PR Campaigns - The Good, The Bad & The Viral

As another month whizzes by at Sunny Bird HQ, and we hope the good weather is here to stay, we look back at some of the best and worst PR campaigns we came across.

This month’s round up of thought-provoking campaigns include a tear-jerking Father’s Day stunt, a harrowing street art installation, and a clever anti-social media campaign.

‘Go Ask Dad’


Father’s Day is still a very important date for brands despite it not gaining a fraction of the traction compared to the Mighty Mother’s Day. For a ‘male’ brand it’s an important peg for PR Campaigns that needs to be carefully thought out and executed to return the best results.

Having looked at a few Father’s Day campaigns, it was this one from Gillette that won us over in the office. The big-name razor brand created a truly heart-warming campaign that tackled the issue of sons not asking their dads for advice in this digital age.

Research by Gillette found that 84% of guys say their go-to source for information is their phone and only 13% go to their dads. To prove that dads still know best, Gillette set up a simple yet effective stunt, they invited father and son duos to a studio to film their reactions to a new AI app. The sons were in one room trialling this new app and were told to ask it for advice whilst the dads were in another room. As each son asked the ‘app’ for advice it was actually the father replying through the phone speaking as the app. The sons’ reactions were priceless with many saying how great the advice was. Afterwards, fathers and sons were reunited with some emotional scenes which certainly brought a tear to a few eyes in the office.

This Father’s Day campaign did really well getting featured in industry news as well as top sites such as Huff Post and Mashable.

Suicide Sculptures

Last month saw a poignant PR campaign make national headlines as CALM, the charity that works to prevent male suicide, installed 84 sculptures of men on top of the ITV Tower. #Project84 positioned the figures, complete with hoods over their faces, standing on the edge of the building on London’s Southbank to raise awareness of the number of men who take their lives every week.


Simon Gunning, chief executive at CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), explained: "A non-traditional media route with physicality… gets an impact that you just can't get from any other kind of campaign.

"Seeing it on a screen would be a very fleeting experience and I think it would be impossible for people to understand the humanity in each of those statues. It’s that physical impact that’s jarred people."

The sculptures were created by American artist Mark Jenkins, who is renowned for his street art installations, with the support of bereaved friends and families who had lost loved ones to suicide.

The hard-hitting project was supported by ITV show This Morning across three days of programming dedicated to male suicide. It achieved widespread coverage in almost every national newspaper along with 150 million social media impressions and 32,000 uses of the hashtag #Project84.

The PR campaign also helped the charity gather more than 156,000 signatures for a petition to push for ministerial responsibility for suicide prevention.

Tesco’s Father’s Day Tannoy Takeover


Tesco were aware that in amongst the hype of the Olympics, the Euro’s and the generally busy Summer, Father’s Day can often get a little lost and be viewed as a low-key event. Statistics highlighted that just 16% said they do something special on the day with a much lower spend for Father’s Day compared with Mother’s Day.

This clever yet warming campaign by Tesco encouraged customers to record a personalised message to show their dads how much they care. The recording was then played in the store over the Tannoy whilst they were shopping.

This campaign was dubbed as a Facebook ‘thumb stopper’ and spread virally to TV channels, Social Media platforms and YouTube, racking up 602,946 views. The video generated 45million overall impressions and more than 17,000 shares. We particularly liked this campaign as although it was low budget, it was an emotive and personal campaign which saw dads in tears. It is not a surprise that this was put forward for the Shorty Awards for Branded Content.

Thanks to the rapid and brilliant response, Tesco then gave customers the option to go to the website and book their own slot to record their message to be played. Furthermore, Tesco sought to provide ‘additional value’ in the form of three tips; the first being a calendar reminder to plan something special for the day, the second, a link to the Tesco Real Food website to view Father’s Day themed recipes and the final tip, a link to Tesco Direct where customers could view and purchase pre-selected gifts for the special day.

Zova Creates a Great Feature… But is Completely Off Brand


We are in two minds about this next campaign. When we came across it, we were instantly drawn to its headline: “Dessert queen with 500,000 fans reveals how you can bake the perfect cake every time – and the secret to getting FIVE times as many servings out of your creations.”

We love a ‘top tip’-style feature as these often leave the reader feeling like they have gained something valuable from their afternoon browse, whether it be useful gym tips, quirky facts to drop in at the pub quiz or baking best practice. This feature is no different, suggesting that cakes should be cooled upside down, cut length-ways rather than in triangles and slathered in jam for a glossy, moisture-locking finish. The crux, however, comes at the end:

Katherine is the latest celebrity guest on Zova's Celebrity Classes, which is a weekly HIIT class provided through an app with the help of expert trainer, Vix Burdon.

While this is a lovely feature – good enough for the MailOnline to share with its two million readers – we just don’t see the benefit for the brand. Of course, people can be into both baking and exercise, but chances are slim that someone browsing for cake inspiration is in the mindset of downloading a fitness app.

Perhaps if Dessert Queen Katherine had made a point about the importance of balancing indulgence and exercise, or one of the tips had been of a health-conscious nature, we could have seen the relevance. But this was sadly absent, and we doubt Zova saw any new downloads as a result.

Wetherspoons Bucks the Trend


Pub chain Wetherspoons hit the headlines this month when it announced it is quitting social media. The ground-breaking news was covered by major news titles in the UK from The Sun to the FT, in news and in comment pages, not to mention Forbes and the Wall Street Journal in the US. Specifically, the chain said (via Twitter and other places) that it is closing all its accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

There were a number of reasons this was such a timely story. The rights and wrongs of social media are being hotly debated. Companies, individuals, governments, charities, politicians and everyone else are continuing to work out how we use social media in the most effective way, so to completely go against the flow and quit it completely is an interesting news angle. In fact, the success of Wetherspoons on social media is questionable. It was not exactly making waves as an influencer and it was struggling to maintain consistency across its more than 900 accounts.

Many are questioning whether others will follow suit, but we highly doubt it. Around 500 million tweets are sent every day, with millions of other individual users and businesses gaining a huge amount through well thought-through and carefully executed social media strategies.

Social media is a constantly-evolving feat, and it seems that Wetherspoons had developed a social media policy that simply wasn’t working for them. But whatever the full reasons behind the decision to change tack, it was a smart move to gain a ton of positive media coverage announcing it.