Publicity Stunts Still Earn Attention
by Marcia Yudkin
Who says publicity stunts are
passť? Outrageous staged events designed solely
to show up on the evening news still get the job
done when they're clever and fun.
Stan Heimowitz, owner of Celebrity Gems in
Castro Valley, California, recently successfully
dramatized in the streets of San Francisco the
fact that IntraLinux, a small software company -
Heimowitz's client - was challenging Microsoft,
the industry giant.
Outside the Moscone Center in San Francisco,
where Microsoft was launching Windows 2000, a
Bill Gates look-alike was matched against a
Penguin (IntraLinux's mascot) in a boxing ring
whose four corners were held up by Penguinettes.
The Penguin pinned Gates, naturally, while a
plane towing a banner that read "IntraLinux"
This creative bit of street theater made its
point to onlookers and the media alike.
Improve Your Odds for Media Coverage
Discover how to generate dozens of ideas that reporters, broadcasters - and your prospective customers - love. Inject dynamism, relevance
and surprise into your media pitches.
Learn how to distill your message so it captures attention right away, then bolster your credibility and eliminate factors that turn off editors and producers.
Publicity success course.
Publicity success course
Publicity stunts go back at least to the days of
showman P.T. Barnum, who announced his circus'
arrival in town by hitching an elephant to a
plow beside the train tracks. This raised such a
ruckus that a law went on the books in North
Carolina against plowing a field with an
Suspense became an element in a stunt featured
on the front page of the Los Angeles Times in
1980 when the paper challenged Bob Allen to make
good on his boast that he could be dropped into
any city with $100 and 72 hours later own
several properties without paying down payments.
While readers wondered if Allen could really do
it, the author of Nothing Down indeed pulled it
Attention-getting can go high-brow too, as when
actor Norman George, who portrays Edgar Allen
Poe in a one-man show, persuaded the city of
Boston to rename Carver Street, where the
creator of "The Raven" was born, for
the poet in connection with the 180th
anniversary of Poe's birth in 1989.
The same dramatic elements come into play every
year when we have another Take Our Daughters to
Work Day. The media get to shoot colorful,
charming footage of young girls in places they
don't normally visit, and then they can add a
smidgeon of controversy by quoting people who
think girls don't deserve favoritism over boys.
Publicity stunts and milder special events
aren't ever a sure thing. Your parade can get
rained on and a breaking news story elsewhere
can pull the media away. When Massachusetts
retailer Rick Segel sponsored a gala contest for
the Best Hairdresser of Medford, the fur coats
that bore contestants' numbers got switched,
causing prizes to be awarded to the wrong
people. Two judges walked out and fistfights
almost broke out among the hairdressers.
Despite the risks, Stan Heimowitz had such a
hoot with his IntraLinux Penguin vs. Gates bout
that he floated himself as a publicity-stunt
impresario to PR and ad agencies. The whole
event cost just $3,700.00, Heimowitz says,
including the actors and costumes. Compare that
to the cost of a color magazine ad that gets two
seconds of a reader's attention!
Copyright 2000 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
Online Courses Related to Publicity
The Press Release Makeover Course
Marketing for Introverts
Create a Practical Marketing and Publicity Plan