PRmoment Leaders PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRCA PRmoment Awards Winners North Creative Moment Awards 2024 PR Masterclass: AI in PR

PR Stunt Watch: EasyJet stick a pilot on a Billboard, Vinnie Jones' team talk and Willy Wonka's Unknown makes an appearance at London Dungeon

Thanks to a mixture of holidays and career moves, Stuntwatch has been on a brief hiatus of late - but we’re back with more bang than Cilit this week thanks to a hat-trick of five-star stunts.

EasyJet’s billboard passes with flying colours

First, we must pay homage to that rarest of beasts, the billboard that actually gets earned coverage.

EasyJet is on a recruitment drive for pilots, so they’ve bought some OOH ad space to advertise the role. It asks passers-by to consider if they have what it takes to fly a plane, a QR code that takes you to a flight simulator experience…and a real-life pilot attached to it.

Captain Sarah Ackerle was suspended to the billboard to inspire a new generation of pilots and debunk prevalent misconceptions about the role. She also answered questions from interested members of the public.

Some will query how many people actually saw and engaged with this ad in situ, but that’s largely irrelevant. This was an idea that was “made to show”, not “need to go”, and to call it an ad is almost misleading.

Yes, it is a billboard, but this was PR dressed as advertising, earned media posing as paid-for. An attention-grabbing picture, a solid debunking news story and an avalanche of coverage that speaks for itself. Taylor Herring and St Mark’s aced this one, the sort of landing you have to applaud.

As part of the campaign, you can take a pilot's reaction test and a useful sense of direction test!

Vinnie Jones delivers a team talk with a difference for Three and The Samaritans

We have made huge steps in destigmatising mental health - especially amongst men - but there’s still work to be done and football can do a job…

…step forward Three, Chelsea Football Club, The Samaritans, Mischief and Wonderhood Studios.

Football fans can talk endlessly about inverted wingers and double pivots, but when it comes to talking about mental health - we still need a bit of extra encouragement. We need an inspirational rallying cry, delivered by someone impactful and in language we understand. We need a team talk…

…step forward Vinnie Jones.

In a moving two-minute film, The Lock Stock star delivers a rousing team talk, seemingly aimed exclusively at some of Chelsea’s young playing talent. As the moving monologue progresses it becomes clear that this is actually a team talk for the entire football community, urging them to “talk more than football.”

The film is impactful, amusing and well-shot but, however good the craft, getting coverage for branded video content is a lot like getting coverage for billboards - it only happens if your idea was built for PR first…and this one was. The clue is in the talent.

Vinnie Jones was an inspired choice. By his own admission, he comes from an era where mental health just wasn’t a thing. Both in Hollywood and on the football pitch, his persona is intimidation and yet here he is delivering a speech about mental health. It’s the sort of counter-intuitive hook that the media love. He used to grab men by the bollocks, now he’s gone all soppy bollocks and as an added bonus, he’s having a bit of a “moment” after The Gentleman.

The video content itself was creatively on point, but it’s Vinnie Jones’ casting that is driving the seemingly endless headlines for this campaign. He is the stunt. His unexpected involvement makes the story and provides the key message. If someone like him can talk, so can you.

The Unknown gets a new job at London Dungeon

Lastly, one of my favourite stunts this year is a stunt that piggybacks on a stunt gone wrong.

Last month, a Scottish Willy Wonka experience went viral for being as magical as a first date at Frankie & Benny’s. Punters demanded refunds, kids were seen crying and staff took pelters as the event was so underwhelming it became barely more than a scam. However, amid the righteous consumer fury, a number of young actors caught strays as their debut acting roles descended into farce.

One such young actor was a 16-year-old named Felicia, who played “The Unknown.” In case you need a refresher: The Unknown was meant to be the villain of “Willy’s Chocolate Experience,” an evil chocolate maker who lived in the walls of Wonka’s candy factory and wanted to steal one of his confectionary inventions. The masked, cloaked figure became a symbol of the event’s sheer absurdity, helped by the fact that Felicia really committed to the part.

Her dedication to her dastardly character earned her a place in internet infamy, but more importantly, it attracted the attention of Stripe Communications and their client London Dungeons. As quickly as you could say, “Oompa Loompa”, the capital city’s premier scary attraction, had signed a new star—The Unknown—who will now make guest appearances in April.

It breathed new life into a story the British public had fallen in love with and took the media by storm, with a zero-to-hero redemption arc pressing all the right buttons and proving that sometimes a stunt on top of a stunt is a stunt worth watching.

This week's PR Stunt Watch was written by Greg Double, Creative Director at BCW.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: