PR Campaigns - The Good, The Bad & The Viral

Between Valentine’s Day, pancake flipping and weather warnings, February seems to have passed in a flurry of headlines and campaigns.

The team has selected their favourite and most effective campaigns of the month, including the much talked about #Chickengate, a romantic fast food feast, Google Trends and another winner from the formidable Tesla team.

KFC Says ‘We’re Sorry’ for Chicken Shortage and They Got Straight to the Point


It’s been a difficult time for KFC. A dramatic chicken shortage kicked off after KFC switched its delivery supplier to DHL on February, 14. DHL blamed "operational issues" for a disruption in deliveries, causing the fast-food chain to close most of its UK outlets, and an eggsplosion of press interest. Following a week of national outcry, KFC ran the ad above (created by Mother London) in both The Sun and the Metro on February 23

Keeping the sense of humour that has characterised KFC’s communications throughout the fiasco so far, the ad rearranges the letters of its name to spell out "FCK" on a chicken bucket. Text below the image reads:

"We’re sorry. A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal," before apologising to inconvenienced customers and thanking KFC employees. "It’s been a hell of a week, but we’re making progress." 

The ad points viewers to a website with more information about the status of local restaurants. The header of the site reads, "The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants." Ok so this is a bit of a transition from PR to advertising, but the advert in turn became the talking point in the news. The story angle moved from being “what a disaster for KFC” to “aren’t KFC jolly clever and witty and wasn’t that a funny advert”.

Celebrities started talking about it online, and positive coverage flowed. With KFC continually in the news for days, we have all been craving Zinger Twister wraps like never before and we are sure we are not the only ones. It is also an example of tackling an issue head on and honestly, which goes down much better with consumers than trying to ignore it or bury it.

Whilst using humour to deal with problems isn’t always appropriate, in this instance KFC seem to have got the balance right, and it certainly tickled our feathers. KFC’s problems may not have gone away completely (a gravy shortage was reported subsequently), and their helpline staff are presumably eggshausted, but hats off to KFC for not cracking up completely in a fowl situation.

This One is for All the Pasty Lovers Out There

The clamour of companies vying for a piece of commercial love pie leading up to February 14th can be overwhelming for the consumer and challenging for the company trying to be heard. One campaign that cut through all the noise and really stood out for us was this inspired effort from Greggs.



Greggs is known for its humour and press worthy campaigns (remember the baby sausage roll Jesus in the Greggs nativity scene?!) and this one is no exception.

The nation’s favourite bakers teamed up with OpenTable to offer couples a unique date experience on Valentine’s Day with select branches opening up for the 14th as specialist Greggs restaurants. The lucky lovebirds who managed to get a table were treated to roses, candlelight, four-course (pastry-based) dining, and even table service all for the very reasonable price of £15.

The campaign was a big hit in the five cities where the Greggs restaurants opened, generating a plethora of coverage in Manchester, London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Newcastle. The national press also picked this up thanks to its quirky nature - with stories everywhere from the Independent and to The Sun. It's even captured financial journalists' hearts, with the Mirror Money team pointing out the inclusion of pudding and prosecco in the bargain price.

What we really liked about this campaign was its relative ease from Greggs perspective; it wouldn’t have cost much to execute and it generated so much publicity that it definitely delivered a great return on investment for them. We also like it because it’s fun and because we love pasties and wish we’d been the ones taken there for Valentine’s Day. Hope our loved ones are reading and taking notes for next year.

A Masterclass in Utilising Google Trends

A company which did a great job of tapping in to trending topics recently was sleep app Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories. Using the readily available Google Trends tool, it revealed that Google searches of “child won’t sleep” hit a worldwide peak at the start of January.



On the back of this, it asked 2,205 parents from the UK and the US about the weirdest ways they get their children to sleep. The best answers were collated in a press release along with an expert comment on the reasons for disrupted sleep in January, plus some tips from the NHS website on more conventional methods of ensuring your little ones get a full night’s shuteye.

While the expert advice certainly added value, it was the surveyed parents’ unusual bedtime methods that hit the headlines. Some of the top answers were “Watch a video of a crossword puzzle tournament”, “Play a recording of a chapter from an 18th Century Scottish economics book, read by a really boring teacher” and the top contender “Explaining to your child the infrastructure plans of China’s leader, Xi Jinping”!

Clearly a topic at the forefront of sleepless parents’ minds everywhere, the quirky answers helped this feature reach the readers of online news giants BBC News and The Times. The result was fantastic coverage for a clever campaign, utilising some publicly available assets.

Tesla Created the World's Best Car Commercial Without Spending a Dime



Without spending any money on marketing, Tesla has created the world's best car ad.

When Elon Musk needed ballast to complete testing on his Falcon Heavy SpaceX rocket, he could have used concrete. Instead – in a stroke of PR genius – the billionaire chose to launch his own Tesla Roadster, complete with David Bowie’s Space Oddity playing on repeat, into final orbit around the sun.

The launch was designed to show that Musk’s rocket could transport cargo for future clients and eventually carry people and supplies to Mars.

But Musk's inclusion of a Roadster in the rocket was not a coincidence. While Musk said he was using the Roadster because it would be less "boring" than traditional test payloads, there was most likely more to the decision.

In the months before Falcon Heavy's launch, Musk and SpaceX posted several carefully arranged photos of the Roadster to imply that the car — and Tesla by extension — were symbols of human ambition and technological progress.

But the real payoff came once the rocket reached space and viewers of SpaceX's livestream were treated to stunning views of Earth as the Roadster travelled toward Mars.

Even though the car overshot its intended trajectory, thousands of people gathered in Florida to watch the launch, and the stunt led to thousands of news articles worldwide.

Musk and his team seems to have taken the idea that ‘the sky is the limit’ literally.

What better way to publicise the fact that Musk’s super-rocket has twice the launching power of any other existing space-launch vehicle?