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The 10 best PR stunts of 2023

You can’t beat a great PR stunt for getting attention. Here is our selection of the top ten of 2023.

January

Bert’s Books - Spare display

Stacey Kedwards, senior PR manager at integrated agency ilk Agency: “Kicking off the start of 2023, a personal favourite of mine has to be Bert’s Books, the independent book shop in Swindon. Its display of Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare cleverly positioned next to Bella Mackie’s How To Kill Your Family proves that simplicity really is genius. To see an independent bookshop make international headlines and go viral across social media is always a win in my eyes.”

February

Rihanna’s plug for Fenty at Super Bowl

Cheryl Morris owner of Midlands PR and copywriting service Creative Word PR and author of the PR Simplified Busting PR Myths series: “For me Rhianna’s mid performance application of make-up brand Fenty Beauty during the 2023 half time show in the Super Bowl symbolises everything you need to know about the power of good PR.

“The four-second stunt involved no words, or lengthy campaigns but went viral. According to Cosmetics Business, Google searches for Fenty Beauty increased by 883% immediately after her performance and Launchmetrics calculated her performance generating $11.3million of Media Impact Value for Fenty Beauty in the week after the Super Bowl.

“Simple and effective, the stunt just goes to show the power of having your key messaging or product placement in front of the right audience at the right time. PR doesn’t have to be complicated it just needs to be cleverly executed with a clear message and the possibilities are endless.”

Who Gives a Crap - Flush your ex

Natalie Allen, account director at PR firm Battenhall: “My standout campaign in 2023 was from toilet paper brand, Who Gives A Crap, that helped the public finally flush away their ex partners. Just in time for Valentine's Day, the brand launched a campaign for scorned lovers to send in their old letters to be recycled into, as they put it, something useful. How could you not love something that is eco-friendly and gives you closure?! Simple but super effective.”

March

Surreal Cereal and Dwayne Johnson

Ben Clark, PR consultant in the sports technology industry: “It's tough to single out a favourite this year, but if I had to, I'd likely choose the collaboration between Surreal Cereal and Dwayne Johnson.

“I like it for its unique, playful nature, and genius wit. I also wouldn’t have expected to find this level of amusement from a cereal company!”

April

Heinz x Absolut pasta sauce

Anna Craven, associate director at PR agency Stir: “Not only did the Heinz x Absolut pasta sauce collab get blanket coverage in national and consumer media, but it also signified a shift in the brand’s tone and positioning, welcoming a new era of unexpected, playful, and fame-driving stunts that only Heinz can do. The overwhelming positive consumer response reportedly saw pasta sauce overtake Ketchup as the brand’s top-selling product, and longer-term, it has also given the industry food for thought, prompting brand managers, marketers and PRs to consider ways to be more brave and be open to ideas that get their brand in verticals outside their usual territory. Bravo, Heinz!”

June

Fiat - No More Grey

Ben Smith, associate director at PR agency Wildfire: “My favourite PR stunt of 2023 has to be the Fiat No More Grey campaign.

“I absolutely loved the audacity of the stunt itself - I would have loved to be in the room when they told the CEO what they had planned. But the real reason why I think it is the stand-out stunt of the year is the deceptively simple message at the heart of the campaign.

“’We aren’t doing grey cars anymore’ seems almost childish in its simplicity - and yet it cuts straight to the heart of any brand that wants to be associated with all the life and colour of Italy itself. And they made it all look so effortless - of course it wasn’t, but they still made it feel fresh and light and fun - it wasn’t serious or po-faced at all.

“So that combination of purity of message, boldness of the strategy, and delightful execution - the stunt was just streets ahead of anything else I’ve seen this year.”

DASH - Prince Harry trial giveaway

Claudia Jones, senior account executive at PR agency Words + Pixels: “A PR stunt of 2023 that stands out in my mind was DASH water’s appearance outside the High Count for the cross-examination of Prince Harry in June. Armed with billboards reading “Harry doesn’t want the limelight but we do”, the brand began to hand out cans of lime drink to onlookers and press waiting outside - genius!

@dashdrinks Harry doesn’t want the limelight so we’ll seize it instead 🤭 #dashintothelimelight #newdashlime ♬ original sound - Dash

“I really love this campaign because it’s simple and clever, yet I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s one of those that makes you think: ‘I wish I came up with that’. It certainly made me smile and the brand’s TikTok blew up, with over 1.8 million views, really showing the power of social media when it comes to PR stunts.”

July

Maybelline - tube and bus lashes

Mark Perkins, executive creative director at PR agency COW. “Looking back at the picks for 2022, this year probably didn’t have so many blockbuster stunts. One that really stood out for innovation was the Maybelline skyline stunt (that wasn’t a stunt), but a groundbreaking use of CGI. As I wrote at the time, it sparked online debate as to ‘How did they do that?’ and was a definite example of how to harness TikTok and crossover into mainstream media.”

Read more about this stunt here.

October

Paris Distance - Rob it to Get it

Harriet Scott, CEO of agency GingerComms: “For me, the stand out PR stunt of 2023 has to be Paris' Distance boutique's Rob it to Get it campaign. Customers were invited to steal its apparel - if they could outrun its new security guard, French Olympian Meba Mickael Zezo, who once ran the 100-meter dash in under 10 seconds.

“Distance worked with ad agency BETC Paris on this bold activation, and aimed to 'reclaim the essence of sportswear through unexpected means'.

“The bravery to flip the narrative on the shoplifting crisis hitting Europe resulted in widespread traction, with coverage across titles as varied as the Washington Post, Yahoo, and Runners World. And a Youtube video that encapsulated the stunt was used across multiple outlets, generating thousands of views. This stunt hit first place for me!”

November

JD Sports - swapping influencers for landmarks

Stacey Kedwards, senior PR Manager at integrated agency ilk Agency: “Swapping influencers for iconic landmarks, such as Big Ben and Eiffel Tower, this was a creative and show-stopping campaign. In a world where we’re living in the digital sphere, to see PR stunts that stop people in their tracks is something worth putting TikTok down for.”

There are more amazing stunts highlighted in PRmoment’s regular feature Stunt Watch, you can read the latest one here.

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