2022 was a tough year for the economy. Inflation hit a 40-year high, fuel prices went through the roof and consumer sentiment plunged. Fast forward to today, the USA is teetering on the edge of a recession that is predicted to hit in the second half of 2023.
It’s tough out there. Marketing teams are feeling the pinch — with increased pressure to bring in the results with shrinking budgets. But PR is stepping up. Proving, once again, that publicity really can be what you pray for.
Here are our top picks for PR campaigns in 2023 so far:
1. Tony's Chocolonely, Oxfam, and Glastonbury
If PR campaigns could be emojis, this one would be the chef’s kiss.
The campaign saw two existing partners of the poverty-fighting charity, Oxfam, join forces — the Dutch confectioners on a mission to end slavery in the chocolate industry, Tony’s Chocolonely, and the UK’s largest music festival, Glastonbury.
Let the hunt begin! We've teamed up with @oxfamgb & @glastonbury to giveaway 5 pairs of Glastonbury Festival tickets, hidden within these special bars. Available at Oxfam online or in-store, all profits support Oxfam's poverty-fighting work 🍫💚🎪 Buy now: https://t.co/aRcZvK57z9 pic.twitter.com/Dy3r0M9fpA— Tony's Chocolonely UK & IRE (@TonysChocoUK_IE) April 17, 2023
Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tony’s Chocolonely created a limited edition chocolate bar inside which they hid five pairs of Glastonbury tickets. They sold the bars through Oxfam, with all profits going towards the charity.
Tony’s Chocolonely has taken the UK by storm in the last couple of years, but it is still a relatively new brand. By targeting Glastonbury hopefuls, Tony’s and Oxfam can hope to earn the support of younger consumers for life.
Not only did the scheme cause an influx of new customers to visit Oxfam’s high street shops, but it also created a flurry of social media moments. First, hopefuls shared their search for the bars (they sold out online and in-store). Then, slowly, winners started to pop up, with some sharing their reactions on social media. Who doesn’t dream of a campaign that generates its content?
2. Fenty Beauty at the Super Bowl
In the world of marketing and PR, the Super Bowl rarely disappoints. Rhianna’s 2023 halftime show was no exception.
Showcasing her performance and business excellence, Rhianna chose a moment mid-set to quickly (and literally) powder her nose with a piece from her cosmetics brand, Fenty Beauty. The four-second stunt highlighted how seriously she takes her business outside the music industry — as if we were in doubt. It also landed her big bucks.
According to Cosmetics Business, Google searches for Fenty Beauty increased by 883% immediately following the Super Bowl. Launchmetrics calculated that her performance generated $11.3M Media Impact Value for Fenty Beauty in the week following the Super Bowl. In addition, her lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty earned $4.2M in MIV® in the following week. Not bad for a cheeky product placement.
Want to know how?
3. F*ck Oatly.com
Oatly has had plenty of bad press. In 2018, they caused outrage amongst some vegans when they discovered that Oatly sold their by-products to pig farmers. In 2021, they lost the trademark case they’d bought against small oat milk producers Glebe Farm (it never looks good to take on an independent family business). And, as they promise, a “new scandal is coming soon.”
To help people hate them more, they created www.fckoatly.com. A convenient one-stop shop for anyone wanting to slam them in the comments section of Oatly’s next social media post. Web address too vulgar for your taste? Don't worry. If you don’t like F*ck Oatly, you can head to www.fckfckoatly.com or www.fckfckfckoatly.com.
Oatly published the site in October 2022 but chose not to publicize it. Instead, they waited for it to be discovered organically. It took a while, but by March 2023, social media was exploding the gimmick. Naturally, not everyone was impressed. But it did create a buzz; it gathered media attention and highlighted Oatly’s commitment to transparency (and unusual marketing techniques).
4. Flush your ex
You don’t expect a toilet roll company to run a Valentine’s Day campaign but then Who Gives a Crap is no ordinary toilet paper company.
Back in February, Who Gives a Crap came up with a novel source of loo roll thanks to the Flush your ex campaign. The campaign called on people to send their ex’s love letters to “turn your ex’s promises into something useful” because “nothing says closure like knowing that someone, somewhere, is putting those sweet nothings exactly where they belong.”
Admittedly, it sounds like the creatives behind the campaign might need to go to therapy, but it's nonetheless a brilliant idea. It was unexpected, timely, and highlighted their commitment to recycling.
If only this option had been around when I needed it.
5. Bert's Books
Bert’s Books is a small, independent bookshop in Swindon, UK. With some clever window dressing, they proved that you don’t need a big budget to create a viral PR campaign.
The book sellers shared their tongue in cheek window display on Twitter, landing them international media coverage. It’s a great example of newsjacking — taking advantage of current events to promote your products, brand, or services.
Last year also saw plenty of cracking campaigns. Check out our favorite campaigns of 2022 you’re looking for some inspiration from last year’s best PR campaigns.