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PR Stunt Watch: Fun works for Chessington World of Adventures and KIND Bars in a tough news environment

There  are few more powerful weapons in a creative’s arsenal than simplicity.

This is a golden rule for all creatives, but it is especially true for PR creatives who have been tasked with generating mainstream headlines.

Whereas your owned, social and paid channels can afford you some artistic explanation, in the world of earned - a 10-second story rules supreme.

To paraphrase Jesse from The Fast Show, this week, I have been mostly suffering from shingles. Though I would not wish it on anyone, it has proven to be quite a useful creative aid. I’m in considerable discomfort, which means I only have the capacity to appreciate easy-to-understand ideas. I’m in considerable discomfort, which means I’m grumpy as sin and appreciate any ideas that make me smile. Having shingles has aligned me with the UK’s news agenda – painful, grumpy and in need of pain relief.


It’s why I’ve chosen not one but two cheery stunts to watch this week – starting with Chessington World of Adventure, which used a new road law to charm Welsh visitors. As you may know, the Welsh government have legislated a top speed of 20mph on almost all their residential roads. In this polarised world where everything upsets everyone more than it should be, this new law has caused outrage in the Welsh car-driving population…so Chessington converted this outrage to promote their Mandrill Mayhem ride, which goes at 42mph, over twice as fast as roads in Wales!

In a tongue-in-cheek open letter – written in English and Welsh – Chessington encourages potential Welsh thrill-seekers to come and satisfy their unfulfilled need for speed at Chessington, which is only two hours and 30 minutes away from the Welsh border. In a further jokey twist, Welsh visitors won’t have to pay for their ‘speeding ticket’ – the souvenir picture of them riding on the Mandrill Mayhem, so they can ‘spread the word’ about speed in Wales.

Let’s not get it twisted; it’s all very silly, but who cares? This is PR for a rollercoaster. You don’t need a meaningful, chin-scratching purpose for a loop-the-loop – you need to wave your hands in the air and make mainstream media care, and that’s what this story did on both sides of the Severn. It was simple, funny and switched on – fitting that it came from an agency called Smarts.

Image credit: Chessington World of Adventures Resort


The second idea I wanted to spotlight this week was KIND kindness statue for a kind person on World Kindness Day…and that sentence is why it deserves praise.

It is so simple, so direct, and on the nose that I think many creative processes would have denied it. Both client and creatives should be lauded for not trying to overcomplicate the brief.

KIND bars are named as such because kindness is at the heart of the business, so why wouldn’t they unveil a statue of Sebbie Hall, the winner of their UK’s kindest person search, on Potter’s Field? I didn’t know KIND chocolate bars were literally named for kindness, I do now. That’s simple, effective creative for this shingled observer, and it proved a hit with the media too, with coverage wide-ranging from the BBC to the Daily Star.

The Chessington story is very silly, the KIND story is very nice, and they were both very simple…and that is this week’s lesson.

The UK’s news agenda is currently dominated by serious, nasty, and complicated news, but it can’t be all doom and gloom. Journalists are sick of it, and so are their readers. They want light as well as shade. They are looking for pain relief; they want smiles and simpler times – ideas that achieve this are the perfect antidote.

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

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