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Is the Flash Mob Dead? PR Stunts for the 2020s

Capturing a client’s attention has been the number one challenge for most businesses. Did you know that 75% of all convention-goers felt way more connected to a brand after an in-person marketing event?  

This tells us that live events are still the way to go, though we have to admit the more outrageous ones definitely get more people’s attention. And by outrageous we’re talking about flash mobs!

But are flash mobs the “thing-to-do” these days or are there better PR stunt ideas out there? Is marketing with events better as an advanced marketing strategy? 

Find out this and more (including some PR stunt risks and rewards) below! Stick around till the end for some tips on nailing your marketing ideas.

What Is a PR Stunt? 

A PR stunt is a fun and eye-catching event that is planned by marketers or public relations professionals to get people to pay attention, build brand awareness, and bring in new stakeholders. If done properly, it’s a public relations trend that never disappoints.

A PR stunt differs from a more traditional marketing campaign in that it’s unconventional and original. Think out-of-the-box approaches and situations that leave someone thinking “what did I just experience?” When a stunt becomes popular and receives in-depth attention on social media, TV, or industry-specific publications, it has succeeded.

Keep in mind that PR stunts also typically try to aim for targeted clients wherever possible, since they’re appealing to a very specific group.

Why Do PR Stunts Work?

While you may find people who dismiss PR stunts as gaudy or even overdone, they still work. More than that, they come with a host of unique advantages.

First, you get the chance to stand out from the crowd and showcase your brand’s unique identity. Sure, you could do this with flyers and leaflets, but when was the last time you looked at a flyer that came through your postbox? What was the company and what did they sell? We’ll wait. 

Can’t remember? 

It’s not a surprise, and it’s not a reflection on you. These days, consumers and buyers are so overwhelmed with choice that it’s all too easy to get lost in the noise of consumerism and marketing. PR stunts help break that heavy curtain of apathy and, hopefully, help people see you, especially if you’re launching a new product.

What we will say though, is that if you’re going to do a PR stunt, do it well. Here are a few tips for nailing your PR stunt goals:

  • Get into the client’s mind
  • Think of something unique that reflects your message
  • Use social media
  • Don’t discount traditional media

Don’t be like these people. Plan for the worst and expect the best.

PR Stunts of the Past

On the topic of PR stunts, let’s talk about some that have actually worked really well. They’ve been effective, gained a lot of traction for the companies behind them, and catapulted their brands into internet stardom, with viral videos and celebrity features all around.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Back in 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge exploded onto the scene and it was something that everyone eagerly adopted, including celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, Justin Bieber, and even Henry Cavill (dress as Superman, no less).

The global campaign not only increased the world’s understanding of the ALS condition, it raised a massive amount of money through donations and gifts. In fact, they’re still feeling the benefits of it today, which goes to show that PR stunts can have a lot of impact.

The Red Bull Space Dive

While Red Bull may give you wings, it certainly doesn’t mean you should jump from the edge of space, as Felix Baumgartner did in 2012. This was an effort of many years of hard work and while not an explicit marketing campaign, it was a PR stunt that catapulted Red Bull even higher into the stratosphere. 

See what we did there? 

Their goal was to prove the safety of aerospace engineering and test the limits of human ability. As an energy drink, it sure fits. And millions of people all over the world tuned in to watch. Talk about brand exposure!

Flash Mob Famous

So there you are, minding your own business, having a drink at a coffee shop when bam! Out of nowhere, people are singing and dancing and jumping on tables. No, this is not a scene from High School Musical. It’s a flash mob. 

There have been some pretty big ones over the years and the basic idea around them is to get people looking and watching. Some are meant to entertain, some to educate, and some purely for the sake of getting the word out there. What the word is, exactly, we’re not sure, but they were effective in their day. 

While they’re still popular, there is some speculation that we’re so used to them now that we actually make a point of NOT engaging with them, which sort of defeats the point.

Designing a Fresh Marketing Event

At the end of the day, a PR stunt could either work really well or be something that hangs around like a foul smell for years to come. It doesn’t matter how clever the idea is if it’s not executed well. 

When you’re designing your PR stunt, keep a few important things in mind. Purpose and intent are everything, and this needs to be at the core of your process but make sure you’re weighing up the risk of results, otherwise, you’re going to end up like Build a Bear. Remember, don’t be like those guys!

Keep these tips in the back of your mind and you’ll be golden:

  • Piggyback on news stories and current events
  • Make a scene and be bold
  • Make it memorable
  • Drive engagement both locally and online
  • Timing is key
  • Check for facts and sense

Crafting Unforgettable Marketing Events

Publicity is not inherently good or bad, it’s what you do with it that counts. It’s something that could catapult your brand to success or be the catalyst for a reputation breaker that sticks around for years. 

When you’re planning your next marketing event, be it a PR stunt or experiential marketing in general, make sure you’re prepared to deliver an impeccable brand experience. The best way to do that is to work with a partner that knows what they’re doing. 


That’s where Auctus Agency comes in, with years of experience in public relations and event staffing. Get in touch with us today and let’s plan something truly spectacular.