Throw Back Thursday: Virgin Cola PR Stunt

Virgin group founder, Richard Branson, is known as the king of publicity stunts.  Each stunt is bigger and better than the previous one.  For throw back Thursday I am going to talk about a stunt Virgin group did for Virgin Cola back in 1998.  To kick off the launch of Virgin Cola in the US, Richard Branson drove a tank down Fifth Avenue and then “blew up” the Coca-Cola sign in Times Square.  Branson expected many years worth of feuds with Pepsi and Coke for the best soda drink.  Unfortunately sales of Virgin Cola fizzled out.  Now the drink can mainly be found on Virgin Atlantic flights.

richard_branson VIRGINCOLA Tank

Today Richard Branson and Virgin Group are still one of the leaders in publicity stunts doing everything from jumping off casinos to being the fasted to cross the English Channel.  Now many other companies are trying to keep up with them.



Bigger & Better PR Stunts

PR stunts or publicity stunt by dictionary definition is an event to get public attention for marketing purposes. When I think of a PR stunt I see people standing around staring at a giant object oohing and aahing. I know I would stare if I saw and M&M statue of liberty floating down the Hudson River. Would you?

M&M replica of the Statue of Liberty

M&M replica of the Statue of Liberty

These stunts are meant to be memorable and get people talking about them. They tend to be an event that is bigger and better than anything that has been done before.  A lot of the time Guinness world records are broken by PR stunts.

Estée Lauder set a new world record in October of 2010 for the most amount of landmarks illuminated for a cause in twenty-four hours. They illuminated thirty-eight landmarks pink in several different countries to promote breast cancer awareness.

Federation Square, Australia

Federation Square, Australia


Empire State Building, NYC


LAX Airport

Natural Balanced Pet Foods created the world’s longest float in the Tournament of Roses parade. The float even had a wave pool with surfing dogs.

Natural Balance Pet Foods Float

Natural Balance Pet Foods Float

With more and more companies aiming to break Guinness world records it makes me wonder if having a world record will become so common it will no longer be extraordinary. Any company can hire the people from Guinness for about $5,000. That doesn’t seem that expensive if it creates a buzz for the company. I remember reading all about the different world records when I was a kid but I do not think this is as popular today. I wonder if they even still publish a book each year with the records or if it is only online. I find PR stunts fascinating and hopefully they will begin to become more popular in the next few years.