It seems that we have entered a time of short, heartfelt (at times) YouTube videos becoming viral that in the end are just advertisements. Are we aware of this once the video is over and the corporation has left its imprint on our brain? Yes. Do we really care? Absolutely not. This trend to advertise PR stunts just may be the new age of advertising. Why pay for ad space when you can advertise a brilliant PR stunt that engage and entertain potential consumers? People are bored of the cookie-cutter ad in between shows and YouTube videos. They’re distracting, usually aren’t applicable to us, and, quite frankly, we’ve learned to zone them out until it cuts back to whatever brain-draining show we were consuming before. Maybe the traditional concept of advertising has become something of the past, that public relations and advertising are blurring into one another more now than ever.
Take, for example, the most recent Duracell bus stop in Montreal. The latest PR stunts entitled “Moments of Warmth,” Duracell builds a bus stop that, when passengers touch hands and create a link from one wall of the shelter to the other, heating lamps above begin to warm the stop. Within days, the video hit social media and the PR stunt went viral. Now in the case of batteries, brand loyalty may come and go. Usually, most of us go for the cheaper AA batteries on the shelf and don’t think too much into what’s powering our t.v. remote. Does the video tell you the pros of buying Duracell, if it will last longer than any other brand out there? No. But the entertainment found out of the video has the effect of a positive lingering memory associated with Duracell, making us more likely to reach for that now familiar name on the shelf. We went from seeing the price to seeing a name. Advertising of good PR, purely PR? The line blurs.
One that we might be more familiar with is Red Bull’s supersonic freefall from “space.” A PR stunt? Most definitely. This example pretty much falls under the same scenario as the previous on with Duracell, yet another PR stunt turned viral. Both companies funded these projects and were visibly being advertised. So the question remains- Do the viral videos that stem from these PR stunts count as advertising, or merely stay within the realm of PR?
Staff Writer. “Montreal Bus Shelter Warms Up When You Hold Hands”. Huffington Post Canada. (10, March 2014). http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/03/10/duracell-bus-shelter-ad-montreal_n_4937397.html
Staff Writer (JetSetCD). “Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull Stratos Space Jump Lives Again.”Jaunted. (18 February 2014). http://www.jaunted.com/story/2014/2/18/154158/816/travel/Felix+Baumgartner’s+Red+Bull+Stratos+Space+Jump+Lives+Again