Frank PR founder: 'Unfortunately you need to offend people sometimes'

Graham Goodkind, founder of Frank PR, believes that brands should seek "objections, bans, and complaints" to give controversial PR stunts the oxygen they need and not worry about "collateral damage."

Graham Goodkind
Graham Goodkind

LONDON: Graham Goodkind, founder of Frank PR, believes that brands should seek "objections, bans, and complaints" to give controversial PR stunts the oxygen they need and not worry about "collateral damage."

Speaking at an Advertising Week Europe panel on how to produce controversial stunts and come up "smelling of roses," Goodkind said that "unfortunately you need to offend people sometimes."

Goodkind, whose agency has worked with controversial bookie Paddy Power, said, "You need to know your audience, know what will totally offend them, and you also have to be not particularly bothered about the collateral damage."

However, Goodkind said he believes brands can go too far, and companies should not create "controversy for controversy’s sake." He believes Paddy Power went beyond the pale with its ad about the Oscar Pistorius trial.

"I would argue heated discussions are quite good things for customers to have about your brand. There is a validity in controversy, but not all the time perhaps," he said. "To get your controversy right, you need to have relevance and understand what the news agenda is. A lot of engineered controversies are a lot more strategic than you might think. You need to think through every step and work out in advance what you are going to say."

Goodkind revealed that he was behind the massively controversial PR stunt for the "Burnout" computer game franchise, which offered to refund any speeding tickets the British public received on the day of release.

Members of parliament condemned the stunt following a Parliamentary question about it, although Goodkind claimed, "we were never going to do it, and we had statements planned with how we would withdraw it."

Goodkind also pointed out that PR stunts are a successful way of pushing negative stories or reviews down Google’s search rankings.

This story originally appeared on the website of Marketing.

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