Written by Noemi Pollack on August 11, 2011.
Most would have titled this blog the “ultimate PR stunt” but truly it would be an insult to the Public Relations community to suggest that PR had anything to do with it.
The pinnacle of poor judgment was recently exhibited by an Australian laundry detergent brand, Vanish NapiSan, in their attempt to become the official detergent of the White House. Yes, believe it. Literally.
The company created a video for President Obama, hoping that in light of the stock market woes of this week, perhaps the President would actually consider the deal –
$27.3 million to sponsor the White House for five years. Just imagine a huge banner over the White House with the laundry detergent brand boldly displayed.
Now — clearly they had no hope whatsoever that this would ever become a reality. So why do it? To grab attention, stand out from the crowd, generate buzz and grow brand awareness — all the right stuff with the wrong tactic. They did get the buzz, though. Yes, the video is doing very well indeed virally, mostly because of the ridiculousness of the premise.
And I am guilty of aiding and abetting in this comedy… By writing about it, I am giving this campaign credence. Couldn’t help it. The foolhardiness of it was the lure.
But what did the company actually hope to get or achieve? What message was it supposed to send? That the company has “chutzpah” or gall? It certainly did not intend to endear consumers or trigger trial, with hopes of adoption as to its product.
I recognize that all this is but a blip in the greater marketing landscape. But there is a lesson to be learnt here that comedy for comedy’s sake without a message or take away may have worked back in the 80′s and before, but now in this world of interactivity, it will not work even as a stunt that will never be realized.
As everyone in the industry knows, using comedy is an easy way to make a brand more relatable to consumers. It helps the brand stand out from the crowd. Taco Bell is a great example of this. This company uses comedy through its Twitter handle to engage with customers, helping them to stand out from their competitors. Delta, among a slew of companies, also stands, likewise engaging conversations that trigger customer loyalty.
There’s no argument that stunts can attract, if only for a nanosecond. But a $27.3 million campaign needs to go past the first “WOW and attract something more lasting.
Like — maybe customers?