Publicity stunt

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Publicity stunt in Salt Lake City, 1910: "Little Hip" the elephant, advertising newspaper and theater. LittleHip.jpg
Publicity stunt in Salt Lake City, 1910: "Little Hip" the elephant, advertising newspaper and theater.
Austin A40 Sports, circa 1951. To promote the A40 Sports, Leonard Lord, Chairman of Austin, bet Alan Hess of the company's publicity department that he could not drive round the world in 30 days in the car. In 1951, an A40 Sports driven by Hess achieved the round-the-world feat in 21 days rather than the planned 30 (with assistance of a KLM cargo plane) - though the stunt had no eventual impact on sales. Austin A40 Roadster ca 1951.jpg
Austin A40 Sports, circa 1951. To promote the A40 Sports, Leonard Lord, Chairman of Austin, bet Alan Hess of the company's publicity department that he could not drive round the world in 30 days in the car. In 1951, an A40 Sports driven by Hess achieved the round-the-world feat in 21 days rather than the planned 30 (with assistance of a KLM cargo plane) though the stunt had no eventual impact on sales.
In 2013 in several large German cities, Planet Earth Account Community Enterprise (PEACE) organized events where money was distributed to the public via a balloon. PEACE Money Balloons Frankfurt Main.jpg
In 2013 in several large German cities, Planet Earth Account Community Enterprise (PEACE) organized events where money was distributed to the public via a balloon.

In marketing, a publicity stunt is a planned event designed to attract the public's attention to the event's organizers or their cause. Publicity stunts can be professionally organized, or set up by amateurs. [4] Such events are frequently utilized by advertisers, and by celebrities who notably include athletes and politicians.


Organizations sometimes seek publicity by staging newsworthy events that attract media coverage. They can be in the form of groundbreakings, world record attempts, dedications, press conferences or organized protests. By staging and managing the event, the organization attempts to gain some control over what is reported in the media. Successful publicity stunts have news value, offer photo, video and sound bite opportunities, and are arranged primarily for media coverage. [5]

It can be difficult for organizations to design successful publicity stunts that highlight the message instead of burying it. For example, it makes sense for a pizza company to bake the world's largest pizza, but it would not make sense for the YMCA to sponsor that same event. The importance of publicity stunts is for generating news interest and awareness for the concept, product or service being marketed. [6]

Notable publicity stunts

JP Morgan and Ringling Brothers

In 1933, during the congressional hearings of J.P. Morgan's role in the financial crash, U.S. Senator Carter Glass remarked that the proceedings had turned into a circus. The Ringling Brothers company were in town at that time. They interpreted Glass's remarks as an invitation and asked their press agent to place a dwarf, Lya Graf, on Morgan's lap during one of the hearings. While it surprised Morgan and infuriated Glass, it got loads of publicity for Ringling Brothers. [7]

Calendar girls

In 1999 a group of 11 women of the Women's Institute (in Yorkshire, UK) stripped for a calendar to raise money for charity. The calendar released featured the women posing nude – obscured by baked goods and flower arrangements with 800,000 copies sold worldwide. This stunt shocked people in those times and inspired the 2003 comedy film Calendar Girls . [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sideshow Theatrical genre

In North America, a sideshow is an extra, secondary production associated with a circus, carnival, fair, or other such attraction.

In marketing, publicity is the public visibility or awareness for any product, service, person or organization. It may also refer to the movement of information from its source to the general public, often via the media. The subjects of publicity include people of public interest, goods and services, organizations, and works of art or entertainment.

Media circus Phrase describing excessive media coverage

Media circus is a colloquial metaphor, or idiom, describing a news event for which the level of media coverage—measured by such factors as the number of reporters at the scene and the amount of material broadcast or published—is perceived to be excessive or out of proportion to the event being covered. Coverage that is sensationalistic can add to the perception the event is the subject of a media circus. The term is meant to critique the coverage of the event by comparing it to the spectacle and pageantry of a circus. Usage of the term in this sense became common in the 1970s. It can also be called a media feeding frenzy or just media frenzy, especially when they cover the media coverage.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Traveling circus company (1919-2023)

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American traveling circus company billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. It and its predecessor shows ran from 1871 to 2017. Known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the circus started in 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, a circus created by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses separately until they were merged in 1919.

Lavash Flatbread

Lavash is a thin flatbread usually leavened, traditionally baked in a tandoor (tonir) or on a sajj, and common to the cuisines of South Caucasus, Western Asia, and the areas surrounding the Caspian Sea. Lavash is one of the most widespread types of bread in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. The traditional recipe can be adapted to the modern kitchen by using a griddle or wok instead of the tonir.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College trained around 1,400 clowns in the "Ringling style" from its 1968 founding until its 1997 closure.

Stunting is a type of publicity stunt in radio broadcasting, where a station—abruptly and often without advance announcement—begins to air content that is seemingly uncharacteristic compared to what is normally played.

Gargantua (gorilla)

Gargantua was a captive western lowland gorilla famed for being exhibited by the Ringling Brothers circus. He has been credited with saving the business from bankruptcy. An acid scar on his face gave Gargantua a snarling, menacing expression, which the circus management exploited by generating publicity falsely exaggerating his purported hatred of humans. He was also claimed to be the largest gorilla in captivity.

John Ringling American entrepreneur (1866–1936)

John Nicholas Ringling was an American entrepreneur who is the best known of the seven Ringling brothers, five of whom merged the Barnum & Bailey Circus with their own Ringling Bros World's Greatest Shows to create a virtual monopoly of traveling circuses and helped shape the modern circus. In addition to owning and managing many of the largest circuses in the United States, he was also a rancher, a real estate developer and art collector. He was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1987.

Animal cracker

An animal cracker is a particular type of cracker, baked in the shape of an animal, usually an animal either at a zoo or circus, such as a lion, a tiger, a bear, or an elephant. The most common variety is light-colored and slightly sweet, but darker chocolate-flavored and colorful frosted varieties are also sold. Although animal crackers tend to be sweet in flavor like cookies, they are made with a layered dough like crackers and are marketed as crackers and not as cookies.

Earned media refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising or branding.

Media event

A media event, also known as a pseudo-event, is an event, activity, or experience conducted for the purpose of media publicity. It may also include any event that is covered in the mass media or was hosted largely with the media in mind. Media events may center on a news announcement, an anniversary, a news conference, or planned events like speeches or demonstrations. Instead of paying for advertising time, a media or pseudo-event seeks to use public relations to gain media and public attention. The theorist Marshal McLuhan has stated that the pseudo-event has been viewed as an event that is separate from reality and is to simply satisfy our need for constant excitement and interest in pop culture. These events are, “planned, planted, or incited ” solely to be reproduced later again and again.

Crash at Crush 1896 rail crash publicity stunt in Texas, USA

The Crash at Crush was a one-day publicity stunt in the U.S. state of Texas that took place on September 15, 1896, in which two uncrewed locomotives were crashed into each other head-on at high speed. William George Crush, general passenger agent of the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad, conceived the idea in order to demonstrate a staged train wreck as a public spectacle. No admission was charged, and train fares to the crash site – called Crush, set up as a temporary destination for the event – were offered at the reduced rate of US$3.50 from any location in Texas.

Mark Borkowski is a British PR agent and author with an interest in the history of public relations and the art of the publicity stunt. He attended King's Stanley Junior School and St Peters High School in Gloucester and began working in public relations at nineteen years old. As founder and head of Borkowski PR, he is a well-known tv pundit, lecturer and speaker on the art of publicity. Borkowski has a column in The Guardian and has written two books on publicity stunts as related to public relations and has won several awards for his work.

Jake Bronstein, is a marketer, entrepreneur, Internet personality, and blogger. He was an editor of the US edition of FHM, a men's magazine. Bronstein markets himself as a "fun evangelist," and provides consulting services to that end through his marketing agency GiantMINIATURE.

Feld Entertainment American live show production company

Feld Entertainment Inc. is an American live show production company which owns a number of traveling shows. The company began with the now-defunct Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus then expanded into additional live events, including Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, AMA Supercross Championship, and Sesame Street Live. The company is family owned.

Suffrage Hikes

The Suffrage Hikes of 1912 to 1914 brought attention to the issue of women's suffrage. Florence Gertrude de Fonblanque organised the first from Edinburgh to London. Within months Rosalie Gardiner Jones had organized the first American one which left from The Bronx to Albany, New York. The second hike was from New York City to Washington, D.C., and covered 230 miles in 17 days.

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Art museum

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the official state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota, Florida. It was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable Burton Ringling and John Ringling for the people of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the museum in 2000.

The Gay Women's Alternative, DC (GWA) (1981–1993) was an incorporated social-educational non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the cultural, intellectual, and social lives of lesbians of the Washington, D.C., area. The GWA was formed in 1980 to provide the DC lesbian community with an alternative and safe space to socialize and discuss feminist and educational topics concerning the lesbian and gay women population. The group met every Wednesday evening from 8 pm to 11 pm at the Washington Ethical Society near Silver Spring, Maryland. Weekly programs covered topics such as, "Organizing Your Finances for Success," "Lesbian Couples: How Different are we?" and "Women and Wellness: A Feminist Approach to Health Care". Speakers included black poet Audre Lorde, artist Joan E. Biren, television journalist Maureen Bunyan, and comedian Kate Karsten. The GWA held several dances, including the annual lesbian spring dance and the Spring Cotillion.

<i>Daily Hive</i> Online Canadian newspaper

Daily Hive, formerly known as Vancity Buzz, is a Canadian online newspaper based in Vancouver, British Columbia. It began digital publishing in 2008 and became Western Canada's largest online-only publication by 2016.


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  2. "Motoring Memories: Austin A40 Sports, 1951–1953". Canadian Driver, June 15, 2007, Bill Vance.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. "Money rain over Frankfurt am Main". Archived from the original on 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  4. "Advertising". The Balance Careers. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  5. Cutlip, Scott; Center, Allen; Broom, Glen (1985). Effective Public Relations . Englewood Cliffs, new Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp.  8–9. ISBN   0-13-245077-1.
  6. Horton, James. "Publicity Stunts What Are They? Why Do Them?" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  7. "10 Crazy PR Stunts Throughout History". Mental Floss. 2015-08-23. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  8. "The 25 greatest publicity stunts of our time". The Drum. Retrieved 2022-06-27.