PR team: Skywrite
Timescale: September-October 2008
Bragster bills itself as 'the online community for bragging and daring'. It is a website where people dare each other to perform crazy and offbeat stunts and then post them online in order to brag about them.
The site launched in 2006 but did not generate much coverage or media awareness. Skywrite was asked to relaunch the site with a big bang.
- To create mass awareness of bragster.com
- To generate buzz around the relaunch of the site
- To drive traffic to bragster.com
STRATEGY AND PLAN
In the spirit of the site, which has an anti-establishment and fun ethos, Skywrite decided to create a stunt that would be worth bragging about online. The team also wanted to help the site engage with consumers in a fun, lighthearted manner and encourage them to visit the website to see more.
Skywrite decided to target a well-known footfall area in London so the stunt would not only engage with passers-by, but would also hook in the London media and commuters on their way to and from work.
The stunt aimed to create a fun, harmless news story that would provide a welcome distraction from newspapers filled with gloomy stories about the global economic crisis and impending recession.
The team organised for a member of bragster.com to turn Trafalgar Square's famous fountains into a giant bubble bath. To make sure the activity was seen as the work of one individual, rather than being a PR stunt, Skywrite worked undercover with freelance journalists and photographers to cover the story then take it to picture and newsdesks of national and London media, and seed it online.
Skywrite then leaked the identity of 'Mr Bubbles' to the press a day later and set up interviews with him for the London and national media, to ensure the story carried on for an extra day and had a new hook.
This also drove people to the bragster.com website to find out more about Mr Bubbles and the stunt, and helped get people talking about Bragster as an online social community.
Measurement and evaluation
The story secured a full page in the Evening Standard, made the front page of London Lite and secured a half-page in thelondonpaper and Metro.
The London press fully covered both the stunt and the follow-up story giving away the identity of Mr Bubbles. In total the story appeared in 27 articles with an estimated reach of more than 41 million people and an AVE of nearly £100,000.
UK traffic to bragster.com increased by one third for a sustained period of five days. Direct traffic from the UK rose by 50 per cent for three days and has since remained at an increase of 30 per cent over direct traffic before the stunt.
SECOND OPINION - BENJAMIN WEBB, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DELIBERATE PR
The risks inherent in staging a stunt as public as this were numerous, with high potential for bored hacks opting to fill space with an account of a PR stunt gone wrong, replete with details of broken filtration systems, damaged historical monuments, and photos of doe-eyed civilians nursing injuries not seen since the launch of the Diana Memorial Fountain.
Yet Skywrite managed to take an old -school PR stunt - with potential pitfalls that would have dissuaded many agencies from pursuing beyond brainstorming stage - and develop it into a legitimate news splash that showcased its client's core offering, and drove legitimate web traffic in its soapy wake.
Creating a buffer zone between agency and national news and picture desks was a shrewd move, and undoubtedly ensured editors put aside their cynicism. Likewise, the leaking of the identity of the sud-loving perpetrator served to maintain momentum, capitalise on initial coverage, and keep media on-side.
Further traction might have been achieved through the simultaneous replication of the stunt in other British cities, but this is just a suggestion. Skywrite was working to a tight budget, and clearly considered the London media as a springboard for nationwide online chatter.
Perhaps an unintended but successful outcome was that Skywrite managed to provide a subversive counterbalance to the excellent (but ever-so-slightly-pretentious) plans for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.