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The battle of the festive PR campaigns

With Christmas a time of mass consumer spending it’s no surprise that companies step their promotion up a notch. Here I take a look at a range if PR ideas, some of which are Christmas crackers, some cold turkeys.

Coke Zero’s Christmas Sweater Generator

Along with excessive eating, drinking and office Secret Santa, an ironically terrible Christmas jumper is one of many modern-day necessities over the Christmas period. Whether one chooses to actually sport the garment in public, along with that knowing grin, is another matter, but those who refuse to conform to the trend are considered 21st century Scrooges.

Never a brand to shy away from the spotlight at Christmas, Coca Cola have picked up on this national obsession, and offered consumers the chance to design, and win, their own aesthetically unpleasing Christmas jumper. If you don’t mind your Snowman accompanied by a flimsy Coke Zero label, this might be the garment for you. The combination of a punchy title and its own hash tag – #SweaterGenerator – make this a clever festive campaign which has been picked up heavily in the marketing press.

The Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service, one of many festive PR stunts

The Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service, one of many festive PR stunts

Santa’s delivering a serious message this Christmas

It seems even the eternal St. Nicholas knows the importance of giving blood, as can be seen by a queue of Santas outside the West End donor centre last week. Those filing into the centre off Oxford Street were dressed in the traditional red Santa outfits, while those who left did so in white suits, “drained” of their colour, to emulate the act of giving blood this Christmas.

This campaign delivered an important message to the public that, while we are all busy eating, drinking and Christmas shopping, there are helpless people out there with only one gift on their wish list; blood to keep them alive. The Metro picked up on this clever stunt which, if the solemn TV adverts aren’t enough, has hopefully inspired Londoners to give the most precious gift of all.

DJ Alan Partridge puts Norwich on the map

As an Ipswich boy it pains me to celebrate the success of our lesser neighbours, but the city of Norwich showed a sense of humour and marketing nous when its annual Christmas lights display revealed a nine metre-tall sculpture of fictional radio DJ Alan Partridge’s face, beaming down at the crowd.

As one of the city’s biggest “celebrities”, there was no better person to make an appearance at Christmas than Steve Coogan’s fictional character, to put Norwich on the map of cities known for their Christmas lights.

A gift from Hotel Chocolat

At prep school, it was always a novelty being invited round to my friend Dan’s house, for his dad was co-founder of Chocolate Express, or the more luxurious Hotel Chocolat, as it is now famously known. Even at the tender age of eleven I knew that his dad was on to a winner, in charge of a brand who celebrated chocolate in the most imaginative of ways. Although this year’s stunt is somewhat clichéd, it works well, with the video receiving 16,000 YouTube views in under a week.

Hotel Chocolat officially released an advert on YouTube last week, which begins with a giant Christmas present sitting in the middle of Westfield shopping centre. A note reading ‘pull the ribbon to unwrap me’ is far too tempting for a passerby, who obliges, to reveal an array of dancers, circus performers, snow and balloons emerging from inside the giant gift. The dancers break out in synchronised dance while astonished shoppers gather in their hundreds. Paired with the slogan ‘every gift is a celebration’, this campaign from Hotel Chocolat captures the true magic of Christmas, as well as associating the brand with feelings of joy, fun and celebration.

Amazon unveils ‘ground-breaking’ plans for Amazon Prime Air…

In the build-up to Christmas, Amazon seized the opportunity to tell the world that they are currently testing unmanned drones, capable of delivering a parcel to a customer within 30 minutes of the order being placed.

It became clear that this was all part of a PR stunt when Amazon said the drones were currently being ‘tested’, but it made me laugh hearing that, “One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.” A clever stunt but clearly a one hit wonder.

…and Waterstones responds with an army of owls

Not to be outdone by their online competitor, Waterstones responded to Amazon’s statement by announcing the launch of their very ornithological delivery service – real life owls.

Press Manager, Jon Owls (yes), claimed that a specially-trained fleet of the birds would form the Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service, or O.W.L.S.  Developments are still ongoing, however, as, “It takes ages to train owls to do anything and we only just thought of it this morning.”

There has been a great range of stunts out there so far and as we get closer to the big day I’m sure brands will get bigger and bolder in their attempts to grab consumer attention and push their products.

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