stunts the fabulous PR teams of the UK come up with throughout the year. If anyone can top the Greggs vegan sausage roll, hats off to you!