PR Campaigns – The Good, The Bad and The Viral

September came around super-fast and with it the SBPR team waved a sad goodbye to summer (how is it autumn already?!). With switches from iced-coffee to regular coffee and the addition of scarves to our work wardrobes, the team searched the media for the best and worst PR campaigns out there to warm us up…

This month’s campaigns include a plastic-free PR campaign from Ikea, an innovative hotel campaign which secured a place on the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List and a controversial Brexit stunt featuring Theresa May in a sack!

Buckle your seatbelts…

The Last Straw for Ikea


Since Blue Planet II aired on our screens this time last year, plastic fever has gripped the nation with brands, consumers and corporate organisations taking steps to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics – and we love it! We at Sunny Bird PR love a conscious PR campaign that contributes towards making our planet a better place to live, and that’s why we love this from Ikea.

Ikea unveiled the ‘Last Straw’ display in the London Design Museum following its eradication of single use plastic straws in stores across the UK and Ireland. The installation aimed to act as a reminder of our collective responsibility to strive for zero waste lifestyles. This follows the company’s announcement in June that they intend to phase out all single-use plastic products by 2020.

Ikea accompanied this creative PR tactic with a social media campaign encouraging people to share the small actions they are taking to maintain a more sustainable life, using the hashtag #IKEALastStraw. What actions are you taking to go plastic-free?

Life’s a Beach for Panacea Retreat

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Having recently taken on an exclusive retreat, we thought it would be wise to see what the PR competition looked like elsewhere in the luxury travel market. One such resort catapulted into the UK travel media was the Panacea Retreat in Koh Samui.

As opulent as a Thai island may seem, the resort had some major challenges to overcome if it wanted to attract the affluent British travel market. Specifically, the Panacea Retreat was located on a hill with no direct beach access, wellness venue, children’s club or standalone restaurants outside of the induvial villas.

Not to be deterred, the resort’s PR team devised creative initiatives to turn each one of the hotel’s challenges into a newsworthy story. The inaccessible beach was transformed into a Beach Butler service. Guests selected the best beach for their desires (child friendly, remote, romantic) and were attended to by a butler who was there for their every whim from arranging lounge chairs, gourmet picnics and proffering sunblock.  A bespoke children’s programme was also developed with tailor made experiences from butterfly safari to Thai essential oil perfume making. In addition, a Gentleman’s Getaway was created at the resort’s largest villa featuring a private wine cellar, games room, poker room, boxing ring and infinity pools.

Within a year, these creative concepts had secured the resort a place on the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List as well as features in a plethora of esteemed publications including The Sunday Times, Tatler, Financial Times, Elle, Elite Traveller, Mayfair Times and The Daily Telegraph.

These creative tactics, and consequent media coverage, highlight the power and importance of PR in changing the way a business is perceived.

The Theresa May Sack Race

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We absolutely love this innovative, creative and funny campaign from London-based gym, Gymbox Victoria, who has turned Brexit misery into a promotional opportunity.

This hipster gym is offering exclusive 30-minute classes called ‘Brexfit’, where you can vent your pent-up negativity regarding the current political climate on leading MPs. Trainers hope this unique gym concept will allow you to channel your political frustrations into a calorie-burning workout.

The 30-minute class includes politically themed workout stations including the ‘Politician Punchbag’, (adorned with an image of Boris Johnson), ‘Corbyn Ju-Jitsu Throw’ weight-throwing, ‘The Jacob-Rees Logg Lift’ and ‘The Theresa May Sack Race’.

There is even a Cameron Quitters Corner for those who find it all too hard.


Gymbox spokesman Rory McEntee said: “We actually invited Boris Johnson to attend the class although he would have been bonking mad to turn up. The punchbag with his face on has gotten plenty of action though. While there’s nothing certain about our EU exit we are certain this is London’s best gym class for releasing frustration.”

We love how this gym grabbed onto the toxicity of Brexit – a topic that doesn’t have obvious synergy with a gym – and completely nailed it. So very often, a coattails campaign can seem desperate but this one struck the right chord between humour and…humour.

The gym succeeded in getting noticed for its punchy PR campaign and was featured across the board of London-centric titles and further afield including Metro, Time Out, Scottish Daily Record, AOL Travel UK, Belfast Telegraph, The New European and many more.

The Story Book Activated by Dirt


When looking at creative ideas to get people outdoors and active for one of our clients we came across a PR campaign in Africa by Unilever detergent brand Omo (known as Persil in other markets).

The brand developed what it is called the world's first "dirt-activated" story book for kids, as part of its ongoing "Dirt is Good" campaign.

In a bid to get children outside playing and away from technology, Omo created a book where pages only come to life when smeared with dirt, thanks to a special ink formula from printing specialists Colourtone Aries. Agency Ogilvy South Africa worked with artist Karabo Poppy to create the story, "The Tale of Spots and Stripes." It's a tale about unity, in which a leopard cub and a tiger cub roll around in the mud and then look the same.

The innovative campaign has been featured on Adweek, Campaign Live, PR Examples, AdAge, and Inspiration Weekly.

A Totally Paw-some Campaign!


We absolutely loved this campaign from Pedigree which launched the UK’s first ever digital dog!

Created by communications agency HyperNaked in partnership with Petplan Charitable Trust, Pedigree promoted its annual dog-adoption drive.

The week-long digital campaign encouraged users to take virtual dog Ripley for a web-walk to raise money for dog adoption. Every time a user walked Ripley, Pedigree donated £1 to the adoption drive and Ripley was walked enough for a total of over £100,000 to be raised!

The annual adoption drive aims to save 20 stray or abandoned dogs that are put down every year in the UK, according to charity Dog’s Trust UK.

The innovative campaign was featured in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and was shared across numerous social media channels, including some National Parks and even @lovebournemouthbeach and @lovebournemouth!