The Fame Game: Snoop Dogg goes smokeless, a towel troll, and the science behind beer

Special PR’s Head of PR & Influence, Kelly Grindle, selects five of the most attention-grabbing campaigns that made a difference this month. 

IKEA trolls Balenciaga

Aaaaah, IKEA, you saucy little Swedish meatball… you’ve done it again with reactive newsjacking at its finest.

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga launched its new collection and raised a few eyebrows with its USD $1,250 towel skirt – complete with an adjustable belt and a somewhat dubious-looking model.

IKEA in the UK, never one to miss an opportunity, jumped on the news with an alternative promotion for its Vinarn Towel Range retailing at only USD $30 (which can also be worn as a skirt if you so desire).

This isn’t the first time IKEA has taken a pop at Balenciaga, highlighting their $0.99 carry bags bore a striking resemblance to the $2,000 alternative the fashion house launched in 2017.

This is brilliant reactive trolling – and continually lands the strategic point for IKEA that good style doesn’t have to break the bank.

I’ve been trying to figure out who is representing IKEA for PR in New Zealand (so if anyone knows, feel free to slide into my DMs).  This is one of the most iconic PR brands in the entire world, and their New Zealand representation has the opportunity to be as bold, creative, reactive and daring as the global market – here’s hoping they do us proud!

Snoop Dogg gives up the smoke (or did he?)

Earlier this month, Snoop Dogg stunned the world with a proclamation that he was “giving up smoke”, which everyone interpreted as an announcement he was quitting weed.

To say it generated attention was an understatement – he was the top trending name on Twitter for two days straight, hit media outlets across the globe from BBC to CNN, and was debated in countries as far-flung as India to Iceland.

But was it all as it seemed?  Fast forward a few days and the rapper clarified that he was giving up smoke from fire pits by partnering with fire pit brand Solo Stove – and the marijuana was there to stay.

In an official press release from the brand, they stated: “Solo Stove has since announced that Snoop Dogg will be their official ‘smokesman,’ in support of the company’s quest to eliminate smoke from backyards everywhere.”

This is bloody clever – a largely unknown brand has managed to create global headlines, talkability and clear product messaging with a prank. 

Celebrity endorsement is nothing new, but so many of them are boring:  just think of the random use of Karl Urban by Whittaker’s, or the obscure use of Stephen Flemming to promote Fujitsu heat pumps.  They didn’t have creative tailored to a celebrity, they just used a celebrity for celebrity’s sake and that’s partly why those campaigns fell a bit flat.

Solo Stove is different… which makes me wonder how many Americans will enjoy a smoke around a smokeless fire-pit this winter season?

Science can now choose your beer

Heineken has unveiled their biggest product launch in a decade, with the arrival of Heineken Silver – a low-carb alternative which the brewery promises is “smoother” tasting.

But, what exactly does “smooth” tasting mean?

They worked with Auckland University geneticist Andrew Shelling to find out – commissioning him to produce “The Heineken Choice.”

Using a PTC test to detect sensitivity to strong flavours, the limited edition kits helped Kiwis discover the science behind what makes them love a particular flavour and not others.

By placing the strip on your tongue for 15 seconds, those who taste nothing will prefer the slightly bitter flavour of Heineken Original, and those who detect a metallic taste will prefer the smoother option of Heineken Silver.

Hundreds of these limited test kits were distributed to bars across the country; helping to stimulate on-premise conversations around which Heineken is right for you.

This is a clever way to turn the strategic commercial challenge into a PR campaign: effectively using the launch of Heineken Silver to promote both brands, educating the country on their differences.

Whether I’ve personally needed science to tell me to drink a beer remains to be seen, but at least this gives me an excuse to crack a Heineken Silver.

Les Mills just gifted gym memberships to an entire city

Les Mills has opened a state-of-the-art gym in Dunedin – and launched a promotion that offers a free gym membership to every single person in the city.

While I try to avoid writing about promotions in this column, I think it’s worth highlighting the genius of this tactic. 

Les Mills already offers limited-edition trials, but by expanding that trial period to a month-long membership and wrapping it as a gesture of goodwill to the city, they’ve managed to land headlines across the country.

Furthermore, Les Mills can be perceived as quite an intimidating brand – like, you gotta have an eight-pack of abs before you even walk in the door. 

That’s certainly an outdated perception, and Les Mills is working hard to address it through their Live Forward proposition – with activations such as this helping to position the brand as more inclusive and welcoming.  After all, the offer is for everyone in Dunedin – regardless of whether you’ve got an eight-pack or a keg.

Simple launch mechanic, with great brand benefit, direct commercial impact, and of course a tonne of clickable headlines. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Pizza you can pay for when you’re dead?

This could quite possibly be my favourite campaign all year….

We’ve all seen the rise of buy-now, pay-later companies; and we’ve certainly heard about a whole generation of Kiwi who are struggling under a mountain of debt.

Well, now Hell Pizza has got in on the act:  offering a ‘buy-now, pay-later’ service in the most extreme form.

AfterLife Pay from Hell Pizza allows you to buy a pizza now, and pay for it when you die by making a legal online amendment to your will.

Media went nuts not only here in New Zealand, but around the world with heavyweight articles from the likes of The Washington Post spotlighting the new initiative.

This is so cleverly tied to Hell Pizza’s brand DNA and history, and generated hundreds of engagements from people amending their wills… all for a $25 pizza.

It will be interesting to see what happens when these indebted Kiwi begin to die… will Hell suddenly appear like the Debt Reaper, leaching $25 bucks out of our dearly beloved Karen?  Let’s wait and see.

Industry submissions for the column are welcome:  [email protected]

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Kelly Grindle is Head of PR & Influence at Special PR.

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