With the recent publicity stunt gone wrong by NTUC income's "retirement planning announcement" from a Singapore actress and also the past "bad taste" publicity stunts in Singapore such as the "Ulu Pandan Bear Scare" by Philips, the "Raffles Place Army Platoon" by the National Geographic Channel, or the "Vandalised Post Boxes" by SingPost, I bet many marketing managers in Singapore may be scratching their heads and thinking if publicity stunts are worth trying.
Publicity stunt is like a double-edged sword. You can either make it or break it. As simple as that.
In 2014, the Tourism Authority of Thailand funded the "I Hate Thailand" PR campaign showing videos of how a traveller changed his mindset from 'hating' Thailand to appreciating the kindness of the people in Thailand. This "reverse psychology" video turned out to be very successful in many ways. It garnered about one million views on Youtube in 3 days and also tons of media attention worldwide. Eventually, it indirectly "saved" the country's tourism industry substantially from its long fall.
One successful publicity stunt in Singapore was when OneSongOneSingapore, with the help of SMRT, made the authentic and heartwarming video montage of the song "Home". This literally went viral on a good note. So kudos for them!
If a publicity stunt is done right, it will surely garner great marketing results and awareness for your brand. And, yes, the key is about doing it right and how not to fall flat.
Ask yourself these 3 questions
Here are 3 important questions to ask yourself in order to make sure your intended publicity stunt will be doing right.
#1 What emotions will the publicity stunt generate?
Put yourself in the shoes of the public. If you see this, what will you feel? Think of the emotions that the public will feel the moment they see your publicity stunt. Will they feel happy or angry? Loved or betrayed? Excited or think it's crazy?
It is also important to always get a second opinion from a third party, especially if you and your team-mates kept thinking that your publicity stunt will work!
In order to prevent the recent bad publicity stunt of NTUC income from taking place, the actress could have asked the public for their opinions first. For example, she could say, "I had been tasked to advertise for an insurance company. Any suggestions what line I should say for the commercial?"
By getting public their opinions, you will somehow gain their support first and they will more likely accept your publicity stunt thereafter since they already 'endorsed' it in the first place.
#2 Does it look ridiculously "not clever"?
Think thoroughly. If you went through any bad taste publicity stunts, most of them make no sense. And the moment the public finds out that the publicity stunt is no more than just a stunt, it will surely have the potential of drawing excessive flak. The consumers may feel that they were being "tricked".
#3 Do we have a contingency plan?
Be prepared and list the possibilities that the publicity stunt might go wrong. If your team thinks the publicity stunt is still worth doing it, then make sure you have a contingency plan if it does go wrong.
A publicity stunt can be worthwhile doing it if it is a well planned strategy with extensive thought and consideration put into it. Do remember that the consumers are smart, they have emotions, and they will think, therefore it is important to make sure that your publicity stunt is authentic in such a way that it brings the right message to them.
I look forward to the next best publicity stunt soon!
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Jacky Tan is a brand strategist, professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and author. He is also the chairperson and keynote speaker for Marketing Asia Conference 2016. Jacky leads boutique marketing and branding agency 'Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd'.