Most Creative and Successful PR Campaigns from the First Half of 2017



Now that we’re nearing the end of the year, it’s safe to say that 2017 has been quite eventful. Not only with current events and the instability of the world’s sociopolitical state, the media was filled with interesting content and PR stunts that successfully garnered our undivided attention. While most PR campaigns were met with virality due to its satirical content, especially towards the current American government administration, some PR campaigns receive recognition because they are simply creative, unique, and for some, problematic.


Burger King Connected Burger

Image credit: Creativity Online

The success of the latest Burger King’s commercial might be questionable but one can’t doubt the creative aspect of the ad. Burger King compacted their advertisement for the Whopper burger into only 15 seconds. The length, or lack thereof, of the video was acknowledged by the ad, which then gave way to a clever multiplatform “hijacking” to explain the burger. In the last 5 second of the ad, the actor gestured for the camera man to come closer and whispered, “Okay Google, what is a Whopper burger?”, and the ad abruptly ends afterward.

For those without an Android device or a Google Home device, this might seem a tad strange. However, for those who own Android gadgets, this will trigger the voice-activated assistant in those devices and they will recite the Wikipedia definition for a Whopper burger. If the narrative was to be stopped here, the ad could’ve been an easy success. However, internet users in this millennium can think of more clever ways than the middle-aged executives at Burger King ever could. People started editing the Wikipedia page and inserting fictious, comedic, and often disturbing facts about the burger. As a response to the backfire, Google quickly disabled the ad. As of June, the video has over 33 thousand dislikes on Youtube, some citing that they feel alienated since it only targets Android and Google Home users.


Devolver Digital at the E3 2017

Image credit: Polygon

It seems like this indie video game publisher has mastered in combining black comedy with ingenious marketing ploy. The Devolver Digital E3 Press Conference featured the fictional Nina Struthers, the company’s Chief Synergy Officer. She started the conference by firing the gun into the air to get the attention of the journalists in the audience who can’t seem to stop cheering and applauding. As the event goes on, akin to the sketches on Saturday Night Live or a magic show-gone-wrong, Devolver introduced several new concepts like the “Devolver Digital Screen Pay” where players can use real money to buy in-game items by throwing it onto the screen. It all goes awry when the computer literally ate the player’s arm off, leaving the stage quite the bloody mess. In the gruesome ending, due to an overwhelming concept that allows commenters to instantaneously add features into the game, Struthers and her assistants collapsed.

This conference was perhaps held to poke fun at bigger game developer companies and their customer service and marketing schemes, namely Bethesda’s paid-for mods initiative. It was also a nice break from all the monotonous conferences filled with questionable new features, awkward encounters, and empty promises. It’s a nice little detour from the usual format and it is entertaining enough to get people talking. Many media outlets and social media users praised Devolver Digital for bravely satirizing the event in one creative, albeit gory, press conference.


The Whole Country of Sweden For Rent

Image credit: InStyle

Taking the concept of hospitality and tourism to the next level, Sweden created a campaign where they listed the whole country on Airbnb. After the successful Live There campaign back in January, the Sweden Airbnb ad came out on May 22nd and highlighted the country’s freedom to roam policy. When visiting the country, one can easily travel, reside, and camp on any of Sweden’s natural sanctuaries and reserves. The Swedish nature can provide everything, from shelter to food that a home can give.

This was done in an effort to raise tourism in the country. The president of Visit Sweden, Jenny Kaiser, stated that through this campaign, Sweden can stand out from other countries despite its lack of well-known monuments. The campaign garnered relatively positive responses. On the Youtube video, commenters expressed their heightened desire to visit Sweden after watching the ad. This whole campaign is undoubtedly strange but it works as it appeals to the audience’s wanderlust.


Pepsi ft. Kendal Jenner

Image credit: Lintang Cahyaningsih

This list won’t be complete without mentioning the infamous Pepsi advertisement. The video featured Kendall Jenner, perhaps to appeal to the younger generation, in the midst of a protest. She proceeded to give a can of Pepsi to the riot police and suddenly, everything was well. The ad implied that with just a can of Pepsi (possibly given by a young, Caucasian model) will immediately solve the issues that are brought up in the demonstration. The commercial did feature people from different ethnicities, religions, financial backgrounds, and so on. However, the diverse cast is not enough to distract the audience from the disastrous plot twist.

Despite being controversial, the Pepsi united internet users against the company. Some brands even created their own responses to the ad. For instance, Heineken released a commercial where they put strangers with opposing views together in a room. Many praised Heineken’s approached, saying that this is a more rational way to promote togetherness and solidarity. Successful? Sort of. Creative? Not really. It got people talking? Absolutely. At the end of the day, this is what a PR campaign is all about. Although it did receive negative feedback from the audience, the ad is surely one of the most talked about topic in the first half of the year.

There were so many more creative and successful PR campaigns from the first half of 2017 but these four truly made an impact. Judging by all the viral campaigns from the first two quarters of the year, we can only expect better marketing ploys in the second half of 2017, especially during the holiday seasons.

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Comments 1

David O'Halloran on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 16:42

Great to see brands like Burger King try to use innovative techniques to promote their products but it's amazing how strategic companies will now have to become when considering how their campaigns could be hacked due to the same tech.

Great to see brands like Burger King try to use innovative techniques to promote their products but it's amazing how strategic companies will now have to become when considering how their campaigns could be hacked due to the same tech.
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