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The Rentokil “Pestaurant” wins PR idea of the week

20th August 2013

I love a smart idea neatly served up as much as the next PR. Which is probably why I've been so impressed with this little number over the past couple of weeks ...

The Rentokil "Pestaurant". Serving well-cooked vermin and creatures more usually associated with infestation than fine dining to the folk of London town in celebration of 85 years of pest control.

We've seen a host of pop up restaurants appear in the name of PR over recent years. Perhaps most memorably BA Flight 2013.

But I was struck by how – and why – this one worked so particularly well.

And I was particularly struck because - alongside the trend for pop-up eateries - we've also seen a host (or swarm perhaps) of stunts involving edible insects – Wahaca stands out as having done especially well with just such an addition to their menu.

Of course (and as ever) it's been neatly handled from a media perspective. Even the cleverest idea needs a keen publicity team confident of their story to make it fly.

But the fact that it was launched before it launched – with an announcement two or more weeks out of its impending arrival – created a spot of buzz and anticipation (that they managed to carry that chatter to the event itself) was a cracking piece of media thinking. And the pre-announcement did nothing to diminish the coverage on the day. It merely gave them two opportunities rather than one.

However, the real genius (if genius it was) lies in the fact that Brands2Life did (at least) four other things remarkably well – things the rest of us should learn from and admire.

Strategically, they managed to come up with something left of field for their client while convincing that same organisation that the message would carry. A sceptical client wouldn't naturally believe a restaurant serving maggots was going to get their message across – that Rentokil can help with all manner of infestation and that it was 85 years old.

And yet that's exactly what happened - thanks to an execution compelling enough that the media wanted to write about it combining with an event so odd that its existence had to be explained. Journalists loved the story, but the editorial HAD to carry the brand message to tell the reader (or viewer) why it was present on the page, thereby getting the story across.

But tactically too, the team got a series of things right.

The name – start with a pun and work the idea out of it – worked stunningly well. Made people smile, made the whole thing memorable and gave it some wit.

The team went for an execution that delivered at the lowest cost possible. The “restaurant” was less of a restaurant and more of a … well, a stand really. A BBQ in a marquee. So many others would have gone to the expense of hiring a retail unit, decking it out, having it open for a week, hiring a celebrity chef … we’ve all been there. Instead, this campaign took the approach that would deliver the desired result in the quickest, simplest and most cost-effective way possible. And was all the better for it.

And that theme continued in a “keep it simple” approach that ran through the activity. No Facebook-based booking system, no media review day, no bells and no whistles, in other words.

Because sometimes, when you have an idea that is creative enough to make while lateral enough to require explanation and keep true to the thing about it that will deliver the coverage, not letting those “builds on the idea” get in the way is what it’s all about.

James Gordon-MacIntosh is founder and Managing Partner at Hope&Glory PR. He is also author of Ideas of the Year 2012: an incomplete compendium of the best ideas in PR during the year. You can buy a copy simply by emailing him.

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