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Three PR Stunts to Love Right Now
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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PR stunts are dicey. The may not work. They may go nowhere. Or they may ruin your reputation. However, when done well, they can transform a brand or create a huge upsurge in sales. Here are three to celebrate.

There’s no such thing as too much pasta

Olive Garden has scored a hit with its “never-ending Pasta Bowl pass," which allows ticketholders to enjoy the restaurant’s carbs as many times as they like every single day during its September 22 to November 9 promotion. The deal also includes unlimited soft drinks for the pass-holder and everyone at the table.

The $100 golden tickets went on sale at 3 pm on September 8 and sold out in two hours. Only 1,000 tickets were available, creating a frenzy of exclusivity.

Olive Garden can use the push right now, as its sales have suffered during the recession. Owned by Darden Restaurants Inc., Olive Garden has reaped thousands of dollars of free publicity through its endless pasta stunt. And while some coverage will inevitably focus on the fat and salt in its Pasta Bowls, people are now talking about a restaurant that was barely on our lips only a moment ago. For a very lucky few, that’s more than a moment on the hips.

Look out below

Not all clients have an endless pot of cash to spend on one PR stunt, but there is a brand that may have come close. And that is Jaguar, which spent a reported $6.5 million launching its new XE sports saloon model in London.

More than 3,000 invited guests and celebrities were treated to a concert at Earls Court arena featuring the Kaiser Chiefs, with performances from Eliza Doolittle, the Royal Ballet, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The brand then showed a film with plant employees gathering to form the letters "XE," while the Red Arrows (the Royal Air Force acrobatic team) flew past as the car was airlifted by helicopter to begin its journey to London.

Once in London, the helicopter took the new XE along the Thames as far as Tower Bridge before it was loaded on to a speedboat to continue along the river to Chelsea Harbour.

During the river journey, the singer Emeli Sandé performed a live new track called "Feels Like" on a floating stage in the middle of the Thames with the London Eye as a backdrop and 300 fans looking on from a nearby boat with red flares in the background.

But that wasn’t enough for the legendary automaker. The car made the last leg of its journey escorted by two 1960s Mark II Jaguar police cars, with an honor guard greeting of six manufacturing robots.

Sure beats a visit by the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at your local WalMart.

IKEA has a sense of humor

The ubiquitous Swedish furniture maker made a play on the frenzied wait for Apple’s new iPhone launch by introducing its own form of long-awaited "technology": the "bookbook."

The clever IKEA video, narrated tongue-in-cheek by "Chief Design Guru" Jorgen Eghammer, outlines the magical qualities of its catalogue.

“Once in a while, something comes along that changes the way we live,” the advertisement begins.

“A device so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar.”

“Introducing: the 2015 IKEA catalogue.

'The first thing to note is no cables — not even a power cable,” Jurgen continues. “The 2015 IKEA catalogue comes fully charged and the battery life is eternal.”

“If you find something you want to save for later, simply bookmark it,” he says, as a model demonstrates by turning down the top corner of the page. 

The stunt is brilliant at focusing on one of life’s simple – and perhaps forgotten – pleasures, and that is leafing through the IKEA catalogue and dreaming of creating endless new roomscapes.

Evocative, funny, and sarcastically aspirational: IKEA’s catalogue launch has hit just the right note.


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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