The Fame Game: A Mark Zuckerberg look-alike, Christmas in a can and lighting up the Sky Tower

Special PR’s Head of PR & Influence, Kelly Grindle, selects five of the most attention-grabbing campaigns that made a big difference for their respective brands.

Have a submissions for December’s column? Email [email protected]

Tourism Iceland roasts Mark Zuckerberg

Tourism Iceland has proven just how quick you need to be to capitalise on the news agenda.

A Mark Zuckerberg look-alike skewered the virtual reality of Facebook’s Metaverse with a tongue-in-cheek content piece that effectively promoted Iceland’s breathtaking beauty and iconic blue lagoons.

The “Icelandverse” was a masterclass in parody that gave would-be travellers tips on how to connect with the world without “being super weird.”

Awkward, somewhat creepy, but brilliantly simple.

The stunt is the latest in a series of work from Tourism Iceland, including their iconic “scream into the abyss” and “TrueView” campaigns that have built a consistent global tourism brand with a quirky and humorous approach to travel marketing.

What’s impressive here is not just the creative execution, but the sheer speed with which it was delivered. 

This landed global headlines five days after Facebook’s own announcement, which shows just how nimble a contemporary tourist board needs to be to compete in this cut-throat industry.

Live Your Free

As an industry, we often bang on about using activations to build existing brand platforms.

This month RTD brand Long White managed to do that in a way which just felt… right.

They interpreted their “Live Your Free” platform in a way that was cleverly linked to the month’s biggest news topic: our MIQ facilities.

One band, one truck and three MIQ facilities saw Long White bring a taste of summer and 15 minutes of fun to fellow Kiwis stuck in the confines of the MIQ system, with what the brand claims is the first live rock n’ roll performance in more than three months.

Whilst I’d argue that the execution itself could have done with some more finesse and polish, it was undoubtedly a smart activation that successfully tapped into a cultural moment.

Crucially, it allowed Long White to celebrate their brand purpose of helping Kiwis spend more of their time living free – and judging by the excitement of the dead-eyed residents behind the walls of the MIQ facilities they managed to bring a much-needed taste of that freedom.

Fun, freedom, sunshine and Long White on the menu this summer please.

A ‘lucky couple’ got married at a Taco Bell

Okay, okay, okay… yes… this type of PR campaign risks falling into the category of cringe-worthy publicity. The type that sustains tabloids worldwide and makes most of the industry moan – but hear me out.

US fast-food giant Taco Bell has stores all over the world. But only one of them offers weddings – their Las Vegas flagship.

That is, until Taco Bell reached Rotovegas. 

To celebrate the launch of Taco Bell in Rotorua, the company threw a wedding for Tarryn & Josh (who must really love Tacos), and nabbed a $5,000 honeymoon from radio partner The Edge.

Does it make me want to eat Taco Bell?  No. Do I wish I could be invited to a Taco Bell wedding? No. Do I know that Taco Bell is in Rotorua? Yes.

They’ve managed to leverage a clever insight about the global company and turn a non-event such as a regional outlet launch into column inches.

To put this into context, I’ve lived through PR activations in the UK where a man dressed as a pizza, got married to woman dressed as a pie, to celebrate Domino’s Pizza Pie union.

So don’t worry, the New Zealand PR industry still has a way to fall.

Christmas dinner, coming right up Heinz

For many average cooks out there (myself included) Christmas dinner is the most stressful meal of the year.

But Heinz has come to the rescue in the UK with the launch of their “Christmas dinner in a can.” The soupy dinner contains hearty chunks of food including turkey, pigs in blankets, brussels sprouts, stuffing balls, potatoes, gravy and a cranberry sauce.

Sounds like it will be a Christmas hit, right? 

Hell no.

That’s why Heinz has only released 500 cans with a non-committal tease that it will be repeated in 2022 if it proves a hit with shoppers.

This idea is smart for two reasons.  Firstly, Heinz linked the product launch as a sure-fire way to guarantee a Christmas dinner in light of the chronic food shortages rolling through the UK.

Secondly, they’ve produced halo awareness for the wider product line-up which is arguably much more appealing – and needed – for a Christmas dinner.

When you’ve got respected media outlets such as The Guardian and The Independent reporting on the limited edition product, you know you’ve managed to cut through the Christmas clutter – and saved the millions competitors spend on expensive Christmas ads.

One ‘giant prick’ for Auckland, one small step for vaccinations

SkyCity, TBWA and New Zealand Herald teamed up to transform the Sky Tower into a giant needle to celebrate the fact New Zealand had reached the 80% vaccination benchmark.

The 328-metre-tall building was bathed in a turquoise blue with “WE’RE REACHED THE POINTY END” emblazoned onto its side.

This is arguably one of the most effective forms of OOH you could ask for, which caught my eye from my own house 3 kilometres away in Kingsland.

It was underpinned by a strong news moment – a reference point that we were all collectively invested in – and was supported by a roll-out of strong editorial on how we could inch towards the magical 90% target.

While projection mapping or lighting up landmarks might not be the most original creative idea, I don’t think that matters.

This was superbly executed, it was activated in partnership with multiple brands, and once again it was a dramatisation of a real news moment.

A PR campaign with purpose, because I for one am looking forward to vaccinated summer adventures.

convinced the creative class of London to try something new for a change.

For more from Kelly and The Fame Game, click here.

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