Beer, billboards and bravery

2015 has seen some shocking PR blunders, but we’ve already named and shamed several of those brands. Fortunately for our faith in marketing, the year has also had its fair share of triumphs. Between the crisis management farces and accidentally racist doughnuts, we have seen some impressive PR activities that deserve a toast. Raise a glass, double-check the eggnog and admire some perfect PR.

By Thomas Roden

#1 J2O: What’s the flavour, Mr Wolf?

A very recent and underrated PR stunt from drinks brand J2O. To promote their new Midnight Editions range, J2O set up an interactive bus stop billboard in London that mimicked the popular What’s the time, Mr Wolf? schoolyard game. If commuters looked at the advertisement, the wolf would remain static. But look away and it would move closer – look away for long enough and you’ll be jumping out of your skin as it smashes its face against the billboard.

It’s an innovative way to play on traditional advertising while also drawing attention to how scary the concept behind a children’s game is.

#2 Hasbro: Money in the box

At some point in our lives, we have all wished our Monopoly banknotes were real, right? This year, Hasbro fulfilled that dream for 80 lucky people when it hid real money in boxes of various versions of the Monopoly game. There was no way to tell whether a box had the money in, so naturally, the stunt resulted in a drive in sales. It seems Hasbro made the right move letting Willy Wonka into the marketing department.

Unfortunately, this campaign ran in February. However, there may be a slim chance that there are still some winning boxes floating around this festive season, just to add to the household-ruining nature of the game.

#3 Carlsberg: If Carlsberg did PR…

…it would probably be the best PR in the world. Actually, Carlsberg does do PR and it stays in line with their slogan’s emphasis on quality. This year, the brand’s ‘If Carlsberg did…’ campaign produced two impressive stunts and both of them employed the same core tactic of giving away free things. After all, what is going to appeal to the typical beer drinker like receiving free beer?

The first stunt was the brand’s ambitious and inevitably successful beer-serving billboard. It is exactly what it sounds like and is probably the first time in recent memory that people have looked away from their phones to pay attention to a billboard.

The second was a surprise tactic, with arrivals at London City Airport in July welcomed by crates of Carlsberg delivered on the baggage carousel. Things could have got awkward if passengers were just getting a connecting flight, but the creative element was there.

#4 Xbox: Survival of the grittiest

The Tomb Raider video game franchise was once hugely popular, but since the turn of the century has been on a rapid decline into near obscurity. When times get tough, marketers should make every effort to restore interest in the brand.

Cue Xbox’s Survival of the grittiest campaign, which saw the brand publicly subjecting eight Tomb Raider fans to more punishment than even previous instalments of the franchise managed. Hoisted up onto a London billboard (it’s been a really big year for billboards), the eight volunteers were forced to endure 24 hours of harsh simulated weather conditions.

Since sadism, while entertaining, isn’t the greatest way of convincing an audience to buy into a brand, Xbox allowed the public to vote for what conditions the volunteers faced next. By letting the public directly interact with the stunt and the brand, they ultimately felt more of a connection with the product.

#5 European Automation: Automation for the people

An award-winning campaign from industrial automation spares supplier, European Automation. It involved launching customer magazine and online knowledge platform AUTOMATED, the new home of objective and exciting interesting insights on hot topics like Industry 4.0, smart factories, obsolescence management, thin computing, pervasive sensing and more. It might not be your regular contender for the top five best PR campaigns of the year, but who are we to argue with the Chartered Institute of PR?


Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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