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2015 in review – Top 20 PR campaigns and stunts of the Year

Top 20Gooood day to you, reader.

This here is the fourth ‘year in review’ post we’ve done (not forgetting all of the ‘top 10…’ monthly posts throughout 2015) – and I can honestly say, it’s packed with 20 great campaigns – from cheeky reactive efforts to PR with a real purpose.

A few facts and figures

With around 2,000 examples on the site now from hundreds of different contributors from all around the world, it’s become something of a treasure trove and even in compiling this list by looking at analytics, I got to see brilliant examples I had barely any recollection of. I do these annual lists to give a snapshot, but it can’t be stated enough – if you’re looking for inspiration or, like me, you just enjoy seeing what the industry is turning out, there’s plenty here for you, all searchable by category, the search box up there ^^^ or in one of the list posts we put together.

And a quick review of the site’s traffic shows that it has stayed there or thereabouts where it was throughout 2014, which is no bad thing given we’re doing between 30-60,000 uniques a month in an industry with an estimated 55,000 people in the UK (where this is done from).

How was the top 20 decided?

The list is ordered by the number of times each post, all previously featured on, has been visited, giving as accurate an estimation of popularity as any other metric. The link in each title takes you to each post, where you’ll be able to read more about it, but each does have a description that might be enough for you.

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Without further ado, I bring to you…

The top 20 PR and marketing campaigns and stunts of 2015, in reverse order…

20. There’s a billboard at Old Truman Brewery today which dispenses FREE beer– April – post by Three Monkeys’ Inderdeep Gill


Carlsberg trumped Coca-Cola a week or two after its drinkable billboard US campaign with this, a BEER dispensing UK version, which, really, was always going to win out.

19. Full sized polar bear spotted on the tube– January – Post by The Splash Partnership’s Niki Goddard


To promote the launch of Sky Atlantic’s new show Fortitude, an 8-ft tall animatronic (and very realistic-looking) polar bear was spotted hopping on and off the London underground. This stunt would totally have worked for a new season of Lost, too.

18. Naked baristas shock New Yorkers in Nestle PR stunt– July – post by Jordan Smith

Nescafe stunt naked cafe

To promote its ‘all natural’ coffee-mate creamer, Nestle used ‘Au Naturel’ – basically, naked and body painted – staff and customers in pop-up shop The Natural Bliss Café. Cue wide-eyed perverts customers.

17. B&Q staff told to ‘prepare for increase in demand for cable ties’ in 50 Shades ‘leaked’ memo stunt – February


One of those ‘leaked memos’ that were PR popular a year or two back, telling staff of hardware retailer B&Q to prepare for an increase in cable tie sales as a likely consequence of filthy, filthy Fifty Shades movie fans. Funny, timely and impressively, the PRs behind it managed to get a couple of media bumps out of the same story by outing themselves.

16. Unsuspecting public given Disney surprise as Mickey and Co. set up shop – February

Just lovely. A bit light on calls-to-action (and any real sort of explanation as to why), but oozing in Disney class.

15. Real money frozen into shape of fish in Birds Eye billboard stunt– April


Birds Eye created a giant frozen billboard in London with coins and notes inside to promote its iFreeze iSave campaign, which encourages consumers to use their freezers and reduce their food waste. Hidden inside the ice block was £700 worth of cash in coins and notes – which the average family wastes on food each year, apparently.

As the ice block melted, passers-by were able to collect the money from below the billboard.

14. Carlsberg surprise holidaymakers with free beer on baggage carouselJuly

Proving that people very much like free stuff – especially when that stuff is alcohol, this simple stunt proved very popular at the time. At London City airport, Carlsberg recently surprised holidaymakers at baggage reclaim with free crates of beer on the carousel.

13. ‘A pop up cuddle cafe is coming to London‘ –Februarypost by Three Monkeys’ Inderdeep Gill


This from McVitie’s biscuits. In short, visitors had the chance to drink tea, eat biscuits and take a load off in exchange for hugs.

12. British Airways help public make ‘US trip a reality’ in cool virtual reality stuntJanuary

Oculus Rift headset wielding air hostesses gave members of the public the chance to get as close to US experiences as possible without boarding a plane. Bonus campaign material included that yours truly had a hand in!

11. Hidden ant-sized tickets allowed finders to see Ant-Man in the cinema for free – July

IMAX - Ant-Man Ant-sized ticket promotion - 15 Jul 2015

100 ant-sized IMAX tickets were hidden around three UK cities – London, Manchester and Birmingham, giving finders free entry to see the new movie.

10. Saving lives with Samsung “Safety Trucks”June – post by LSI-TEC’s Johny Ho

A built-in camera was added to the front of a truck, feeding real-time footage of the road to four Samsung screens on the truck’s rear wall. This live film played continuously, making nearby drivers aware of their surroundings, aiming to reduce traffic collisions.

9. Snapchat shares the memories for World Alzheimer’s Day in UAE – September

To mark World Alzheimer Day on the 21st September, Starcom Mediavest partnered with Good Health Arabia and Getty to create a social media Alzheimer awareness campaign in the United Arab Emirates.

The campaign, using the hashtag #MemoriesMatter, was kicked off by broadcasting three Snapchat stories of nostalgic family images, which disappear and are then followed by ‘Alzheimers Erases Your Memories, Let’s Erase Alzheimers’.

8. ‘Emoji people’ spotted in London to promote TalkTalk microsite – May

Emoji face talktalk 2

Tech company TalkTalk created a website that tests your ‘emoji IQ':, which was promoted in this stunt featuring real-life ‘Emoji people’, spotted wandering around London!

7. Box of Snickers sent to Jeremy Clarkson along with note: ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’March

Snickers spotted an opportunity to react to British Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s assault of a show producer for – allegedly – refusing him a hot meal wth its (frankly odd – I’ve never really *got* the idea behind it) brand message ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’.

I’ve made it sound crap. It wasn’t. It was good PR. I could only write in simple sentences that day after a day adding to this mammoth round-up of April Fools’ Day campaigns, too.

6. Brands ride wave of #thedress phenomenon– February – post by Ciaran McCormick


Brand responses to the thing February 2015 will go down in history for – that bloody dress. The best (and most obvious, which is no bad thing) PR response to it all was the dressmaker announcing it would be releasing a white and gold version, too.

5. Harry Potter fans can have Christmas dinner in Hogwarts’ Great Hall this December – September


For one night only, guests were given the opportunity to eat Christmas dinner in Hogwarts’ Great Hall at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, just outside London – for the less-than-magical sum of £230.

4. Dove ‘Choose Beautiful’ Campaign Encourages Women To Be Anything But Average– April – by Three Monkeys’ Inderdeep Gill

Despite being dubbed ‘faux-inspirational, insincere and irrelevant’ by one commentator, this campaign by beauty brand Dove has proved popular. In short, women were made to choose to walk through one of two doors – one with ‘beautiful’ and the other with ‘average’ written across the top. What happened next MIGHT surprise you*.

*I’m joking, obvs.

3. Virgin Trains respond to toilet user’s Twitter pleaJanuaryPost by Bournemouth Uni student Georgia Murray


This happened in early December 2014 – but the PR machine didn’t get behind it until January, when, most likely, a smart PR person spotted it and saw it had legs. In short – Virgin Trains helped one particularly brazen man wipe his bum through the power of Twitter.

2. Interactive magazine cover lets you remove make-up from it– August – post by LSI-TEC’s Johny Ho

Cover with actress in full make-up and the Cover with the make-up removed using the wet-wipes.

Cover with actress in full make-up and the Cover with the make-up removed using the wet-wipes.

Neutrogena conducted an elaborate stunt along with “Caras” magazine, featuring actress/model Giovanna Ewbank in full make-up. Ewbank’s makeup could be removed by the readers using the wet-wipes provided with the magazine.

1. Brands and street signs drop As, Bs and Os from logos to highlight National Blood WeekJune


And finally, the most popular campaign of the year on PRexamples.

In a much-lauded NHS PR campaign, brands, publications and even street signs dropped the As, Bs and Os from their logos, asking the public to ‘fill in the g_ps’.


And that’s your lot this year! Thanks for reading, and please do feel free to share.

Wondering what the top 20 was in other years?

2012 in review

2013 in review

2014 in review

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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

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  • Gareth Jones

    Great post as usual, Rich. *thumbs up*