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PR Stunt Watch: Paddy Power’s Asterisk team, Steve Bray at Rishi’s announcement and Ikea launches the Cat-alogue

PaddyPower Asterisk

Manchester City got crowned champions (again) of football's most prestigious league at the weekend, which was somewhat expected and has resulted in a very quiet celebration, feeling flat in comparison to the year Leicester City did the impossible. This is because Manchester City was expected to win; they’ve splashed the cash and got the world's best manager, players, and facilities.

In building their super team, they’ve - allegedly - broken a few of the rules, 115 of them, rules that are there to level the playing field - allegedly - whether they work or not is another question. But this gave the notorious PaddyPower their chance to get into the spotlight in the way that they do and do well.

They launched the Asterisk Task Force, a 24/7 on-call squad for any sporting achievement that is considered tainted. From biddies competing in the local Indoor Bowls Championship on beta-blockers to breaches of Financial Fair Play, they have an asterisk for any job, big or small.

Launched with a hilarious video, timely done, it kept PaddyPower's reputation for tapping into sport's biggest moments.

Things can only get better

Next up is a stunt that every agency wishes they could do and that most clients would (probably) never do. During Rishi Sunak’s miserable and wet announcement that we would be heading to the polls this summer to elect a new government, you may have heard some background noise.

The tune of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by D:Ream, synonymous with Labour’s 1997 election, was heard blasting in the background. While - quite upsettingly - it wasn’t Tony Blair blasting it out of a speaker, it was protagonist and long-time protester Steve Bray, who has been the backing track to many a political announcement.

The speed and efficiency in which this stunt happened is what agencies will envy. The rumours that an election was going to be called started circulating around midday, and within a few hours the ‘stunt’ was set up and took a good chunk of limelight from the announcement. Newsjacking 101.

Let’s just see which agency can get a client to sign an idea off as brave as that.

Ikeas 'cat-alogue' and 'dog-alogue'

The most pun-filled stunt I've seen in a while, to highlight Ikea’s brand new pet range, they also teamed up with Woodgreen Pets Charity to help find rescue dogs their 'fur-ever' home and highlight the importance of supporting pet charities, all whilst bringing the new Ikea Utsådd range to life.

Launching a lookbook aptly named both the 'cat-alogue' and 'dog-alogue' is a move away from Ikea's usual room sets. In the Cat-alogue are items such as cat beds and cat houses featuring an array of rescue cats. The Dog-alogue showcases a series of soft toys and dog beds with another range of rescue dogs. I couldn’t quite see if each animal used was also available for adoption, but I really hope that they were, in a weird shoppable crossover for rescue dogs.

A lovely touch was that all the furniture featured in the collection's catalogues was donated back to the Pets Charity.

A Sh*t Idea

I’m writing about another billboard idea, sorry. This week the Catherine McEwan Foundation launched a stunt to draw attention to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Creating a QR code out of empty loo rolls, the QR code led to a powerful short film showing what it’s really like to live with the uncomfortable and isolating realities of IBD. Then they purposely defaced their billboard with the help of renowned Glaswegian street artist, Conzo Throb - with a very Scottish message.

I’d love to know how they sold the idea that they’re just going to put a QR code on a billboard and write “what’s this shit all about” on it to the client and the steps in doing so. Looking at the landscape, it feels like billboards and print are having a big resurgence in the OOH world, and we need to push them to their limits in order to get our messages across.

This week's PR Stunt Watch was written by Lee Sanders, associate director at Frank.

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