CAMPAIGNS: A marriage made in media heaven - Broadcast PR

Client: Birmingham Radio station BRMB

Client: Birmingham Radio station BRMB



Campaign: ’Two Strangers and a Wedding’



PR Team: Mike Owen Media



Timescale: November 1998 -ongoing



Budget: Undisclosed



On 21 January Carla Germaine and Greg Cordell were selected from 210

people by the Birmingham-based radio station BRMB and married just four

days later as part of a publicity stunt dubbed ’Two Strangers and a

Wedding’.



The stunt generated a massive amount of media interest but was

criticised by many, especially the Church, which said it made a mockery

of marriage.



Objectives



To get the public talking about BRMB and manage the media circus created

by the stunt.



Tactics



BRMB decided to run the competition in November after an employee had

seen the same stunt executed in Australia. Aware of the controversy it

might cause, the station’s PR agency Mike Owen Media prepared answers to

any possible criticisms about arranged marriages.



In December, the agency ran a ’teaser’ campaign distributing flyers to

pubs, clubs and restaurants across Birmingham to encourage the public to

tune in for the launch. It also looked for media partners willing to

cover the stunt in return for interviews with the couple. Central

Television was the first to join up although one big local newspaper

rejected the offer.



The competition was launched on air just after Christmas and invited

listeners to come to auditions. The agency sent out a press release on

the launch and commissioned an independent TV producer to make a

documentary-style film of the proceedings.



Some 210 people turned up for the first audition on 2 January. By the

21st Germaine and Cordell had been selected and the wedding took place

on the 25th. Only one movie and one stills camera were allowed into the

church so Mike Owen Media employed a film distribution company to supply

the nation’s media with pictures of the service.



After the nuptials the couple was escorted to a press conference and

Cosmopolitan took wedding pictures for its April issue. The following

day the newlyweds appeared on GMTV to discuss their instant romance.

Mike Owen Media told the press that Germaine and Cordell were flying to

the Bahamas on honeymoon that day but to give them some privacy from the

paparazzi they were taken to a secret location and left a day later.



Results



Local media including the Birmingham Post picked up the story first

closely followed by virtually all the nationals from the Guardian and

the Daily Express to the Sun and the Daily Star. Coverage in the

broadcast media ranged from BBC Radio 4 and 5 and IRN, to the BBC’s 6

o’clock news bulletin.



Mike Owen Media is now handling bids from daytime television shows and

glossy magazines wanting interviews or fashion shoots. Invitations have

also arrived from both David Letterman and Jay Leno’s talk shows in the

US. It will not be known if the stunt has boosted BRMB’s listening

figures until later this year when RAJAR figures for the period are

published.



Verdict



BRMB was heavily criticised, not just by religious members of the

public, but many who felt the station was exploiting the institution of

marriage for cheap publicity.



However it was always part of the PR plan to court controversy; BRMB

wanted to be seen as a ’centre for talking points’. Mike Owen Media

succeeded in its objective of getting a regional radio station talked

about with massive amounts of local, national and international

coverage.



Whether it can sustain media interest in the couple will remain to be

seen.



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