Gini Dietrich

Old PR Stunts Don’t Drive Sales

By: Gini Dietrich | September 14, 2011 | 
164

If you regularly read Spin Sucks, it won’t come as a surprise to you that I’m a really big believer in using PR and marketing to build income (and, in some cases, profits and higher margins).

Measuring results has become even easier during the past five years and, because of that, we have to stop doing things that grab media attention, but don’t make sense for the brand nor drive sales.

It’s our responsibility to measure results; it’s not the responsibility of our clients or our executives.

Our responsibility.

That’s why, when I see things like the following news segment with the Guinness Book of World Records-seeking World’s Finest Chocolate, I go a little nuts.

In fact, when Patti Knight brought it up in our staff meeting, I said, “Hello World’s Finest Chocolate? 1980 called and wants their PR stunt back.”

Before we talk about why this stunt won’t work, go ahead and watch the video. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you.

(Click here to watch if you can’t view in your RSS feed.)

I’ll give them that the stats are pretty impressive: 12,000 pounds of chocolate that is 21 feet long. And they’ll win the record (or have won it). Pretty cool.

But answer me this:

  • Why is a “Think Big, Eat Smart” campaign coming from a chocolate bar company?
  • Why is a chocolate bar company talking to kids about portion control?
  • Why is a chocolate bar company that has nothing healthy in it talking to kids about eating smart?
  • How is this going to help them sell more chocolate? As Patti said, “I love chocolate, but this makes me sick to my stomach.”
  • How does this kind of media attention help them?
  • Is it disturbing to anyone else that they said, “Once we have their attention, we’ll talk to them about healthy eating and portion control.”? Um, Mr. CMO? Spin Sucks.

Maybe you’re saying, “But Gini. There is no such thing as bad PR. I mean, you’re talking about this stunt.”

Baloney. My talking about it isn’t going to make you find your nearest Cub Scout so you can order their chocolate, is it?

Why do we still insist on using old tactics that don’t drive sales?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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164 Comments on "Old PR Stunts Don’t Drive Sales"

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Ameena Falchetto
4 years 9 months ago
Kids LOVE world records!!! I was fascinated by them as a kid and if a brand did something like that it would stick in my memory. As adults it is gross but for a child it is inspiring. The world record title will impress kids and they WILL want it. Most kids don’t have a sense of scale, volume or size so the title of world record holder will make them realise it’s the BIGGEST. Will it drive sales? I think actually yes – it will be top of mind for a lot of kids and we know just how… Read more »
Ameena Falchetto
4 years 9 months ago

Whoop! Was I first in?

NancyD68
4 years 9 months ago
With diabetes and obesity being such an issue – this is beyond dumb. More people are eating organic foods and trying to lose weight. A better idea instead of something so disgusting 9no wonder people in other countries think we are fat slobs – many of us are) why not talk about the health benefits of dark chocolate in moderation? It is a lot less sexy than a world record, but being a voice of sanity in a sometimes insane world can also make you stand out. Gluttony in this day and age? Come on. This is not the 70s.… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@Ameena Falchetto I agree that kids love this stuff. It’ll work, from the perspective that it’ll get the kids to go see it on the tour. But the bigger issue is that they don’t sell to kids. They don’t even sell at retail. So they’re targeting an audience who can’t even create pester power. The organizations, like the Cub Scouts, are the buyers. At the national levels.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@Ameena Falchetto you were first!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 It’s funny. We had this debate internally, before I wrote this. Half of the team agrees with what Ameena says below. The other half agrees with you. Lisa even checked out the content of the chocolate and none of it is dark. There is nothing healthy about it.

JayDolan
4 years 9 months ago

If I were a kid, I would be upset that I didn’t have a chance to eat the world’s largest chocolate bar.

As an adult, I’m upset that I didn’t have a chance to eat the world’s largest chocolate bar.

Either way, nobody gained a customer, and I’m left without a gargantuan chocolate construction.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@JayDolan Right?!? We were all craving chocolate after watching this yesterday.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@JayDolan Right?!? We were all craving chocolate after watching this yesterday.

JodiEchakowitz
JodiEchakowitz
4 years 9 months ago

This campaign is an oxymoron! It’s one thing to create a chocolate bar that size to break a record, but using it to get a kids attention so you can teach them about healthy eating, well that’s just plain stupid. Did anyone else notice that amount of liquor in the chocolate bar?

John Falchetto
4 years 9 months ago
One lesson here, bigger is always better. Seriously dumb. I remember from my days in PR the pain of organizing a Guiness validation process for a client who ran a taxi company. Basically they got all their taxis on the road at the same time. It was pointless since at the time they were the only taxi company in Dubai. The client felt so much bigger after. Maybe that’s what he wanted. He got his photo next to his taxis on the front page in the largest daily the next day. This doesn’t say much about journalistic standards but even… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@JodiEchakowitz THANK YOU! I thought, “Huh. That’s a lot of liquor.” The debate we had in the office yesterday (and to @Ameena Falchetto point below), getting attention with the kids with something like this works. BUT. I think it likely confuses the messages – chocolate and eating smart; thinking big and portion control. AND they can’t create pester power to get their parents to buy them this chocolate because it’s not sold at retail. I’m stumped.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@John Falchetto LOL! That’s a great story. Sometimes brand awareness is simply driven by ego.

John Falchetto
4 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich Sometimes?

JodiEchakowitz
JodiEchakowitz
4 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich@Ameena Falchetto I’m stumped too! I wonder if parents realize how ridiculous it would be to have their kids learn about healthy eating from a company that makes/sells chocolates.

JodiEchakowitz
JodiEchakowitz
4 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich@Ameena Falchetto I’m stumped too! I wonder if parents realize how ridiculous it would be to have their kids learn about healthy eating from a company that makes/sells chocolates.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@John Falchetto Ha. Fair point. Although I don’t think Coke builds brand awareness for ego’s sake. There is a pretty interesting discussion happening in the financial world in the States. They’re talking about putting some real value around brand awareness and equity. It would change accounting practices, but I, for one, would love to see that happen. Then these stunts WILL matter.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@JodiEchakowitz I’m not a parent, but I have lots of nieces and nephews (#14 was born this morning!) and I would totally take them to see this if it were here and I needed something to entertain them. But we’d go simply to see the 12,000 pounds of chocolate. Not for any other reason.

molliewrites
molliewrites
4 years 9 months ago

I also this on the news and had to roll my eyes. Aside from the extreme mixed messages for kids, this stunt didn’t really make me think about World’s Finest Chocolate brand. It just made me think of chocolate.

As pointed out below, this is a company that doesn’t sell at retail. It’s very possible that dollars spent to satisfy the hankering for chocolate will be spent on brands available at the local grocery or drug store.

molliewrites
molliewrites
4 years 9 months ago

I also this on the news and had to roll my eyes. Aside from the extreme mixed messages for kids, this stunt didn’t really make me think about World’s Finest Chocolate brand. It just made me think of chocolate.

As pointed out below, this is a company that doesn’t sell at retail. It’s very possible that dollars spent to satisfy the hankering for chocolate will be spent on brands available at the local grocery or drug store.

NancyD68
4 years 9 months ago

@JodiEchakowitz@ginidietrich@Ameena Falchetto I am a parent. This is dumb. My son is a real foodie too. He likes going to Whole Foods and eating organics. He wants fresh fruit, good quality cheese, and he likes when we cook together. He likes chocolate, but if I showed him that he would say “Mommy that’s dumb”

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 But I’ll bet he likes a really nice dark chocolate with some sea salt. Oh wait. That’s me.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@molliewrites Right?! It certainly made me crave chocolate. I love the dark chocolate and carmel bites, that have sea salt on them, from Whole Foods. In fact, I had one last night. 🙂

keithprivette
4 years 9 months ago

If you dont like stunts I can not wait til you sink the spin sucks into the latest Target stunt that completely blow up their Guest community with the release of Missoni. Limited supplies in store to look like HIGH demand (even though there was already, right size your supply chain to over deliver to your Guest), then “website down because of demand” They completely blew up sales on other products to get this “perceived demand”

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@keithprivette OMG! I saw that on the news this morning. My initial thought was, “Who are these crazy women racing to get into Target?” But is this any different than what any other brand does, especially around the holidays? How many stories have we read about people camping out to get the newest Tickle Me Elmo or Wii?

JodiEchakowitz
JodiEchakowitz
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 I think I need my kids to meet your son! My daughter (9 y/o) in particular, who is a chocoholic (and that’s putting it mildly), would see a chocolate that size and figure she’s in heaven 🙂

JodiEchakowitz
JodiEchakowitz
4 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich A bit off topic here, but you would love the Nugo salty pretzel and dark chocolate protein bar 🙂

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
4 years 9 months ago

Gini, thanks for reminding me about the cub scouts. After I saw this I was wracking my brain for where I could buy some 🙂

Seriously though, as horrifyingly socially irresponsible as a 12,000 lb bar of chocolate is, it WILL work — human psychology has not changed since the 1980s (just fashion, thank God). Besides, this could become a hit. Just imagine the size of the vending machines — more ammunition for your defense of sharks. This will definitely be “the vending machine that kills people.” 🙂

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
4 years 9 months ago

Gini, thanks for reminding me about the cub scouts. After I saw this I was wracking my brain for where I could buy some 🙂

Seriously though, as horrifyingly socially irresponsible as a 12,000 lb bar of chocolate is, it WILL work — human psychology has not changed since the 1980s (just fashion, thank God). Besides, this could become a hit. Just imagine the size of the vending machines — more ammunition for your defense of sharks. This will definitely be “the vending machine that kills people.” 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@JodiEchakowitz OMG! I have to try that. That. Sounds. Divine.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@JodiEchakowitz OMG! I have to try that. That. Sounds. Divine.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@glenn_ferrell LMAO! You just made me snort. Out loud.

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
4 years 9 months ago
1.) I had never heard of World’s Finest Chocolate until this post. Problem is I immediately thought it was a tag line for someone like Godiva. But if they aren’t selling retail, why the stunt? 2.) It doesn’t even look like a chocolate bar to me. Part of the pleasure of a nice dark chocolate bar is peeling back the gold foil. Instead of the blanket wouldn’t it have been way cooler to have it wrapped in gold foil that would be torn off? 3.) The whole Guinness thing for me is old hat. Now to get listed you have… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@FocusedWords 1) I have NO idea! I’m trying to figure out if there is a bigger retail strategy to it, but so far, my research is coming up blank.

2) Good point! Maybe it’s because it’s too laborious to do that for every tour stop?

3) I agree. It’s kind of surprising they can still get news coverage for it. Granted, it was 6 a.m. But still.

4) LOL!! Seriously.

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
4 years 9 months ago

@ginidietrich I forgot to add on #4 “and brain power.” but then that gives the marketing department too much credit for original thinking doesn’t it?

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
4 years 9 months ago

@FocusedWords Instead of Godiva, think “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”. Think of a PR campaign that makes fun of itself. Serious newscaster: “World’s Finest Chocolate created a 12,000 lb bar of chocolate as a PR stunt, but suddenly in a small town near White Sands, where the first nuclear tests took place …” Then just run footage from the 1950s movie of the 50ft woman tearing roofs off of stores…

EricaAllison
4 years 9 months ago
World’s Finest Chocolate should be fined for claiming that title… Having dealt with the kids who sell this and my own son who begs to sell it when it comes through our school PTO each year (and they do sell it), I know about WFC and do not think it is so. What I see here is the desire to assuage the parents (like me) who are sick of seeing our kids sell junk food (frozen pizzas one year, doughnuts, candy and WFC all included) for the school PTO. By saying they’ll talk about portion control and health benefits, the… Read more »
AllieRambles
4 years 9 months ago
An imaginary but very real conversation that my daughter and I would have if this chocolate bar came to her school. My daughter, 10 years old: “OMG! MOM! You should have seen this HUGE chocolate bar they had in the playground today! It was melting and I wanted some!” Me: “Why was it there? Did you guys win some contest?” Daughter: “No, they were setting a world record.” Me: “Who was and why?” Daughter: “I don’t know but it was HUGE!” Me: “So did they give you some?” Daughter: “No, but they told us to eat better. But, mom, isn’t… Read more »
PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
4 years 9 months ago

I have been forced – as a mother of 3 boys who were in scouts – to sell this chocolate and to use kids to gain profits just makes my blood boil. Did they not hear about Mrs. Obama’s inititive to combat childhood obesity? I’ll stop now.

Neicolec
Neicolec
4 years 9 months ago

Funny. I just heard a news report about this and had the same thought. The report explained about the huge chocolate bar and mentioned that the company did it to talk about healthy eating. And I just thought, that doesn’t make any sense. Yes, it did get my attention. But not necessarily in a good way. And, I don’t remember the company’s name even after hearing that report and just reading your post…

Nic_Cartwright
4 years 9 months ago
There are 2 options here – either they are being clever (and sneaky and assuming that their customers won’t listen to the ‘healthy eating’ message but instead go home dreaming of large chocolate bars) – so that they are using this PR to drive sales (because as you say – what’s the point in PR if it is not driving your business forward). or – they think that this will work – and will only find out it didn’t when they compare the costs of the exercise to the impact on the bottom line. Either way the owners/shareholders need to… Read more »
Nic_Cartwright
4 years 9 months ago
There are 2 options here – either they are being clever (and sneaky and assuming that their customers won’t listen to the ‘healthy eating’ message but instead go home dreaming of large chocolate bars) – so that they are using this PR to drive sales (because as you say – what’s the point in PR if it is not driving your business forward). or – they think that this will work – and will only find out it didn’t when they compare the costs of the exercise to the impact on the bottom line. Either way the owners/shareholders need to… Read more »
PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 thank you Nancy! I completely agree with you!

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 thank you Nancy! I completely agree with you!

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 thank you Nancy! I completely agree with you!

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
4 years 9 months ago

@NancyD68 thank you Nancy! I completely agree with you!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@FocusedWords I’m trying to figure out if they hired an agency for this or did it all in-house. I’m PRAYING it’s all in-house.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@FocusedWords I’m trying to figure out if they hired an agency for this or did it all in-house. I’m PRAYING it’s all in-house.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@FocusedWords I’m trying to figure out if they hired an agency for this or did it all in-house. I’m PRAYING it’s all in-house.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 9 months ago

@FocusedWords I’m trying to figure out if they hired an agency for this or did it all in-house. I’m PRAYING it’s all in-house.

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