In PR, creativity is king, and sometimes that means going above and beyond the usual tactics. PR pros are well aware that sometimes it takes a daring, outrageous stunt to make a brand stand out from the crowd. These stunts may sometimes be risky, but they can also lead to unprecedented success and brand recognition – even if that means launching from the stratosphere (quite literally).

Here are five of some of the most memorable PR stunts of all time:

1. The “Share a Coke” Campaign

Photo courtesy Coca-Cola
Photo courtesy Coca-Cola

In 2011, Coca-Cola launched a personalized marketing campaign in which Coke bottles and cans were labeled with popular names, encouraging consumers to share and connect with friends and family by finding and buying bottles with their loved ones’ names on them.

Why it worked: The campaign was personalizable, shareable, emotional – and interactive. Customers who shared their experience online with the hashtag #ShareaCoke had a chance to be featured on Coca-Cola’s global billboards, which generated massive organic interaction on social media. The campaign was a massive hit, and in the following summer, 1.25 million more millennials tried Coke, boosting participating Coca-Cola packages sales by a staggering 11 percent in the United States.

2. Red Bull Stratos

Photo courtesy Jay Nemeth/Red Bull

In 2012, Red Bull sponsored a record-breaking skydive from the stratosphere. Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium balloon at an altitude of 24 miles, breaking the sound barrier as he plummeted to Earth. 

Why it worked: Red Bull, an energy drink company, has been known to push the boundaries of what is humanly possible. This stunt was no exception. It generated millions of views on YouTube and garnered worldwide media coverage, solidifying the brand’s image as thrillingly dangerous.  

3. Uber Offered Promotional Helicopter Rides

Photo courtesy CNN

Uber elevated its ridesharing services to new heights by offering promotional helicopter rides to its users. Back in 2012, Uber started the service by chartering helicopter rides from New York City to the Hamptons, giving upscale weekenders a stylish mode of transportation to the beach. Although the concept wasn’t long-lived, it was surprising, but not out of the ordinary for a transportation company.

Why it worked: It showcased Uber’s innovation in the realm of transportation services. It serves as a perfect example of how a business can create a buzzworthy PR stunt connected to its regular product offerings while being unique and exciting enough to attract the attention of the media.

4. The Ice Bucket Challenge

Photo courtesy NBC News

In 2014, the ALS Association launched the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Participants filmed themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenged others to do the same or donate to the cause.

Why it worked: The challenge went viral, with celebrities and public figures joining in and became a cultural phenomenon that raised over $115 million for ALS research. It demonstrated the power of social media, the impact of a simple idea, and the importance of having a clear and meaningful purpose behind a PR stunt.

5. Reese’s Largest Chocolate Bar

Photo courtesy Guinness World Records

Weeks after Snickers achieved the record for the world’s largest chocolate nut bar, Reese’s took the title after unveiling a massive 5,943-pound Reese’s Take 5 chocolate bar, which was certified by Guinness World Records. This clever achievement came weeks ahead of Reese’s first-ever 2020 Super Bowl commercial. 

Why it worked: In 2004, Reese’s introduced the Take 5 candy bar, but it didn’t catch on with consumers, resulting in a rebrand in 2019. To address this, Reese’s created a larger-than-life version of the candy bar and promoted it on the biggest advertising stage in the world a.k.a. a Super Bowl commercial with the candid messaging, “the best bar you’ve never heard of.” The candy bar proved to be a hit because sales increased by 131%. 

In conclusion, sometimes it takes a bold and daring approach to capture the attention of audiences and make a lasting impact on brand recognition. Whether it’s through personalized PR campaigns, record-breaking skydives, or creating massive chocolate bars, these stunts have proven to be successful in generating buzz, engagement, and even raising funds for a worthy cause. As PR pros, it’s important to continuously innovate and push boundaries to ensure that clients’ messages are heard loud and clear.

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