2019 was certainly not a quiet year in the media world. In fact sometimes it’s felt like the press and social media have leaped from one PR disaster to another. There’s been some great wins, too, so here’s Clarity’s look globally at some of the top stories and creative stunts of 2019.
January – Greggs
British bakers Greggs launched their Vegan sausage roll right at the start of January – owning Veganuary. But it was their trolling of former CNN presenter and breakfast TV host Piers Morgan with this tweet that really made the story. Hitting all your PR targets for the year on January 2nd – awesome.
Oh hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you
— Greggs (@GreggsOfficial) January 2, 2019
February – Huawei Mate X
Huawei wowed the world – and got the jump on Samsung – by revealing their Mate X folding phone ahead of MWC. Just a shame for them that a few months later Trump’s trade war with China had cost their relationship with Android, leaving the company out in the cold.
March – TikTok
TikTok hit over 1 Billion in downloads at the start of the year and ended with over 1.5 Billion views becoming the breakout social media star of the past 2 years. Influencers have had their issues this year (with the Fyre festival documentary coming out in January) but new TikTok stars like 15-year-old Charli D’amelio earning thousands of dollars per post.
April – Samsung Galaxy Fold
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold initially got great reviews and notes from the journalists we know…. at first. But by April the phones were starting to break after early users tried to removed the protective screen, causing Samsung to pull the release of their star product.
May – Embarrassing Plastic Bags
Canadian shop East West Market came up with a novel way to shame users from using single-use plastic bags – make them as embarrassing as possible. The genius idea was picked up all over the world.
June – Led by Donkeys
Trump’s visit to the UK was seized on by Led By Donkeys. Within moments of the US President landing in the UK he was already being trolled by the disruptive organization.
July – Paddy Power
Our UK team loved this stunt from betting firm Paddy Power. Announcing one of the most over-the-top and hideous football kits of all time, they then went on to reveal an ‘unsponsorship’ removing their brand entirely to ‘give shirts back to the fans’.
August – Greta crosses the Atlantic
Greta Thunberg lives her principals and, by crossing the Atlantic in a zero-emission yacht to attend the United Nations climate summit, drew even more attention to climate change. While there’s perhaps some cynicism that she is a ‘media creation’, by the end of the year she had become a best-selling author and Time Magazine’s person of the year.
More subtle was this online stunt from the University of Reading – showing global warming in an infographic for each geographical location. Clever and shocking you can take a look at yours at https://showyourstripes.info/ – Here’s the warming stripes for California from 1895 – 2018.
September – Samuel L. Alexa
If you’ve got the budget of Jeff Bezos, then why not get in Samuel L. Jackson to voice Alexa. Possibly playing on an 80 Gumdrops viral spoof from 2 years ago, nonetheless, it was an impressive use of a celebrity’s dulcet tones.
October – Female Role Models
2019 had its fair share of role models falling from grace in the so-called ‘Techlash’. Whether it was the trail of Elizabeth Holmes for Theranos, Greek STEM hero Eleni Antoniadou or One Coin founder Dr Ruja Ignatova, 2019 showed us that sometimes things in tech are not all they seem. We highly recommend the Bad Blood book on Theranos or the BBC’s ‘Missing Crypto Queen’ podcast to learn more on how these figures built their alleged scams.
November – Highlighting Prince Andrew
The less said on Prince Andrew’s car crash interview, the better (though if you want more – read our blog post). We’re not sure if this is an official advert for Staedtler, but whoever came up with this – it’s genius.
December had its fair share of fails – from WeWork’s issues, Magic Leap’s poor sales to Peloton’s sexiest advert wiping $1 billion in value from the company overnight. But we loved how fast Ryan Reynold’s team at Aviation Gin turned this cheeky news hijack around:
2019 has definitely been lively – and that’s before adding any phone calls with Ukraine into the mix. But we hope you’ve enjoyed our wrap of the year and look forward to new a decade of creative PR in 2020.