When good publicity turns bad

Tucked into the armoury of every marketeer and PR specialist is a good old publicity stunt. Here at Parrot PR and Marketing we love them and have used them effectively for many clients. A properly planned stunt can deliver fantastic results, including media spots, social media sharing, and plenty of water cooler chat.

But what about those companies who don’t plan properly or don’t consider all eventualities?

One fresh example is the recent stunt by children’s favourite Build a Bear. Usually an expensive way to spend 45 minutes, the ‘pay your age’ day (so if you’re four, you pay just £4) generated widespread coverage and a stampede of youngsters wanting to make the most of the short-lived offer to stuff and customise their own bear at an affordable price.

If you haven’t seen the fallout from the day (although it was hard to miss it), the event was completely mismanaged. Queues formed early to be part of this rare occasion, and after waiting for hours it became apparent that Build a Bear could not fulfil its promise, as stores packed out and supplies dwindled. 

Cue crying children, angry parents and a swathe of negative coverage across media outlets and social channels.

Disappointed children were sent home with a voucher to Build a Bear another time, but the ill-feeling towards the company will no doubt remain. Add to this the negative news across the globe (to make matters worse this was an event in the UK and the US) and it’s going to take a long time for Build a Bear to recover.

So how could they have prevented this? Perhaps the offer should only have been available to the first 100 customers at each store with a discount voucher for those turning up later. Or better yet run it on social media and choose a number of lucky winners to come along and pay their age (with a free gift thrown in). And yes, while the team couldn’t have anticipated the huge demand, a properly executed stunt plan would have thought about all eventualities.

If you’re thinking about stunts, or any element of the marketing mix, contact eve@parrotprandmarketing.com today, to see how we can help you. Our squawktastic team can arrange or assist with large and small stunts, events, social media, marketing, PR and content. And our experience and expert planning means we’d never let our clients be the next stunt-related disaster.

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