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PR Stunt Watch: Golin x Specsavers is talkability gold

Did you know, or rather – have you heard – that Specsavers do hearing tests as well as eye tests? Well, thanks to their latest campaign with Rick Astley and Golin – you have now.

For the uninitiated, Rick Astley has re-recorded his iconic, one-hit-wonder ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ – with new lyrics. But not just any lyrics, the most misheard lyrics. The original lines have been replaced with hilarious alternatives such as; “Never Gonna Run Around with Dessert Spoons”, “you wouldn’t catch nits from any other guy” and “your aunt’s been naked”.

Re-writing song lyrics is a creative technique that is well-used in PR (see Deezer’s “It’s Raining Them”), and ‘misheard lyrics’ have been utilised by a number of brands and charities (see Peruvian Cancer Foundation here), but few campaigns have been as well-packaged as this one.

OnePoll research was used to deliver both jovial and sincere messages. The fun bit identified which songs are the most misheard, with ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ and Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ alongside Rick’s rock and roll in the top 10. It’s talkability gold, and when I first saw this story, the conversation immediately started – nobody can convince me that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana does not feature the word ‘avocado’.

…and that is exactly the point of this campaign.

The serious research highlights that there remains a stigma about talking about hearing loss. To such an extent, people will continually hide their lack of hearing by answering yes to every question or awkwardly laughing if they’ve not fully heard a passage of conversation. The campaign is fun; the message is serious – a creative campaign I adore, especially when the world is so ruddy and miserable. It would have been so easy to get the tiny violins out on hearing loss, and over-focus on the ‘loss’ - instead, this campaign has used a playful, evergreen talking point to get people talking.

The cherry on top? Rick Astley himself is living with hearing loss. The campaign would have worked without it because Rick and the song are so iconic, but it just added another layer of authenticity and even an additional news angle – I hadn’t heard Rick Astley had hearing loss before this campaign, but now I do – because of this campaign.

It got people talking, it got mainstream coverage, and it’s gone worldwide. To quote the great man himself, ‘You wouldn’t get this from any other guy’.

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

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