Client: Birmingham Radio station BRMB
Campaign: ’Two Strangers and a Wedding’
PR Team: Mike Owen Media
Timescale: November 1998 -ongoing
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
The stunt generated a massive amount of media interest but was
criticised by many, especially the Church, which said it made a mockery
To get the public talking about BRMB and manage the media circus created
by the stunt.
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.
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
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
Whether it can sustain media interest in the couple will remain to be