'You nearly killed me!' - from brilliant to disastrous... PR pitching in the 1970s

Speaking to PRWeek about PR in the 1970s, industry grandee Lord Chadlington gives two entertaining and insightful examples of how the PR pitch was different to today.

©GettyImages
©GettyImages

Pitches were "big set piece affairs" in the 1970s, Lord Chadlington says, as PR aped adland. "Some of these were absolutely brilliant and some of them were so disastrous."

'They were buccaneering days, but we had enormous fun' - Lord Chadlington on PR in the 1970s

A pitch he's "totally ashamed of" was for Lymes World Cheese. A giant ice sculpture was created, about three feet tall, featuring a brand logo and piece of the cheese inside.

It was a scorching hot day and as Chadlington started to speak, the sculpture began swaying before crashing down, missing the client's fingers by a centimetre.

"I said, 'I'm terribly, terribly sorry'. He said, 'you're sorry, you're sorry, you fucking nearly killed me!" Shandwick did not, unsurprisingly, win the business.

'Clunk, click', Bowie, Monty Python... 10 best PR campaigns of the 1970s

Another notable pitch was for hot sauce brand Tabasco. Keen to give the impression of scale, Chadlington asked the chairman of the ad agency that shared Shandwick's building to vacate during the pitch (the PR man footed the bill for the agency employees' lunch).

Shandwick branding was spread across the building. The receptionist called the phones repeatedly to suggest a thriving agency, and staff were asked to distribute their cigarette butts (everyone smoked in the office) so the agency appeared to occupy multiple floors.

Sadly, Shandwick's idea, themed around the film Some Like it Hot, was rejected.

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