My 2008 PR Year in Review

09 December 2008

Well it’s been a little over 15 months since I last posted and since then the world has been flipped on its head. Is it all a massive coincidence that since my last post the economy headed south, Britney Spears got back on top of her game, and the Toronto Maple Leafs started doing better than the Ottawa Senators? I’m not saying that this blog has the power to keep the world on its axis…but then again maybe I am. With that in mind, here are the top three PR stories from 2008 that I found interesting, buzz worthy or just plain awesome…

1. The Singing Road from Honda

In Lancaster, CA Honda created a singing road that plays the William Tell Overture (better known as the theme from the Lone Ranger) when a Honda Civic’s tires rolled over the road at 55 MPH. The road quickly became a tourist attraction and complaints from local residents over the noise it created prompted city officials to pave over it. However, the amount of positive media coverage garnered from the campaign was incredible. It was truly a different way to get people talking…or in this case singing.

 2. Dr. Pepper delivers the elixer to fans of Guns n’ Roses

Back in March, Dr. Pepper offered to give a free can of their elixer to everyone in America if Guns n’ Roses released their long awaited album, Chinese Democracy, anytime in 2008. Well, fast forward to November and the unexpected happens as G n’ R release the album. Dr. Pepper made good on their claim by setting up a web site where Americans could redeem the offer for one day only. However, the beverage maker got into hot water when the web site had too much traffic and crashed, leaving many without a perscription from the Doctor. The promotion was extended by one day in hopes of ensuring everyone who wanted to was able to cash in on the offer. Despite the backlash from Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose over what he and his lawyers called, “an unmitigated disaster which defradauded customers,” I believe the Dr. Pepper campaign was a true success as it created an unbelieveable amount of coverage for both the Dr. Pepper brand and the release of Chinese Democracy.

 3. The Big Three CEOs taking cars to ask Congress for a bailout

After a Congressional hearing in which all three CEOs of the Big Three car companies flew in separate private jets to ask for a tax-payer funded federal financial bailout, the media backlash was immediate. The negative stories from the media triggered a change of heart from the company heads. Last week the Big Three returned to Washington, this time ditching the corporate jets for a more econonmical alternative…their own cars. This is just another example of how the optics of a very touchy situation are incredibly crucial to winning public support.

 Starting in January 2009, my colleague Anil Dilawri and I are going to be starting Podcast that will be housed here in which we will be discussing all things communications. Our goal is to start a discussion about relevent communications topics that are affecting us on a daily basis and will include a variety of guest appearences. Watch this space!

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