The Power Of Creative Stunts & Shareable Stories

The Power Of Creative Stunts & Shareable Stories
SHARE
THIS


What best describes you?

In this guest post, Men at Work Communications’ Adam Mumford (pictured below) takes a closer look at some of his favourite creative stunts, with one dating back all the way to the 1920s.

Adam Mumford

Is there anything more thrilling than a big, bold stunt? The best leave a lasting impression that’s equal parts exhilaration and relief, which captures the imagination of the public and gains serious media attention.

Of course, in today’s world of digital targeting and optimisation, are they still relevant? They obviously need to be on-brand, but the right idea can garner serious reach and engagement. And a good idea creates talkability, virality and positive association with the brand.

You need only watch some YouTube footage of The General to realise the staying power of a fantastic stunt. Shot in the 1920s, Buster Keaton’s breathtaking work on a moving train – the cameraman having been told to “keep shooting until Buster yelled ‘cut’, or was killed” – is still regarded as one of the finest performances of all time, and helped get the film selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Basically, with the right idea, you can get an insane amount of reach for a relatively low cost. Sure, The General was regarded as an expensive film in its day, but almost a century later, the $750,000 or so it cost to make an undisputed masterpiece would be regarded as an absolute bargain – even after inflation was applied.

What’s more, you don’t need to put anyone’s life at risk to create a great creative activation that generates cut-through (although the threat of death certainly does aid in reach – but we’ll come to that).

Below, I’ve outlined a few of my favourite creative stunts that show just how big an audience you can get for relatively little spend, when you have the right idea and a team just nuts enough to pull it off.

Message in a bottle (1959)

In May this year, Nova Scotia resident Sarah Naugle and her two children found a message in a bottle washed up on their local beach.

“I noticed the top of a bottle sticking out of the seaweed, so I picked it up,” Naugle told CTV Atlantic.

“I noticed it was a full bottle, and there was a message inside. I couldn’t believe it!”

She was in for a much bigger shock: that message had been written almost 60 years earlier, having been lodged in the ocean by Guinness – yeah, the beer company.

In 1959, Guinness decided to try out a novel way to build awareness of their product by dropping 150,000 bottles in the ocean, with a message in each bottle – some reporting to be from King Neptune! The hope was that people combing the beaches would find the bottles and spread the word.

The word-of-mouth advertising may have been effective in the ’50s, but with bottles still washing up and making the news 60 years later, the campaign is still paying dividends decades later.

You’re probably not going to get away with this stunt today, but a good idea is a good idea. Simple. Easy to describe in half a sentence. A good story in any language.

The Blair Witch Project pretends to be real (1999)

For anyone too young to have seen The Blair Witch Project in the cinemas, you might be a bit baffled about what the big deal was with this flick.

It’s a bit like the old story of the student who complains that Shakespeare’s work is full of cliches, unaware that “The Bard” actually created them.

Blair Witch helped popularise the ‘found footage’ horror film – did it on the smell of an oily rag with a case of nobodies, and perhaps most importantly, was also one of the first films to use the internet to do the majority of its marketing.

To create buzz, the filmmakers gave out tapes to college campuses and presented them as real video diary footage, the Independent Film Channel played clips that were labelled as documentary instead of fictional, and a website was set up that outlined the events surrounding the film as true.

This PR stunt created plenty of groundswell for the film, with USA Today writing in 2014: “Though it arrived five years before Facebook and seven before Twitter, Blair Witch became Hollywood’s first film with viral heat.”

As for the payoff? The movie was shot on a shoestring $60,000 budget and ended up grossing around a quarter of a billion, making it one of the most successful indie films of all time.

Red Bull Stratos (2012)

Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner showed just what is possible when someone is willing to go to the very limit – of our planet’s atmosphere, that is.

For those who were living under a rock, Red Bull Stratos saw professional skydiver Baumgartner ride a hot air balloon to an altitude of 39,045 metres, then jump out.

As he plummeted towards the Earth’s surface for almost four and a half minutes, the Austrian reached a maximum of speed of 1,357.6 km/h to break numerous records – including becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without any form of vehicle – before safely pulling his chute to ensure nothing else broke.

Alright, so that’s not exactly the kind of thing you’re going to be able to achieve with a budget of a few thousand bucks, but sponsors Red Bull got a huge return on investment, with research firm IRI reporting the energy drink company increased sales 7 per cent to $1.6 billion in the USA alone over the following six months.

Arguably more importantly is the attitude it set for the general public regarding the company.

As one Twitter user put it: “So, if I buy Coke, they spend my money advertising Coke. But if I buy Red Bull, they launch people to edge of space and let them jump? Sold.”

Lucy the Robot (2015)

It would be remiss of me not to mention an Aussie campaign in this piece, and has there been a better local stunt than Lucy the Robot in late 2015? Obviously, I’m biased – my agency Men At Work Communications developed this campaign with media agency Atomic 212°, but there is no better example of huge amounts of talkability being generated in a short amount of time.

Looking to get coverage for the Double Robotics telepresence robot, we sent the device to Sydney’s Apple Store for the launch of the iPhone 6s. This was an event that already had major buzz, and we created a story to push it a little further.

Piloted by the eponymous Lucy, the robot became the first robot to ever buy Apple’s latest flagship phone.

Perhaps more importantly than making robotic history, the stunt gained global attention, with the story being covered in literally thousands of stories around the world, translated into dozens of languages, and reaching tens of millions people in total.

And it’s staying power has been none too shabby either, with Warc naming the campaign as the third most effective for 2017 in April this year.

If you create the right story and have a compelling idea, a creative stunt can generate some awesome interest in your client’s brand. The problem is that you can’t fake a good story.

Of course, you need to combine such a stunt with a range of other strategies from a customer acquisition point-of-view, but purely in terms of reach, engagement and branding, there’s something very powerful about creating a shareable story.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Does Your Christmas Marketing Suck?
  • Opinion

Does Your Christmas Marketing Suck?

It's the most wonderful time of the year for the worst kind of marketing. Is your brand guilty of producing crappy Christmas conte

Opinion

by Peter Harris

Peter Harris
Study: Aussie Retailers Set To “Struggle” Over “Stagnate” Christmas
  • Marketing

Study: Aussie Retailers Set To “Struggle” Over “Stagnate” Christmas

According to IBISWorld, Christmas retail spending in Australia is expected to stagnate this December, falling by 0.2 per cent compared to the same time last year. While not all categories are impacted, IBISWorld is attributing the overall decline to lower discretionary incomes, negative consumer sentiment, and price discounting across the retail sector. “Overall, IBISWorld has observed early […]

Industry Diversity: It’s More Than Skin Deep
  • Opinion

Industry Diversity: It’s More Than Skin Deep

In his final column for the year, B&T’s favourite industry maverick and troublemaker, Robert Strohfeldt, turns his opinion pen to adland’s topic du jour – diversity. And, he says, it’s as much about the thinking as it is who you employ at your agency… There is an old (and wise) statement most people would have heard […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Queensland Anti-Porn Crusaders Cop Ad Ban
  • Campaigns

Queensland Anti-Porn Crusaders Cop Ad Ban

We have a strident anti-pornography policy at B&T. Earphones must be worn at all times and strictly no little people.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Nature’s Way Celebrates Big Things Little People Do In UCG Videos Via Wavemaker & Storyful
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Nature’s Way Celebrates Big Things Little People Do In UCG Videos Via Wavemaker & Storyful

Health and wellbeing company Nature’s Way is celebrating the achievements of kids in a series of relatable and entertaining online videos that tug at the heart strings of parents. Instead of using actors to tell the brand story of Nature’s Way’s Kids Smart supplement range, Storyful has helped Wavemaker to license user-generated content clips of […]

DEC PR Wins Hisense Account
  • Marketing

DEC PR Wins Hisense Account

Electronics and whitegoods specialist Hisense has announced it has appointed DEC PR to lead its strategic communications remit in the local market, following a competitive tender process. DEC PR will work to support its brand building activities and managing corporate communications. The agency’s work will integrate closely with Hisense’s other marketing partners. Andre Iannuzzi, marketing […]

QMS Media Expands Presence In Melbourne With New Digital Billboard ‘The G’
  • Advertising
  • Media

QMS Media Expands Presence In Melbourne With New Digital Billboard ‘The G’

Outdoor media company QMS Media has strengthened its digital outdoor presence in Victoria, unveiling an iconic digital billboard in the heart of Melbourne’s famous sporting precinct. The launch of ‘The G’ sees QMS’ landmark digital portfolio ‘bookending’ arguably one of the most iconic and in-demand digital outdoor locations in Australia – Richmond Station Bridge – […]

HSBC Sydney 7s Creates New Visual Identity For 2018 Via Digilante
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

HSBC Sydney 7s Creates New Visual Identity For 2018 Via Digilante

As part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the Sydney 7s event returns in January complete with a new brand identity, creative strategy and media campaign. With the 2017 Sydney 7s a sell-out event, the challenge for 2018 was to carry that momentum into the third year, defining Sydney’s place as the new ‘go-to’ […]

Bound Round Launches Family Travel Publication for Aussies
  • Media

Bound Round Launches Family Travel Publication for Aussies

Family travel platform Bound Round has announced the launch of its first e-magazine to Australian consumers. Travel Bound is a family-focused, digital quarterly publication available on all Virgin Australia flights through the carrier’s in-flight entertainment system, and is also available for consumer download via the Bound Round website. Bound Round founder and CEO Janeece Keller […]

SBS Unveils New Look, New App For SBS News
  • Media

SBS Unveils New Look, New App For SBS News

Do you like say "I only watch SBS" in an attempt to sound smarter than you are? Well, why not pretend to read this too?

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ex-Samsung CMO Joins Amazon Australia As Marketing Director
  • Marketing

Ex-Samsung CMO Joins Amazon Australia As Marketing Director

Amazon Australia has appointed former Samsung Electronics chief marketing officer (CMO) Arno Lenior to lead its marketing division. Lenior worked as Samsung’s CMO for more than three years before departing in 2015. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has also held CEO roles at VR company Virtical and brand consultancy Blue Ocean Brands, and joined […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
News Corp Names Its Car Of The Year
  • Marketing

News Corp Names Its Car Of The Year

News announces its annual Car Of The Year and it's not what you'd expect. Well, we certainly didn't expect it anyway.

Aussie Tennis Open & Country Road Announce New Partnership
  • Marketing

Aussie Tennis Open & Country Road Announce New Partnership

The Australian Open has partnered with iconic Australian clothing and lifestyle brand Country Road to supply the uniforms for next year’s tournament. Confirmed today as the official fashion lifestyle Partner of Australian Open 2018, one of Australia’s most loved brands will be worn by thousands of tournament staff at Melbourne Park in January. On-court officials including the chair and […]

Andrew O’Keefe Quits His Weekend Sunrise Duties
  • Media

Andrew O’Keefe Quits His Weekend Sunrise Duties

After 12 years with Weekend Sunrise, Andrew O’Keefe has decided to step away from his hosting and reporting duties. O’Keefe will continue his full-time role as host of Seven’s quiz show The Chase Australia, as well as focus on other projects with the Network. “The ideal job is doing work you love with people you love,” O’Keefe […]

Study: Brand Loyalty Hinges On Customer Support Experiences
  • Marketing

Study: Brand Loyalty Hinges On Customer Support Experiences

Fast and effective support will be a competitive differentiator for companies looking to win over digitally transformed customers and employees, new research has revealed. According to a study by IDC and LogMeIn titled Support Services as a Competitive Differentiator, nearly 67 per cent of consumers said that customer satisfaction was more important than price when […]

OMA Appoints Red Ant Design To Build Industry’s First Automated Proposal Platform
  • Advertising
  • Media

OMA Appoints Red Ant Design To Build Industry’s First Automated Proposal Platform

The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has announced the appointment of Red Ant Design to build the out-oh-home (OOH) industry’s first automated proposal platform (APP). After an extensive global search and industry consultation, the decision to build the system in-house with a local Australian company was made. The APP will be built in an agile process, […]

Nick Ballard, Managing Director
Australia & New Zealand, BlisMedia
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Blis Unveils New Consumer Behaviour Analytics Tool For Maketers

Location data technology company Blis has launched an analytics tool that allows marketers to analyse consumer behaviour – from audience profiling, to exposure, to attribution – by capturing and activating mobile movement data. Smart Trends offers robust in-store consumer behavioural insights and in-store comparison of multiple location types and brands, allowing marketers to break down demographic, […]

WiTH Collective Linked By Isobar Renames Colours Of The Great Barrier Reef As Part Of New Campaign
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

WiTH Collective Linked By Isobar Renames Colours Of The Great Barrier Reef As Part Of New Campaign

The Great Barrier Reef is under threat, and WiTH Collective – part of Isobar Australia Group – has launched a social movement to protect it. The ‘Unite for the Reef’ campaign will put vivid pops of colour into millions of social media feeds as a global network of individuals united to pledge support for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.  Spearheaded […]

Imagination Unveils Creative For Sydney’s NYE 2017 Celebrations
  • Marketing

Imagination Unveils Creative For Sydney’s NYE 2017 Celebrations

The City of Sydney has unveiled the creative line-up for 2017 Sydney New Year’s Eve celebrations, including a new look and theme for Australia’s largest public event, conceived by experience agency Imagination. In its seventh year as the creative team behind the event, Imagination has set out to create a fresh, inspiring new theme and […]