Or are they? Case in point, since the arrival of Youtube and various other social mediums, the publicity stunt has become more and more subtle. Witchery had us believing that a true life Cinderella had lost her new love (nobody questioned why they thought blokes would want to wear Witchery, but that's another piece).
|From Strepsils Website|
My former employer, Coca-Cola wanted to harness the young into joining the 'Zero Movement'. Bundy Rum denied that they were behind the shock-horror backlash, when they were considering dumping the Bundy Bear from their labeling. Trouble was, their paw prints were all over the mass protest FaceBook page which appeared a few minutes later.
This leads us to Strepsils. Strepsils, are one of those products through no fault of their own don't really stand out as a happenin' thing. When I think of cough lollies, I think of Fisherman's Friends, Butter Menthol, Soothers, and those strange, but highly addictive Irish Moss. I even remember SOS Cough Drops, that were banned from my school when the principal discovered they contained a 0.00000001% alcohol content.
Strepsils have come up with a neat Guerilla campaign that involves their agency 'Eardrum' hiring actors to phone up talk radio, and repeatedly work the brand name into the conversation. It worked. For a while at least, and managed to get through several announcers, including John Laws. It was entertaining (you can hear the audio at Mumbrella who originally broke the radio story), but soon were unmasked, and this is where things became interesting.
Five days later, and News Ltd run a story about a man sacked from his job for sucking on a cough lolly under the title 'Sucking a Strepsils cost me my job'. The man in question was Dennis Veal ... who worked for a large meat processor.
A week or so later, 2GB's Chris Smith interviewed Mr Veal. A few seconds into the interview, and the subject started to move onto the brand in question ...... any clues? Chris proceeded to quiz the sacked 'worker' as to what type of Strepsils he preferred. Why? Are their even flavours of Strepsils? Who cares?????
But, the Strepsil-fest continued, with Chris at the end questioning as to whether this just may have been part of the ongoing guerrilla campaign, before playing the entire audio clip of those that had come before him.
Fast forward two weeks or so, and the Sydney Morning Herald, in it's letters section, features an average punter who went to the Bob Dylan concert and stated "Too many shows in too few days sent us reaching for the Strepsils."
This isn't Media Watch, so I'm not going to raise the question as why or how these plugs seeped through the net of media who would or should normally be on the lookout for such blatant attempts.
When it comes to stealth marketing, I've always been of the opinion that once the gig's up, it's over. Everyone laughs, a few people get embarrassed, and the brand owners either deny or admit to the game. Not in this case, and I get the feeling this could continue until the break of spring.
As both a buyer and seller of media would I take part in a stealth campaign? I'm not really in the business of selling this type of promotional campaign, but I'd have trouble recommending it. Too hard to measure and maintain, plus there's a chance it could go horribly wrong. Nor would I be comfortable about participating in one. Fun to start with, but somewhere along the way there would be tears.
Then again, it doesn't seem to have done Strepsils too much harm. And last time I checked Coke Zero and Bundy are still on the shelves, and doing just nicely ........