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2013 in review – Top 20 PR campaigns and stunts of the year

Taylor-HerringThis round-up is kindly supported by Taylor Herring – in their own words, ‘purveyors of fame and viral content’. They do smart, creative PR work – and although saying nice things wasn’t part of the deal, it’s important to note here that I’ve only ever advertised companies I like and that are relevant to readers.

If you’ve just come here for the examples, skip this next bit. Honestly. I’m a bit of a rambler, you see. I just know I’m going to be that old codger at the bar incoherently muttering about this and that, whilst seemingly drinking from the same pint you saw me supping on three hours earlier. So, yeah, skim until you get to the next bold bit, it’s probably for the best.

You decided to read this bit, then? We could be, or probably are already, friends.

This site launched in late-January 2012, so is soon to enter its third year and, going out on a limb here, with 30,000ish unique visitors most months and aware as I am (or was) of other UK-based PR blog unique visitor stats, I *think* it might just about be the most popular PR blog. That is based in the UK. And that is independent.

Whatever you make of that likely entirely untrue proclamation, I’m pretty proud of what this site has become, especially as when it started out, in one of the first ever proper posts, I listed some of my failures to that point as a sort-of ‘this is probably going to fall by the wayside at some point’ pre-emptive move and set out the mission statement, which is still pretty much adhered to. I am also hugely appreciative of our constantly-growing contributor-base (200+ and counting) and am megachuffed that thousands of people use it to see what others in the industry are doing, for inspiration, to find case studies and generally to be entertained by the output of some of the brightest marketing minds. Thanks to everybody that supports the site by reading, sharing and posting. I do have fun doing it.

There have been more than 550 posts in 2013 (so far) by PRexamples contributors, averaging 46 posts each month. As such, a list of the top 20 hardly does the great work done within the industry justice, but it is what it is.

The examples are ordered by the number of times each post, all previously featured on, has been read, giving as accurate an estimation of popularity as any other metric. The link in each title takes you to each post.

Before I forget, if youwould like to receive the best PR stunts/campaigns of each week, directly to your inbox (sponsored by DWPub), click here to subscribe (there’s also a box to the right that does the same job).

Without further ado (and there’s been a lot of ado), I bring to you…

- The Top Twenty PR and marketing campaigns and stunts of 2013, in reverse order… -

20. Alton Towers 3D art lift stunt ‘shocks shoppers’ – A stunt created to ‘test people’s likely reaction’ to the then-new ride Nemesis Sub-Terra, in which an artist’s 3D illusion gave the impression the floor of the lift had collapsed. One of a number of ‘prankvertising’ stunts we saw this year.

19. Virgin Atlantic take over park bench in NYC to give public ‘taste’ of the flight experience – Sir Richard Branson’s airline took over a bench in Manhattan and gave those that chose to sit on it ‘a taste of the Virgin Atlantic experience’, which meant a series of individual and brilliantly choreographed surprises.

18. Durex launches ‘Fundawear’. Letting couples touch each other over the Internet! – boxer shorts, bras and knickers were fitted with mini-vibrators to allow users to ‘touch’ each other from miles away. Post by Twelve Thirty Eight’s Inderdeep Gill (for more information, we also ran a ‘Behind the Campaign’ guest post by the team behind this stunt from Frank Australia – read it here)

17. David Beckham Runs Across LA in His Pants for H&M – to launch his H&M range of boxer shorts, David Beckham gave women all over the world what they wanted by prancing around in his undercrackers. It clearly worked; legions of people every month still wind up on this page having searched for Golden Balls’ golden balls. Post by WPR’s Zara Free

16. How the world of PR reacted to Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement – a look at reactive stunts executed to piggyback on the ex-Manchester United boss’ retirement.

15. Fanta unveil world’s first tastable print ad to promote new ‘more orangey’ flavour – in what Fanta claimed to be a world first, ads were created that tasted like their new flavour. Odd, but still pretty smart.

14. ‘Best bus stop ever’ – public surprised whilst waiting for a bus – to promote the message that ‘life is better with mobile’, here’s Qualcomm with a tamer telecoms-take on Push the Button

13. Burger King Bravely Changes Name to ‘Fries King’ to Launch New Product – Burger King decided to have a ‘rebrand’. Also worth having a look at this stunt involving Wi-Fi-enabling 8 foot fries to promote it. Post by student Ciaran McCormick

12. Coca-Cola ATM gives away free money, asks people to use it to help others – free money sounds the same in any language, so this (genuinely) nice stunt by Coke in Spain worked on many levels. Post by Twelve Thirty Eight’s Inderdeep Gill

11. Paddy Power sends giant ugly babies around London in royal birth stunt – amidst the legion of royal baby stunts, this one stood out. Bookmaker Paddy Power sent four creepy-looking man babies around London, posing in front of various landmarks as they did so. The branding is subtle, but it’s nothing less than what we’ve all come to expect from the brand. Post by WAA’s Alex Mansell

paddy power royal-baby-1

10. ‘Chocolate’ press release sent to journalists to promote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical

What? – Not so much a stunt or campaign as a method to deliver news to journalists and, by given how much this was shared, the wider public, too. Though it’s entirely possible it was just one of those ‘done to get a pat on the back by PR chums’ efforts.

When? April

Who? The Corner Shop PR

9. ‘Mysterious’ smiley face markings appear on sheep – here’s who’s behind it… –

What? I played Poirot to unmask le perpetrators of this ‘mysterious’ PR stunt. Manifest London’s Louise Moran also noted the stunt in her post here, including another step of the campaign

When? January

Who? Alton Towers in-house team and Cake PR


8. Hansel & Gretel Hotel made of cake opens in Soho for one night only 

What? You read that right. A hotel. Made. Of. Cake. This campaign to promote a new range of Tate and Lyle sugar took 14 artists almost 3,000 hours of baking and decorating time, using more than 600kgs of sugar. Post by JML’s Jonathon O’Connor.

When? March

Who? Mischief PR, Miss Cakehead and Helix 3D

7. Tesco launches innovative Google Map Easter Egg hunt

What? A Google Street View/microsite Easter campaign offering visitors the chance to win MaltEaster chocolate bunnies, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2S for those who find a special golden egg. Post by WPR Agency’s Jade Mansell

When? March

Who? Tesco’s social team

Tesco find the egg

6. Snickers teams up with Google in brilliant misspelled search terms stunt

What? So, Snickers is still going stro– well, it’s still going, with its ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ marketing campaign/brand message. You know, the one that got them in hot water when celebrities were clearly paid to tweet but didn’t declare it, Anyway, this campaign was actually pretty clever, tying search marketing and PR into one neat package. Post by WPR Agency’s Jade Mansell

When? May


5. Coffee shop customers pranked in brilliant Carrie remake ‘telekinetic’ PR stunt

What? One of the most popular posts on the site since ‘Push to Add Drama’, this secret camera stunt certainly got people talking about the upcoming Carrie remake. Earlier this month, it was named as the 8th most popular YouTube video of 2013.

When? October

Who? Thinkmodo

4. Haunted vending machine provides trick AND treat in fun Kellogg’s PR stunt

What? A nice Hallowe’en stunt I since found out WAS supposed to stay secret for longer than it did, but for a certain fame hungry, machine-dwelling, wannabe-comedian’s efforts. Still, didn’t turn out badly for Kellogg’s AT ALL.

When? October

Who? Boys & Girls

3. Resort refunds Katie Price’s honeymoon on condition she stays away for ‘future weddings’

What? Reacting to the model formerly known as Jordan’s public complaints about her honeymoon, Sandals Resorts offered her a full refund, with one humorous condition…

When? January

Who? Sandals in-house team

Katie Price boob wedding Sandals resort response

2. Pepsi dress as Coca-Cola for Halloween

What? A brilliantly cheeky effort Pepsi that proved incredibly popular, despite being one of the least expensive executions in this list – note the ‘Cola Coca’ text on the cape. Post by WAA’s Alex Mansell

When? October

Who? Buzz in a Box

1. Adobe photoshops commuters onto bus billboard ads as they wait for the bus

What? A great stunt from Stockholm, in which movie posters are made in real time featuring people sat waiting for the bus. Post by WPR’s Stephen Graham

When? June

Who? Abby Norm

If you enjoyed this post, you might like:

2012 in review – Top 20 PR campaigns and stunts of the year

If there’s anything in this post that is inaccurate/you’d like added (I’m thinking, agencies I haven’t credited correctly), please do just email me

Posted by:

Rich started in January 2012. He runs consumer PR agency Rich Leigh & Company, which has two offices in the UK. In March 2013, Rich co-founded blogger outreach service He tweets about PR stunts, campaigns and other media bits and pieces @RichLeighPR

Follow @goodandbadpr | Rich Leigh on Google+

  • ohreallynow66

    Nice recap of campaigns…thanks for assembling.