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PR Stunt Watch: Warner Studios celebrate the Return To Azkaban launch by flying Aunt Marge over Tower Bridge

This week’s stunt watch makes me super happy to write as we are seeing more and more traditional pure-play PR campaigns take front stage – and it’s the kind of creative I love. Simple. Effective. Engaging stunts and campaigns which stay true to their target audience's interests and land some serious ink and social shares! Without further ado…

Aunt Marge Flying Over Tower Bridge

Anyone who knows me knows this would be at the top of my list of creative stunts. As a huge Harry Potter fan – I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say I’ve probably watched The Prisoner of Azkaban more than 50 times in my lifetime, as it's the turn in the books/films where things get a little darker.

To celebrate the film's 20th anniversary since release (damn, I feel old) as well as Warner Studios' newest Tour “Return To Azkaban” – they’ve only gone and got Aunt Marge.

The 95kg, 6ft5 inflatable was erected at Tower Bridge, mimicking the scene where an angsty Harry blows up his aunt. Was it successful? Well, it went global. Google "Aunt Marge" and not only will the iconic film scene pop up, but so will the stunt images as well as coverage spanning national and global press. Let’s not forget the ample social posts that brought the stunt to my attention.

For me, what makes it iconic is its serious fan satisfaction. Mainly when you think of Harry's third year in the wizarding world, you think of other iconic characters or moments such as the Dementors, moving Wanted posters, and maybe even the Hippogriff that gets saved as a secondary good deed. Inflated Aunt Marge is perfect as it takes Harry’s experience in the “Muggle World” and brings it to life with a simple stunt – as if plucked from the books (or films… whichever floats your boat).

Ikea DOJA Towel

Firstly, let me preface this with a few unpopular opinions. The MET Gala left me flat this year. Not many of the stars we look forward to seeing grace the red carpet gave me the looks I craved. Anna Wintour apologising for the theme being unclear because the red carpet didn’t have its usual je ne sais quoi – says it all. And the most iconic moment was Rihanna saying she stayed at home because she had a cold. Phew… now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s explore the good to come out of it.

Yearly, we look forward to seeing our favourite celebrities, designers, and style icons come together with irreverent fashion looks. Ripping up the fashion playbook and producing some of the most creative, over-the-top designs that literally break the internet. Inspiring conversations, memes, upholstery (Kim Kardashian circa 2014), Halloween costumes, and even, in some rare cases, the wedding look of the season.

And what a great opportunity for brands to sit tight, wait for the red carpet looks to drop, and come up with their very own newsjacking moments they can pivot with. Although I would argue this year was quite lacklustre, Ikea knocked it out of the park with this remake of Doja Cat's pre-red carpet attire.

All week Doja Cat had been spotted in New York wearing some of the most ridiculous, yet interesting Avant Garde looks ahead of storming the carpet. From a cling film mini skirt, boob tube duo; to her wet t-shirt on the green MET carpet; to her fresh-out-of-the-shower towel ensemble she sported for onlookers and press.

Kudos to the Ikea team for spotting the look and within hours turning around their very own DOJA shoot – renaming their towel products… DOJA. I won’t bore you with waxing lyrical on how clever it was, but I hope to see more brands going back to core PR traditions of staying on the pulse of culture and making it work with a quick, dirty, yet impressive tongue-in-cheek newsjacking.

Co-Op Live

Last but not least, this had to get an honourable mention – because although not quite a stunt… it might as well be.

All week we have seen Co-op Live venue hit the headlines with its inability to open due to ongoing works – letting down teens and artists alike. And when I say letting down, I mean… I literally saw a 16-year-old girl say it was her last chance at freedom. Dramatic much? But we have all been there!

Now I’d assume that this is a literal nightmare for Co-Op with their ongoing issues and breakdown of relationships with artists. But bear with me – there is a certain level of Wonka Experience that I’m kinda sort of enjoying. First of all, let me say, as someone close to the culture and a lover of music… I had no clue Co-Op even had a live music venue. So, I mean awareness tick.

Secondly, there are only so many times they’ll be able to mess people around with this – but in a world where consumers are literally feeding into clickbait shock content and getting their kicks out of seeing activities not going to plan, it doesn’t feel all that bad. From onlookers stating to just switch it on and off – and it should work. Or suggesting putting it in rice, I think we are still in the realms of top bants over epic failure.

Do they need to sort the live wires hanging from the ceiling and make sure the floor doesn’t cave in… absolutely. But I mean the Wonka Experience (yes, the one in Glasgow with the Unknown and dishevelled Oompa Loompas) is currently on tour in LA – so there is still hope for it yet.

This week's PR Stunt Watch was written by Kim Allain, Creative at MSL Group

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