CAMPAIGN: Guinness World Records raises the bar

Having sold over 100 million copies in 100 different countries, The Guinness Book of World Records is a record-breaker in its own right.

Campaign Guinness World Records Day
Client Guinness World Records
PR team In-house and TNR (a division of The Press Association)
Timescale May-November 2006
Budget Less than £30,000

In 2005, to celebrate its status as the world’s best-selling copyright book, the company launched the inaugural Guinness World Records Day – whereby the record for the most record att­empts on the same day is att­empted.

Following the success of 2005’s day, last year the org­anisation approached broadcast specialist TNR – a division of The Press Association – to develop an international TV and UK radio strategy for Guinness World Records Day 2006.

As well as promoting the day itself, the organisation wanted to publicise the 2007 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records, launched last autumn.

To showcase some of the ‘weird and wonderful’ records that people attempt in order to become an official Guinness World Record holder. To increase interest in, and sales of, the 2007 compendium.

Strategy and Plan
The most interesting Guinness World Records tend to be highly visual affairs. TNR’s strategy for gaining international TV coverage was to collect footage that demonstrated the varied attempts being made.

This footage included film of some of the organisation’s most zany record attempts: the most live rattlesnakes held in the mouth; the world’s smallest waist; the most ballet leg switches in a minute (attempted at London’s Trafalgar Square); the fastest ‘zorb’ (rolling down a hill inside an inflatable ball, in New Zealand); the largest line of Chinese whispers (in China); and the most concrete blocks smashed in one stack (Norway).

The footage was edited into highlights, and the team alerted inter­national media to the record attempts in their country and how they could get interview opportunities. Radio-wise, the comms challenge was more difficult. The PR team came up with a unique record attempt – which saw The Guinness Book of World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday and records manager Scott Christie conducting ‘the most radio interviews in 24 hours’.

Measurement and Evaluation
More than 80 TV stations used TNR’s footage, including broadcasters in France, Australia, South Africa, Japan and Sweden. In the UK, coverage included BBC Breakfast, GMTV, ITV, Sky News and Five.

The ‘radio interview’ record attempt was successful, with 54 spots in 24 hours, including most BBC regional stations. All campaign messages were conveyed in the interviews.

The 2007 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records was the top-selling book in the run-up to Christmas. BBC Radio Guernsey presenter Jim Cathcart, who interviewed Glenday and Christie for their record attempt, said his station was delighted to take part because all stations involved will be credited in the 2008 book.

‘Other PR companies could take a leaf out of TNR’s book,’ he adds. ‘The idea was well targeted, interactive and in tune with what BBC local radio is up to these days.’


Steve Leavesley (pictured, above)) is managing director of Radio Lynx:
The fact I can still recall this campaign some four months after the event can only be a good thing. Guinness World Records should be congratulated on its coverage and for achieving a world record of its own.

The opportunity for the radio stat­ions to be part of the world record attempt was a great idea, and was probably the main reason why most stations did the interviews. Doing 54 interviews in a day is impress­ive as a physical feat. But more impor­tant is the reach of those inter­views and if any were aired on national stations or news syndications. As ever with coverage, one needs a balance of quality and quantity.

On Guinness World Records Day, Capital FM sent the Breakfast show’s Paddy Bunce onto the roof for the interview record attempt. I don’t know if this was part of the official campaign or some­thing the station did off its own back, but it sounded great and dominated the programme.

Trying to get even more stations to do this type of activity would have made the campaign sound bigger, achieving greater cut-through and providing local press with a photo opportunity.

Just one down point: Guinness World Records created specific content for each international TV market. It was a smart move, but why stop at TV and radio? It had created great content and that should have been exploited online – placed on websites, or turned into video downloads and viral emails.

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