October 15, 2012
/ by Brian Conlin
Forget James Bond drinking Heineken instead of Martini; the best product placement happens when switched-on PR people seize real-life news opportunities to insert their brand into the headlines.
This weekend, having flown nearly 123 million miles in space, Space Shuttle Endeavour spent its final journey behind a Toyota Tundra. The 2.5-ton pickup towed the 170,000-pound spaceship over a bridge to the California Science Center where Endeavour is to be retired as a museum exhibits.
With the “Toyota Endeavour” stunt now broadcast, printed and published around the world, we doubt whether any advertising campaign could have had the same impact as this ingenious PR stunt. Here are some other great examples of this newsjacking tactic.
Oakley shades glare for miners
When 33 Chilean miners became trapped in a mineshaft in 2010, it became an international story. Oakley turned the event into $41 million in free advertising. After 69 days with limited sunlight, Oakley reasoned the miners would need protection from the bright sun. So when millions of people tuned in to see the miners, they also saw the miners wearing Oakley’s sunglasses.
Riding wave of iPhone 5 hype
People first began camping outside of Apple stores eight days before the iPhone 5 went on sale on Sept. 21. The wait was worth it, but not just because they were the first to grab the new technology. In New York City, the two at the head of the line used the media attention to promote their social media startup. Gazelle, a purchaser of used electronics, paid for two people’s food, chairs, branded clothing and iPhone 5s as they camped near the front of the line.
LivingSocial ponies up for public transportation
After the Washington Nationals refused to place a deposit to keep the Metro running past midnight on nights it had playoff games this year, LivingSocial decided to foot the bill. The daily deals company was either fully or partially reimbursed depending on the amount of ridership. As fans prepared for Washington D.C.’s first playoff baseball games in nearly eight decades, LivingSocial saw its philanthropy published in numerous local and national media outlets.
Teddy Roosevelt wins with Under Armour
In more than 500 races over seven years, the Washington Nationals mascot version of Teddy Roosevelt had never taken first place. With a successful season coming to a close, people speculated the Nationals might finally let Teddy win one. UnderArmour provided the mascot with a branded headband and running sneakers on Oct. 3, the day Teddy finally won. The race received national coverage and UnderArmour reaped the publicity.
Mini product gets big exposure
A global audience tuned in to watch every part of the 2012 Olympics in London this past summer. Those watching track and field got glimpses of miniature Mini Coopers cruising around the infield transporting javelins back and forth. Though a quarter the size of the actual car, the remote-controlled Minis were visible zipping around the background as people around the world watched various track events.
Procter & Gamble cleans up
After the BP oil spill threatened inhabitants of the Gulf of Mexico, Dawn donated 7,000 bottles of its dishwashing detergent to rehabcenters. The soap is the only one the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends for cleaning animals covered in oil. The soap received tons of publicity, as the media covered all angles of the spill, including the animals affected.
Another Procter & Gamble product, Tide has also helped the Gulf Coast region (as well as others) with its program Loads of Hope. Since 2005, it has done 34,000 loads of laundry for 20,000 families victimized by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, with its efforts are publicized in local media.
Local businesses help bullied teen
Becoming part of a talked-about event may be easier for the biggest brands, but taking part in your community can raise your profile, too. Local companies donated hairstyling, a tiara, and other goods to a Michigan teen elected to homecoming as a prank and received at least passing mentions in national media. No doubt community members saw those businesses in a new light.
Images: ToyotaUK, USFWS/Southeast (Creative Commons)
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