These awe-inspiring spectacles can cost companies up to millions, a sum they hope to get back by making an impression on consumers. Some of these wild and unique stunts are still remembered today as borderline works of art and may just have people talking about them for generations…
Some Very Well Read Flies - 2009
Okay, we aren’t quite sure who exactly came up with this stunt and what was crossing their minds when they did but we guess...10/10 for creativity? Someone decided to attach tags with the company name to 200 houseflies using wax and release them in the bookfair.
Consumers were initially confused yet intrigued by these unique messengers. The flies did, in fact, create a bit of a buzz around the Eichborn stand, in the end, the very strange idea may have been worth it! No flies were harmed in the making of this ad stunt.
Calling All Dominos Fans! - 2018
In 2018, Dominos launched a PR stunt challenging customers to tattoo the logo in a visible spot on their body, in exchange for….wait for it….free pizzas for life! (quite literally, 100 free pizzas a year).
The stunt took place in Russia and targeted specifically the Russian consumers. Unsurprisingly, hundreds of pizza lovers flooded tattoo parlors for their free pizzas and sure enough, Dominos held up their end of the bargain. Advertising paid for in a pizza. Not a bad deal.
“Who You Gonna Call?” - 2016
"Ghostbusters." A classic flick that’s been inducted into the nostalgia hall of fame of movies. Well, just like Hollywood, they decided to remake the film in 2016 and of course, there were no corners cut on the promotion of the flick. Once again, London town is the location of our next PR stunt, which takes place in the Waterloo tube station.
The advertisement has a large Marshmallow man, (who those might remember from the original film), seemingly bursting through the floor and drops of slime falling on commuters from the ceiling. The stunt cost over $200,000 and had commuters buzzing about the installation on social media.
His Spidey-Senses Were Tingling… - 2018
With now three reboots and three different actors playing the titular role, Spider-man can now claim one of the largest moneymakers in the marvel franchise. With this in mind, Sony who in 2018 was celebrating the release of Spider-Man on the PS4 decided to go all out with their press for the game.
That takes us to Milan, Italy, where Sony paid $200,000 to simulate a yellow school bus being saved from nose-diving into Darsena Lake, a frequently visited site in Milan’s city center.
Paris Panda Parade - 2008
With the picturesque Eiffel Tower in the background, the World Wildlife Fund put a whopping 1,600 paper mache pandas on the lawn of one of the world's most popular tourist attractions. The $50,000+ installation chose this location because of the immense number of tourists passing through the area each day.
The installation was to highlight the dwindling number of pandas left in the wild, and boy was it a hit. Tourists were quick to grab pics with the paper mache stampede, which quickly spread throughout the then somewhat new social media network.
WcDonalds? - 2018
Mickey D’s has been famous for its golden arches since its founding in 1955. This genius awareness stunt was absolutely sure to catch restaurant-goers eyes...and it certainly did. The company spent $75,000 to flip the arches upside down in 100 select locations in celebration of International Women’s Day.
The arches were also flipped on all the company’s social media accounts, for a wider spread of awareness. The stunt followed the rise in women’s rights awareness with the Times Up movement. The support of the fast-food chain certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
Space Sushi - 2012
Let’s be real, there’s nothing more extra than pulling off a PR stunt in literal space. For a six-month time period investment and only around a thousand dollars, Washington-based restaurant, Sticky Rice, decided to really go all out for this advertising campaign.
The ever-popular Godzilla Roll was attached to a plate which itself was attached to a balloon and launched into space with a camera to document the process. This stunt caught the small company quite a bit of attention. The question is, did the aliens like the sushi? Or not?
Banksy Does It Again - 2018
If you haven’t heard of the guerilla artist Banksy or the documentary made about the painter, “Exit Through The Giftshop”, then now’s the time to learn. Banksy is a London-based artist who is known for putting up paintings all over the UK while managing to remain completely anonymous.
In 2018 Banksy pulled one of the more impressive stunts. A canvas created by Banksy, entitled, “Girl with a Balloon”, was put up for auction at Sotheby's and sold for $1.4. The moment the auctioneer’s gavel his the podium, the painting instantly shredded itself, leaving the buyer with nothing but strips. The sneaky artist had put a shredder inside the painting frame, Genius.
It’s a Boat! No, It’s an eBay Birthday Cake! - 2015
Once again this little stunt, which cost eBay $100,000 brings us back to the river Thames in London. The popular online commerce company challenged the company Livettes to create a giant birthday cake that would float down the River Thames with the final destination of a large party of eBay employees celebrating their 20th anniversary.
The large dessert did indeed float down the river, catching the eye of both media passers-by alike, as it made its way to the party.
A Valiant Effort Indeed - 1983
Yes, yes, we’re once again talking about Richard Branson. This billionaire was very active in the 80s and 90s with expensive, eye-catching stunts. In 1983, Branson was asked to join Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett in a hot air balloon flight around the world and he enthusiastically accepted.
The stunt cost $40,000 per balloon and the flight lasted one week in total, covering 12,427 miles. The attempt was launched in Morocco and ended in the Pacific Ocean requiring emergency rescue from Hawaii.
Could it be Aliens? No, It’s BMW - 1993
There was a time when crop circles were, well, kind of a thing. The concentric patterns are aptly named for their location, which, unsurprisingly, is always somewhere in a crop field. Whether it’s aliens or not, the phenomenon always draws quite a bit of attention, which is exactly what BMW decided to take advantage of.
The well-known luxury car brand hired artist Hunt Lascaris to create a large crop circle in the shape of the BMW logo in Johannesburg, South Africa. The car brand didn’t immediately give away being behind the stunt, leaving the public guessing to create buzz.
Cat Cafe For Cuddle Critters - 2014
Most of us are aware that Japan is quite known for its adorable cat cafes, but that's not the only place. In 2014, popular pet food brand, Purina, opened a brand-spankin' new cat cafe right in Manhattan.
Purina partnered with a well-known specialty coffee roaster from Brooklyn and together they successfully launched. The cats were brought in from the North Shore Animal League, on Long Island and the furry friend popup shop lasted for four days. The stunt cost Purina around $100,000.
Colonel Sanders, but Supersize! - 2006
Our setting for this oversized stunt is Rachel, Nevada. The popular fried chicken company, KFC decided to make a giant logo that could be seen from space and subsequently broadcast to our TV screens and computers.
The logo was comprised of over 65,000 square miles and cost the company upwards of $30,000. The stunt was part of KFC’s global reimaging campaign and definitely made an impression. Like, who wouldn’t want to see a giant Colonel Sanders in a big field from space?
So Extra, But We’re Here for it - 2019
Everyone’s heard of the popular car ride service Uber, right? Well back in 2019, they pulled a PR stunt that was albeit expensive but also experiential. Uber decided to unveil UberCopter, your own personal helicopter ride from Manhattan to JFK International Airport.
Each ride cost between $225-$310, (including an $85 back check fee). The ride took all in all only 8 minutes, with a spectacular view of the city, and had you ready for your next flight without sitting in New York traffic for over an hour and watching the taxi meter creep up to a similar price anyway.
Taco Liberty Bell...Seems Legit - 1996
Nowadays, we’re pretty trained to spot a joke when something fishy comes up on April fools Day, however in 1996, companies were really just starting to take advantage of the silly holiday as an advertising tool.
1996, Taco Bell invested approximately $500,000 in convincing people they purchased the Liberty Bell and had changed the name to, “The Taco Liberty Bell”. The stunt caused numerous news stations to discuss the mystery in depth, diving into debates about ethics. The journalists were left a bit embarrassed when they discovered it was nothing more than a prank.
Winter is Coming… - 2017
Okay, let's be real here. If there’s one show that probably didn’t need to do almost any advertising and would still have garnered a huge fan base, it’s "Game Of Thrones." That being said, in 2017, the series spent approximately $10,000 to have the well-known Night King and his White Walker henchmen march through iconic parts of London, promoting the new season.
The actors went the whole nine yards, with professional makeup and attire. Fans of the show were beside themselves excited to see characters from the show in real life.
The Orcs are Coming - 2014
In 2014, World of Warcraft creators, Blizzard Entertainment, invested $300,000 in a PR stunt right in the center of New York City. Although the game had already risen to immense popularity since its release in 2004, the video game company decided to go the creative route to advertise for the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack.
The stunt included A large World of Warcraft axe splitting the well-known, yellow New York taxi. Passers-by were drawn to the spectacle because of the impressive installation.
Scrabble Here, Scrabble There, Scrabble Scrabble Everywhere - 2004
In 2004, Scrabble celebrated its 60th anniversary by commissioning two skydivers to play a quick….very quick actually, round in mid-air. The Game was broadcast worldwide and was quite an attention grabber by audiences all over the globe.
The stunt got people talking which was exactly the intended result. It can be difficult to reinvigorate sales after such a long time but they somehow managed to come up with a creative way to bring Scrabble back to the board game forefront.
A Feline Takeover - 2016
If you’ve ever been inside the London tube, you’d know that in every station the walls are lined with many many ads, from West End shows to dating sights, to food delivery and more. In 2016, there was a complete ad takeover called #catsnotads courtesy of Citizens Advertising Takeover Service.
The takeover replaced all the original ads, with those of cats pictures, and even ticket barriers were renamed, “catflaps”. The campaign came from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home as well as Cats Protection. The ultimate goal surprisingly wasn’t for adopting a furry friend but rather improving ad spaces with quality content.
PR Stunt Turned National Monument - 1923
People all over the world recognize the large white Hollywood sign. It’s the symbol of Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general. Well, you might be surprised to discover the initial sign, created in 1923 was made by Sidney Woodruff to advertise a new housing development.
The original sign read, “Hollywoodland”. The sign, costing $323,666 was initially supposed to be temporary but it became the beacon of Hollywood and in 1949, the four extra letters were removed, leaving us with the site on Hollywood Hills we know well.
A Very Meaty Cologne Indeed - 2015
This PR stunt run by popular fast-food chain Burger King, pulled a kind of “JK but not really”, campaign. On April 1st, 2015, the King released a “flame-grilled” scent. Although released on April fools day, consumers could, in all seriousness, buy this fragrance and wear it around, if they so choose.
The company pulled this same stunt back in 2008 and caused quite a media storm. The design of the bottle certainly looked like something you might get in a designer store but there was no way around it….the perfume smelled like burgers.
Go Together Like Potholes and Pizza - 2018
In 2018, the well-known Pizza chain, Domino’s, decided with all their pizza deliverers always on the road, they should be freed of the ever-present pothole. They then started the “paving for Pizza” campaign.
With just $5,000, Domino’s purchased 75 tons of solid asphalt and began filling potholes. The campaign took place in Bartonville, Texas. Ultimately eight potholes and three roads were repaired. The campaign created jobs and the Domino's printed truck with the campaign slogan increased brand awareness.
Tinder, But For Dogs - 2014
You really gotta give it to Tinder for this one, an absolute genius move if you ask us. The popular dating app gave users the ability to swipe right for, yes you guessed it, a dog. Tinder partnered with a local New York City animal rescue organization and posted pictures of the adorable pups on the app.
The stunt was a wild success and generated over 2,000 adoptions in a single week! The limited-time offer cost tinder $400,000 and proved to be wildly successful.
Betting on Snake Eyes - 2007
Our next PR stunt takes us to Nuuk Greenland. The stunt, costing around $30,000 was for the online gaming site Gnuf.com. Gnuf hired a Swedish ad agency, Acne, to help them come up with an eye-catching concept.
Thus was thought up, the “world’s greatest dice roll”. The roll took place on a snowy mountainside in Nuuk and consisted of two 1,000 pound dice rolling down the mountain. The event could be watched online and bets could be placed on the giant roll’s outcome.
Red Bull Gives You Wings...To Space - 2012
In 2012, the popular energy drink company, Red Bull, spent over $30 million on a stunt that had people all over the globe fixed to their tv/computer screens, The company had Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgertner, just from a helium balloon….in space!
The fall took him 10 minutes and the stunt, dubbed Red Bull Stratos, was a huge success. The ad generated over $500 million in Red Bull Sales, returning their investment by, well, A LOT! It only reinforces the well-known slogan, because, it seems, Red Bull actually does give you wings.
Giant Jeff in London Town - 2018
A certified daddy of the first order, Jeff Goldblum has managed to make himself an icon in Hollywood. Best known for his role as Dr. Ian Malcom in the hit Spielberg flick, Jurassic Park, NowTV decided to capitalize on his popularity.
In celebration of the movie’s 25th anniversary, a huge statue of a semi shirtless Jeff, (which cost $100,000 and took over 6 weeks to make), was erected next to the River Thames. Okay but like, where can we get a giant shirtless Goldblum for personal use? Asking for a friend...
Lacoste Gives Back to Nature - 2019
Some of you may remember this one, it was a very well-known stunt pulled by Lacoste, the famous polo brand. costing an estimated $400,000-$500,0000, Lacoste decided to pair up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and launched the “Save Our Species” campaign to raise funds for endangered animals.
The well-known embroidered Lacoste Crocodile was temporarily replaced on clothing with endangered animals such as the Mogel Scops Owl, North Atlantic Right Whale, and Iberian Lynx. Over $3,500 polos were sold with proceeds going to conservation and animal protection efforts put forth by the IUCN.
An ‘A’ for Effort Though - 2005
The year is 2005. It’s the heat of a New York City summer. Snapple, in all of their optimism, is trying to promote its new Strawberry-Kiwi flavor while simultaneously beating the Guinness World Record for the largest popsicle.
A 17.5-ton popsicle, standing 25ft tall was erected in Manhattan. The spectacle proved to be a bit more of a mess than originally anticipated, for it was no match for the summer heat. The icy treat began to melt, causing police and firemen to cordon off the area and Snapple was forced to pay for the sticky mess they’d created.
Paddy’s Power Panties - 2013
Paddy’s Power is a British bookmaker who’s known as a fairly popular betting Titan in the United Kingdom. The company decided to spend upwards of $75,000 to get attendees of a popular horse racing event in Cheltenham to look to the skies.
The bookmaker had a hot air balloon shaped like undies, with their name printed in large letters at the top, float by the event. While Brits are fairly accustomed to seeing hot air balloons, the large underwear was still a bit out of the norm and drew in a good bit of press for the company.
Tiny Pieces, Fancy Car - 2018
Bugatti. Well known as a very high-class and showy car brand. In 2018, the well-known car company teamed up with LEGO Technic in Billund, Denmark to pull off something pretty incredible. LEGO Technic, (not to be confused with regular LEGO), is a company that deals with small technical parts for engineers.
Together, the team built a 42083 Bugatti Chiron using $3 million worth of tiny parts. The stunt took 13,400 hours to finish and the result was a life-size and actually drivable vehicle.
The Holiest Grilled Cheese - 2004
Yes, it’s true that the Virgin Mary is quite a significant figure in Christianity...to put it lightly. So maybe it’s not so surprising that in 2004, GoldenPalace.com bought a partially eaten piece of toast that looked like it just might have the face of the Virgin Mary on it, from eBay for a whopping $28,000.
The holy grilled cheese was discovered by a woman who made the sandwich and after one bite, noticed the image. GoldenPalace.com, an online casino site won the eBay auction and claimed to be using the sandwich as a way to raise funds for charity.
Goodbye Superman - 2018
Now, this is one elaborate PR stunt. A full movie was literally made to bring more readers to DC comics, (of which there are already plenty). The animated movie, “Death To Superman”, was made where Superman literally sacrifices himself to the well-known villain, Doomsday, from destroying the world. Naturally.
DC comics brought Superman back to life in, “Reign of the Supermen”, however, the stunt to kill off superman was a huge success. The movies, which cost approximately $27 million each, received very positive reviews and brought in millions in box office sales.
The North Face on The North Face - 2018
The North Face sponsors the best of the best outdoor adventurers. Mountaineers, rock climbers, skiers/snowboarders, etc. Their stores are generally located...well, where one would find a store. Inside a building. In 2018, the outdoorsy company pulled a really cool PR stunt.
A pop-up shop was set up in the Dolomites in Italy, almost 6,900 feet above sea level, which ran for a total of eight days. The store was accessible only to those who were ready to make the two-hour hike up the mountain. The pop-up was offering collector's items, donated by athletes such as Caroline Ciavaldine, Simone Moro, Conrad Anker, Alex Honnold, and more.
It’s Tesla, What Did You Expect? - 2018
Okay, we all know Tesla founder and eccentric billionaire, Elon Musk clearly has the means to pull off a completely over-the-top PR stunt. In 2018. Musk asked Twitter fans, what sort of dummy he should use for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket.
After scanning the various responses he received, Musk took his own personal Tesla Roadster to send to the great beyond. Inside he placed a dummy which he named “Starman” (Hello, David Bowie) and launched the vehicle into space. This $90-$150 million stunt brought Tesla loads of brand awareness and left Starman alone in space to orbit the sun for all eternity.
Blockbuster Back from the Dead - 2018
Our location for this PR stunt is London, England. Marvel, the creator of countless beloved heroes, used one of our favorite funny guys and a bit of nostalgia to promote "Deadpool 2" being released for digital download and DVD.
Not only did it open the popup, but it also gave away 1,989 copies for free, to celebrate the year the store opened its first London branch. The popup was riding the wave of the second movie’s popularity. Deadpool 2 made $785.8 million at the box office, turning the franchise into a billion-dollar moneymaker for 20th Century Fox.
An Upgrade For Pothole Season - 2012
Turns out, there’s a pothole season in Canada. Because of harsh weather conditions, the roads can become quite treacherous for drivers in the winter months. This PR stunt was created to advertise a new Canadian iPhone app, allowing drivers to report on the location and size of each pothole for other drivers.
The promo was an art display with the front end of a red car deep in the asphalt. The area was cordoned off with yellow tape. The entire display/ad campaign cost a total of $200,000.
Annual Holiday Event? Or, PR stunt? - 1924
We’re all familiar with the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade with the ornate floats and live performances, however, it might surprise you to know that the original parade was indeed just a PR stunt thought up by Macy’s themselves.
In an attempt to draw more attention to the New York City Macys, on Christmas day in 1924, large zoo animals carted around by clowns were pulled down the avenue. This small original stunt has become an annual event that now costs upwards of $11 million!
KFC, Please Name My Baby! - 2018
Oh, what one won’t do for a little bit of moolah. In 2018, KFC posted a challenge for those expecting parents out there. If their baby happened to be born on Colonel Sanders' birthday, and the parents agreed to name the child “Harland”, they would be put in a raffle to win $11,000 to put towards their baby’s education.
Well not so surprisingly there were quite a number of applicants and after a draw of all the names, North Carolina native “Harland Rose” was pronounced winner. Quite a permanent chance to take for a small chance of winning but hey, who are we to judge?
Talk about Customer Retention… - 2013
WestJet is a Candian airline that in 2013 won a Shorty Award for their ingenious marketing campaign, “Christmas Miracle”. The stunt, which cost $920,000, consisted of a viral video showing passengers telling an on-screen Santa Claus what they’d like for Christmas.
It then showed WestJet employees at the destination airport purchasing the gifts, wrapping and having them ready for passengers as they de-boarded the plane. The pure joy and emotion portrayed in the video was palpable and became instantly viral.
Everybody Likes A Daredevil - 2017
Let’s be honest here. There’s something very attractive about a bad boy. Well in 2017, Jaguar played on that theme by hiring professional stunt driver, Terry Grant, to execute the world’s longest barrel roll. The luxury car company equipped Grant with the E-PACE vehicle, which costs just under $48,000.
The stunt driver drove up a ramp at high speed, spun 270 degrees, and landed on a ramp on the other side. The barrel roll was almost 50.2 feet in length which won them a spot in the Guinness World Record.
Virgin vs. Coca Cola - 1998
Our next PR scheme brings us back to good ‘ole Richard Branson. A bigwig for Virgin back in the 90s and one who enjoyed a good spectacle. In 1998, Branson put a great deal of effort into advertising his own Virgin Cola, which was to give Coca-Cola a real run for their money.
Branson’s Cola had become relatively successful in Britain and was making the big move to the USA. Branson, who spent approximately $1 million on the stunt, managed to get his hands on a military tank and adorned it with the Virgin Cola logo which he then proceeded to drive through Times Square and “inadvertently” destroyed a Coca-Cola sign.
Netflix is Not A Joke - 2017
We can all agree that good content is literally not a joke and Netflix has quite the monopoly on streaming. This PR stunt is actually unverified but we’d like to venture a guess that the streaming giant is behind it.
Billboards featuring the words, “Netflix is a joke,” popped up all over Los Angeles California in 2017 and puzzled LA natives, who quickly began sharing photos of the marketing ploy on social media. Sometimes simplicity and a hint of mystery are all you really need to get the people talking about your brand.
Deisel, Not Diesel - 2018
We’re all familiar with knock-off name brands shops. Every city around the world has them. Luis Vitton, Prada, DKNY are examples of brands that have been knocked off more times than one can count. In 2018, the well-known jean brand, Diesel decided to clap back on knockoffs.
They created a popup shopped, which they called “Deisel”, in Chinatown and sold what customers thought were bootleg jeans but were, in fact, actual Diesel jeans. The knock-off-originals would eventually become hard to find, as they’re limited edition, and would ultimately boost the price.
It’s All in the Perspective - 2008
Shreddies. By all intents and purposes, a fairly tame cereal. Doesn’t have a particularly strong flavor or a particularly interesting shape. However, one employee at the company changed everything by claiming the shape as a diamond instead of a square!
A simple change in perspective and voila, the company immediately launches a $500,000 campaign across England, Canada, and New Zealand, marketing the and improved, diamond-shaped Shreddie! Now if that’s not capitalizing on creativity, we don’t know what is. Bet that employee felt pretty good about himself after that.
Missing Apex Predator, Please Return - 2019
In an ad campaign designed to bring awareness to the exponential decline in the large cat population, (90% in the past 75 years), National Geographic played on the missing pet concept. The well-known wildlife organization hired Tin Man ad agency, which created posters for missing large cats around Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, and Bristol.
The ads were similar to that of missing house pets placed around a city. Each poster was 260 square feet and was designed by artist Dean Zeus Colman. The text featured a large cat and details about them.
Any Press is Good Press? - 2021
Popular British cereal brand Weetabix shocked consumers when they teamed up with Heinz and suggested the crunchy cereal bar be eaten slathered with...baked beans. The campaign included Amazon’s Alexa who was suggesting to customers to give the bizarre combo a try.
Weetabix fans were absolutely appalled at this stunt which cost the companies $50,000+.The general negative reaction, however, didn't shake the companies, in fact, they were delighted the ad campaign got people talking about their company. And you know what they say, any press is good press!
Okay Tokyo, You Extra - 2018
Everybody loves a spa, right? And most people love wine. And many people would claim the perfect combo is a spa and wine. But what about a spa….of wine? The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun hot springs spa in Tokyo Japan did just that.
They invested around $20 million dollars in creating wine swimming pools filled to the brim with merlot. Obviously, spa-goers loaded their social media with videos and pictures of the boozy pools and stirred up quite a lot of buzz for the spa.
“BA Can’t Get it Up!” - 1999
In a stunt that personally cost Virgin owner Richard Branson $2 million, all eyes turned to Virgin. In 1999, London awaited the now-infamous London Eye to be erected. There proved to be numerous problems in getting the British Airways-sponsored attraction off the ground.
Branson saw an opportunity in the delay and took it. He commissioned a blimp to float close to the London Eye which proudly proclaimed “BA Can’t Get It Up!” It proved to be both an amusing stunt and an extremely clever business move as the company quickly had the public focusing on Virgin.