Crown Carveries is a relatively new brand for Mitchells & Butlers, created late last year. For its second PR campaign, handled by Willoughby PR, the chain unveiled a search for ‘kings and
queens' of the local communities around its 109 pubs. The competition began in early April with material in each of the pubs, plus local media coverage, announcing the appeal for nominations.
The company picked 67 winners in May from the 159 nominations. Winners included a prolific foster mum, a soldier on the brink of deployment to Afghanistan and a woman who converted an allotment into a garden for the visually impaired and those with special needs. The winners were
literally ‘crowned' and treated to a free meal at their local pub. Local media got behind the
campaign, with 99 pieces of coverage, many of which quoted individual landlords. More
is anticipated, as a further ten regional winners are expected to be announced.
With the febrile atmosphere of the G20 demonstrations playing out as a backdrop,
Pernod-Ricard launched a campaign in March for its Absolut vodka brand. Seeking to further underline its heritage as radical and creative, the brand was the subject of a TV ad that
re-imagined the world as a more peaceful place, with G20 protesters expressing themselves via pillow fights. The following month's activity was timed to appear just before the Budget.
A cinema ad posed the idea of using acts of kindness as currency instead of money. The following week, teams from the brand's experiential agency, Iris, went on to the streets and into the bars and cinemas of London to encourage people to give smiles, hugs or ‘high
fives' in exchange for food, newspapers or drinks.
PR agency PagetBaker set up coverage in thelondonpaper on the Thursday of that week, covering the day's activity in a bar and flagging that the team would be at Soho's Berwick Street market the following evening. Twitter and Facebook content was also built up.
Mark Hamilton, head of marketing for vodka at Pernod-Ricard, explains: ‘We wanted to put a smile on people's faces. Absolut is more than just a vodka; it's a way of life, and this seemed like a good way to communicate that attitude to people.'
‘We are very conscious of the fact that people are struggling financially, but in a recession people tend to become more community aware.'
Hamilton adds that he felt vindicated by the approach when a vicar contacted the company asking for a copy of the kindness ad to show to his congregation.
Hotels.com's campaign is a great illustration of the value of periodically asking the marketing or customer service department if it has noticed any recent changes in buying patterns. PR agency Seventy Seven PR followed up a hunch early in the year that more people might be booking onenight breaks in place of longer holidays. On examining the figures, it emerged this was indeed the case. The agency then came up with the ‘nanobreaks' concept and, in February, sold in a story based on the idea of shortof-cash Brits determined
to take a holiday, however short. Media coverage of this new recession angle was significant,
including double-page spreads in thelondonpaper and The Sun, prompting Hotels.com to look for ways to expand the concept. Last month digital agency Content and Motion launched a competition on a microsite attached to the main Hotels.com site (www.hotels.co.uk/hotel-deals/nanobreak), challenging travellers to send in pictures (via Flickr), video (on You Tube) and Twitter updates (‘Nanologs') on their nanobreaks to compete for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. This was supported by a campaign targeting the kind of social media contributors who tend to write about travel. Another wave of offline coverage was generated to back the microsite launch by releasing a story showing the further rise in searches for one-night breaks, plus a list of top ten destinations for nanobreaks.