While 2018 had its ups and downs, it was definitely filled with memorable (read: meme-able) PR moments. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite integrated marketing campaigns, company rebrands and unforgettable publicity stunts from the year. Take a look and let us know your favorite moments from 2018 in the comments below.
Discount shoe retailer Payless pulled a fast one on high-dollar influencers in this hilarious marketing stunt. The shoe brand hosted a grand opening of their new (and fake) store for luxury shoes, Palessi. The store was stocked with $20 pumps and $40 dollar boots, but showcased the bargain footwear in a chic and upscale environment. The result? Unknowing partygoers ended up paying about $3,000 in shoes in the first hour, praising the designers and workmanship. When the truth was revealed, it made for some pretty funny reactions from shocked invitees. Payless ended up giving the money back to those who purchased shoes, but this influencer engagement and brand perception stunt will not easily be forgotten.
IHOP’s “rebrand” to IHOB (International House of Burgers) turned out to be one of the most controversial PR stunts of the year. When the famous breakfast chain announced a rebrand to IHOB, the public took to social media to express their outrage. IHOP later revealed the rebrand was fake and was only intended to be a “publicity gimmick” to promote their menu line of burgers. Confused and still a bit triggered, the public didn’t fully accept the brand’s response as closure for the stressful situation. Successful or not, many people and news outlets fell for this stunt – and it definitely got EVERYONE talking about the brand.
The beloved candy brand rolled out a delicious publicity stunt in New York City: the Reese’s Halloween Candy Converter Machine, which allowed people to swap out the candy they didn’t want for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The success of this PR moment speaks for itself – it made people feel good and got the attention of nearly every major national news outlet. Plus, ideas involving chocolate usually win people over.
Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded earlier this year by dropping the second word and opting for a shorter name: Dunkin’. Although the company will make the name change official in January, they have already begun rolling out messaging and branding for the new moniker. This rebrand didn’t come with any major stunts or events, but was still notable enough to make our list.
We couldn’t exclude this heartwarming community relations moment from the list. After forming a special bond with her female UPS driver, six-year-old Parson had the chance to become a UPS driver for the day – and even got her own child-sized UPS truck! Check out this precious video to see the entire story.
This moment with Parson was one of four wishes granted by UPS during November and December as part of the company’s annual Wishes Delivered campaign. We give UPS a thumbs-up for delivering kindness to the communities they serve!
Texas Department of Transportation
Although this story is local to Dallas-Fort Worth, we had to recognize the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for its ability to throw shade while also promoting driver safety. In preparation for the annual Red River Rivalry football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma in Dallas, TxDOT showed support for the home state Longhorns with digital signage on major highways throughout the Metroplex. “Horns Up, Phones Down For Safety” and “Text Later, Not Sooner, Texas Fight” were some of the phrases displayed to DFW-area drivers leading up to the big game. The creativity continued after the game when TxDOT incorporated Texas Head Coach Tom Herman’s famous press conference quote into their signage: “Drive Safe, OK Cool, Hook Em.”
Header photo credit: Mike Mozart via Flickr