In 2022, brands have had to be more creative than ever before to connect with their audiences in a meaningful way. Not only are PR teams having to break through a fast-paced news cycle, but they’re also competing with viral cat videos and butter boards in order to be the topic of conversation at the water cooler.
This is why PR campaigns have become more important than ever. A great PR campaign needs to be clever and not appear self-serving while still achieving the main objective — whether that be driving awareness of a new product or service or for audiences to regard a company in a positive light to create brand preference or increase credibility.
Here are some of the best PR campaigns we saw this year:
The Airbnb.org for Ukraine Campaign
Campaign Overview: Ukraine has been plagued with war for most of the year, with millions impacted with the loss of their homes and livelihood. Many brands and individuals alike have shown their support, including Airbnb. The company acted quickly to partner with international and regional nonprofits and governments, securing housing for up to 100,000 refugees free of charge. Through the campaign, more than 28,000 people signed up via Airbnb.org to offer temporary housing to others, while the Airbnb founders committed to matching donations up to $10 million.
What We Like About It: Airbnb moved quickly and selflessly. Its authenticity inspired others to follow suit in taking action as well and generated a large volume of user-generated social media content and traditional media coverage, putting the organization in a positive light. The act was true to the Airbnb.org vision, which is to create a world in which anyone can find a welcoming place to stay in times of crisis, and they were one of the first brand’s to make a move of this scale, instigating others to follow suit.
The LEGO Foundation’s MRI Model Campaign
Campaign Overview: This year, the LEGO Foundation donated 600 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner building kits to hospitals in order to help children overcome their fears of getting an MRI scan. The goal was that through play, the kits would help children have a better idea of what to expect during the process, which can be lengthy, loud and scary. The initiative was started in 2015 as a passion project for LEGO employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and Odense University Hospital in Denmark but it is now being scaled and piloted with new training material for hospital staff. Close to 100 hospitals across the world have already benefited from the use of the LEGO MRI Scanner thanks to Erik and his heartfelt dedication.
What We Like About It: This campaign tugs at the heartstrings. The goal was to use LEGO in a way that would have a tangible impact on children going through a scary moment in their lives, and it received an overwhelming response. In response to LEGO’s Erik Ullerlund Staehr sharing photos of him making one of the models himself on Twitter, MRI technicians at hospitals around the world took to the platform to see how they could obtain models for their own facilities, generating credibility for LEGO’s endeavours. The intention behind the project also resulted in media coverage from major outlets.
Penguin Random House’s Unburnable Book
Campaign Overview: Attempts to ban books from school libraries in America due to explicit or radical content were on track to rise again this year. In response to this, publisher Penguin Random House created an unburnable copy of Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel The Handmaid’s Tale — a book often mentioned in these discussions. Wrapped in a black cinefoil jacket, the book features white heat shield foil pages, nickel wire binding, stainless steel bands, and high-temperature adhesives to protect the freedom of expression. The book was placed on Sotheby’s auction, with proceeds promised to the not-for-profit group PEN America to continue their mission to protect free speech.
What We Like About It: PR campaigns don’t need to be costly — all you need is a great idea that can break through the noise and this is a great example of this. The publisher made only one copy, but the creation of the book itself and the choice of the book was enough to be impactful and generate headlines from major media.
ITV and eBay’s Second-Hand Wardrobe Campaign
Campaign Overview: For the latest season of Love Island, ITV partnered with eBay to dress the show’s contestants entirely in second-hand items in an effort to promote sustainable fashion. They brought a celebrity stylist on board to select and dress the contestants. Viewers could then explore eBay’s Preloved Fashion via the ‘Shop the Show’ tab on the official Love Island app.
What We Like About It: The campaign was in response to research done by eBay, with the company recognizing Love Island’s audience was in a key demographic for being friendlier towards the idea of pre-loved clothing — and knowing that they could be further influenced. eBay found that a fifth of Brits admit that they buy more second-hand fashion compared to two years ago and revealed on average, 16% of their wardrobes are made up of pre-loved clothes. As well, the research showed that those aged 18 to 34 have the highest average percentage of second-hand clothes in their wardrobe (22%), nearly double that of over-55s (12%). The campaign was praised by Ethical Hour, a global community and media platform helping people buy better, consume less and take action for real change, who described it as a "landmark moment for sustainable fashion," lending to the credibility of the intention behind the campaign.
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