Welcome to the Will It Stick Podcast with Alexis and Melissa! In today’s episode, they take a look at PR Stunts Gone Wrong. Melissa and Alexis LOVE a good PR stunt. One of their favorites that they executed was for an engagement ring store, Robbins Brothers, where they put out a call for a national job search for one lucky couple to travel across the US to scout the best and most romantic proposal spots in select cities. It was very successful for the brand, resulting in millions of dollars in earned media coverage in just the first few weeks… but not every PR stunt works so well.
The first stunt they discuss is Snapple’s attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records record for the world’s largest popsicle. It melted in the middle of the street and sticky goo covered 17th Street in New York. The popsicle was only able to be erected at a 25-degree angle before Snapple called off the stunt and packed it up. While the stunt was unsuccessful, the PR team for Snapple believes they handled it well, claiming that in terms of brand awareness, there probably wasn’t anyone in America who didn’t know Snapple was launching their popsicle because of the failed stunt.
The next PR stunt gone wrong Melissa and Alexis discuss is American Airlines’ first-class ticket for life. Sixty-Six people purchased their unlimited first-class ticket for $250,000, and many also got the companion ticket for $150,000. One snag in the deal was the companion ticket could be changed at any time. The deal ended up costing American Airlines millions of dollars per year. Some customers ended up having their passes revoked because of the amount of travel and changes in companion passes they made. American Airlines received lots of negative press for this breach of contract.
Finally, they discuss Build-a-Bear’s Pay Your Age Day marketing stunt. This created huge crowds and long lines. This created such an issue that long before the day was over they ended Pay Your Age Day and turned away customers citing safety concerns. The CEO claimed this deal was successful saying it showed the continued interest in their brand and the Build-a-Bear experience. They pivoted to the Count Your Candles promotion that gives kids the ability to pay their age for a bear anytime during their birthday month.
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Take a look at Snapple’s Melted Popsicle.
The New York Time’s Snapple Article
The Hustle’s American Airlines Article
Mashable’s Build-a-Bear Article