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Success in Simplicity

Posted At: April 8, 2013 1:48 P.M.
by Gillian Richard

Drawing attention to your company doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some of the more memorable campaigns are cost-effective and easy to implement. These tactics are useful, effective and most importantly, fun. While the elaborate campaigns have their worth, simple is sometimes better. All it takes is a little creativity.

My favorite example of creative simplicity is the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine. Coca-Cola placed these machines all over the world and set up cameras to watch reactions. Such promotions reap benefits from customer interaction. Each YouTube video has at least 10,000 views. Simple, yet effective.

Even something mundane, like going to the restroom, can be turned into a newsworthy event if it’s publicized right. Just ask Mario Lopez, who was named last year’s “King of the Throne” by Charmin, and performed the first flush in Times Square in the restrooms sponsored by the company. Charmin is a toilet tissue company, so sponsoring bathrooms during the holiday season isn’t exactly the brand thinking outside the Porta-Potty. However, throw in a celebrity and a staff who gets paid $10,000 each to represent the brand, and you have a notable campaign.

What about the recent prank that Jeff Gordon, along with his sponsor Pepsi Max, pulled on an innocent car salesman? The most important thing to note about all these promotions or “attention-getters” is that they don’t directly advertise their products, but still manage to bring attention to the company.

It’s all about taking something currently in place or popular and expounding on that. For instance, the Miami Heat was quick to jump on the Harlem Shake bandwagon.

Similarly, you probably hadn’t ever thought about the Harvard baseball team until this video showed up on YouTube. Showing personality gives your audiences a whole new perspective on your company. That may be just what it takes to make loyal customers, or in this case, fans.

These examples don’t introduce new products or people. We already know about them, so why do they get so much media attention and customer interaction? They show a different side to the companies. The companies can take their products seriously without taking themselves too seriously.

Building relationships is what PR is all about. Those relationships don’t have to be expensive. Key publics don’t have to be bought, and they are sometimes resistant to such efforts.

In PR, we strive to make connections with our target audiences. What’s interesting is that our target audiences want those connections with our companies as well. Do you have a favorite grocery store? One that you call “your” grocery store? Those types of associations are what we’re trying to accomplish through any kind of tactic we implement.

When I think of Coca-Cola now, I think about the happiness machine. Maybe now when you see Pepsi Max, you’ll think of the poor salesman trapped in the car with Jeff Gordon. Keep your approach simple, and you’ll see results in the relationships you build with your clients.


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    I had already seen each of those videos, and upon being reminded of them each one made me smile again without having to even click the link. I think you’re right about how effective these promotions can be if the strategy is well thought out; putting a smile on a person’s face is perhaps the fastest way to build a positive relationship. Too few companies – and especially big corporations – are too focused on the bottom line these days, but that just means the ones who can lighten up will stand out even more! Great article.


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