In marketing, a publicity stunt is a planned event designed to attract the public's attention to the event's organizers or their cause. Publicity stunts can be professionally organized, or set up by amateurs. Such events are frequently utilized by advertisers, and by celebrities who notably include athletes and politicians.
Organizations sometimes seek publicity by staging newsworthy events that attract media coverage. They can be in the form of groundbreakings, world record attempts, dedications, press conferences or organized protests. By staging and managing the event, the organization attempts to gain some control over what is reported in the media. Successful publicity stunts have news value, offer photo, video and sound bite opportunities, and are arranged primarily for media coverage.
It can be difficult for organizations to design successful publicity stunts that highlight the message instead of burying it. For example, it makes sense for a pizza company to bake the world's largest pizza, but it would not make sense for the YMCA to sponsor that same event. The importance of publicity stunts is for generating news interest and awareness for the concept, product or service being marketed.
Boston Mooninite panic, 2007
- Suspicious objects were reported around the city of Boston that were part of a guerrilla marketing event for an Aqua Teen Hunger Force film. LED light boards were placed throughout the city of Boston and authorities responded as though the guerrilla marketing tactic was a possible bomb threat.
Abercrombie & Fitch & Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, 2011
- Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from MTV's Jersey Shore was formally asked to no longer wear Abercrombie & Fitch clothing in return for a sum of money. A&F explained (in a news release) that the reason was to protect the integrity of their brand image. Newspaper companies and entertainment media picked up the story and spread the news.
Red Bull Stratos Jump, 2012
- Garnering over 50 million views, the Red Bull Stratos jump would break five records, be shown across multiple streaming partners and eventually raise sales after six months of the event.
TNT's "Push to add drama", 2012
- Citizens were exposed to dramatic scenes after a button was placed in a public square as a way to market the launch of TNT in Belgium.
- Edward Bernays
- Guerrilla marketing
- Photo op
- Media circus
- Media prank
- Stunting (broadcasting)
- Viral marketing
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