Every day we are bombarded by over 3,000 branding messages trying to grab our attention. When one sinks in, it makes you think: “how did they do that?”

True brand marketing genius is when you break through the clutter and make your brand newsworthy and social network friendly. If you do it well, it’s like getting millions of dollars in free advertising.

At Say What!, we have been watching for those PR stunts that spiked social media traffic and converted it into international news coverage. Our hats go off to an energy drink on the edge of space, a dog in the driver seat in New Zealand and 5 guys on one guitar in Canada. Look and learn from these breakout stunts and you could be on our list for 2013.

Bronze Medal for Top PR Stunt of 2012
You’ve likely seen or heard about this video. “Walk off the Earth” performed a cover of Goyte’s “Somebody That I Use to Know” with 5 people playing this amazing song on one guitar. This five-piece band from Burlington, Ontario did the almost-unimaginable: they created a unique video that hit over 35 million YouTube views in under two weeks!

The viral success catapulted them to an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show and gained the attention of Capital Records, who signed the talented band. Since then they have been touring the world, recording their first album and continuing to release some of the most entertaining music videos to hit YouTube.

Amazing what a cover song can do with the right spin. That is PR genius. Congratulations and well done W.O.T.E!

Silver Medal for Top PR Stunt of 2012
Did this happen to you? In November you saw a video clip of some strange animal friendly society in New Zealand that had been training dogs to drive cars. The story spread like wildfire, and was everywhere from television to radio to every type of social network. Perhaps you, like many people, actually got emotional about how unsafe and ridiculous the idea was.

Then you found out that is was really part of a clever media campaign to change the public misconception about rescue dogs, and increase adoptions from the Aukland SPAC. And you said WOW!

The tagline “Dogs this smart deserve a second chance” sums up the program. It climaxed with a 10-month old Beardie Cross named Monty becoming the first dog to drive 70 metres on a track by himself. This campaign was a partnership between Mini and the Auckland SPAC and is still making headlines.

Why would someone in Toronto want to know about adopting rescue dogs in Aukland? We wouldn’t, but now we do. When a media message becomes part of our newscape, all you can ask yourself is “how can I do that”? Bloody brilliant!

Gold Medal for Top PR Stunt of 2012
When an energy drink company morphs into an entertainment company by inventing new extreme events on a global basis… you have to say “that is sure marketing genius!” And our top marks go out to Red Bull for inventing a new category of marketing superstardom.

On Oct 14, 2012 Felix Baumgartner broke three world records thanks to Red Bull Energy Drink. The first record was by becoming the first human to break the speed of sound in a freefall by surpassing speeds of 833.9 mph. He also became the world record holder for the world’s highest manned balloon flight at 39,045 meters along with the highest freefall.

As amazing as these feats are, the most amazing aspect is how it catapulted Red Bull from a beverage producer into a media machine. They created compelling content that was totally on brand with the “Red Bull Gives you Wings” positioning. This took branding to the stratusphere and back and defined Red Bull’s place in marketing history by thinking big and way beyond the range of normal.

Congratulations Red Bull, you are the winner of the Say What! Gold Medal for Top PR Stunt of 2012.

What an exciting year 2012 was for media stunts and marketing. There are so many incredible candidates we had to narrow it down to our top three choices.

Let me know your thoughts on these and other PR Stunts that caught your attention.

Cheers grant

Grant Ivens, RGD
brand surgeon | rocket scientist
Say What! Communications Corp.
116A Main St North, Markham, ON, Canada L3P 1X8
T 905.752.3110 grant@saywhat.com