Starship PR Enterprise: Captain’s log

When the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival introduced a PR category to this year’s awards, who would have guessed that the inaugural accolade would go to an ad agency?

The PR Lions 16-strong jury, headed by Lord Tim Bell of Chime Communications, a man often referred to as ‘the third Saatchi’, awarded the prize for Best International PR Campaign to Australian advertising agency CumminsNitro for its ‘Best Job In The World’ strategy for Tourism Queensland.

Tourism Queensland wanted to launch a new brand, the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, to global experience seekers across eight international markets.

The way in which CumminsNitro responded to that brief was breathtakingly simple.

They created ‘The Best Job in the World’—a genuine opportunity with Tourism Queensland where recruitment was driven via PR coverage, as well as online job sites and small display ads directing traffic to islandreefjob.com. The results were spectacular, the media coverage has been estimated at over $US100 million from a campaign budget of US$1.2 million.

Youtube Video

The Kiwi Riviera

In New Zealand we have followed the trend acknowledged at Cannes. The recent establishment of a new CAANZ marcomms committee and the introduction of a new Effies category—Effective Use of PR/Experiential in a Marketing Campaign—are both timely and appropriate. That is because both these crucial components are part of the wider communications mix and are increasingly being used by marketers, adding value to the bottom line for brands and business.

The remit of the marcomms committee is simple. We exist to highlight and develop the value of PR and experiential services – something that we believe will benefit the industry enormously. We also believe there’s room for both the CAANZ marcomms committee and PRINZ, the more traditional organisational body dedicated to championing public relations and providing ongoing learning opportunities for consultants.

But let’s be clear.

This is not about different disciplines or different media channels. It’s about the potency of the idea and how it resonates with consumers, communities and stakeholders. It is also not about, as some in stand-alone PR consultancies might claim, making an unnecessary push for a conveniently ‘integrated’ ad solution.

It’s about acknowledging the power of creative concepts, driven through clever PR and experiential campaigns that spark substantial conversations and great outcomes.

Notable stunts

Air New Zealand’s ‘cranial billboard’ campaign by Mango is a great illustration of news-making PR. In September 2008 Air NZ offered $1000 for people to shave their heads and get a temporary tattoo emblazoned on the back announcing changes to Air NZ’s domestic check-in. They did the same thing a month later in California to promote international flights down under. Each cranial billboard was a walking advertisement for two weeks.

Air NZ Cranial Billboards

The Fresh ’n Fruity ‘Dunkathon’ initiative involving Hollywood stuntwoman Zoe Bell was executed by ELEVEN\PR as part of the Big Night In Telethon last month.

Fresh n Fruity zoe bell 1Fresh n Fruity zoe bell 2

Taking Colenso BBDO’s overarching Fresh ‘n Fruity campaign concept of representing what happens when fruit and yoghurt collide, the stunt involved Bell dressed as a strawberry and jumping off the Sky Tower into a massive Fresh ‘n Fruity yoghurt pot. It resulted in nearly half a million dollars worth of media coverage on the back of a modest spend.

To boldly go

The committee will be looking at relevant professional development courses for marcomms agencies, clients and other CAANZ members, just as PRINZ does. What hasn’t been done yet by more traditional public relations practitioners, however, is fully acknowledge the changes taking place throughout the industry that have seen work like CumminsNitro’s ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign garner such critical acclaim.

The days of simply bashing out a well-worded release to the press, publishing a white paper or organising a press conference are long gone. There’s still a place for them, but if you want to reach and influence people, you’re going to have to engage more methods than these.

The members of the CAANZ marcomms committee acknowledge that there are entirely new fields of media and communication that brands should be a part of and more and that more companies are leaning heavily on PR spend.

The goal shared by chair Claudia Macdonald (Mango), myself and the other founding members is to celebrate the idea (no matter where it comes from) and highlight the importance of providing measurement, value and strong ROI along the way.

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