By Amy Sarnell

It’s essential to approach big ideas with careful consideration and strategic planning. While they have the potential for significant rewards, they also come with risks, including budget implications and the need for flawless execution. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that big ideas align with the overall goals and objectives of the PR campaign, resonate with the target audience, and are executed with precision and sensitivity. When done effectively, big ideas can indeed be worth the investment in public relations.

The creative element of any pr campaign is by far one of the most enjoyable aspects for me. The concept of the “big idea” is crucial in PR and marketing, as they have the potential to capture attention, generate buzz, and leave a lasting impact on audiences. However they can also come with risks and nothing is a guarantee.

During my twenty plus year career as a PR executive at a movie studio, we were constantly encouraged to think “outside the box, ” and asked to come up with bold ideas in capturing attention and generating buzz for our films.    

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Surprise Performance by Eminem: Organizing a surprise performance by Eminem after an advance screening of “8 Mile” at Michigan State was a stroke of genius. Not only did it create excitement among the students who attended the screening, but it also generated widespread buzz and media coverage. Eminem’s surprise concert likely sparked conversations both on and offline, effectively amplifying the promotion of the movie.
  • Scantily Clad Women Delivering Apple Pies to Howard Stern: This stunt tied directly into the theme of “American Pie” and caught the attention of both Howard Stern’s audience and the broader public. The juxtaposition of scantily clad women delivering apple pies was attention-grabbing and memorable, ensuring that the movie remained top of mind for Stern’s listeners and the media who after the stunt covered the event.
  • Actors Dressed as Mummies Outside the Today Show Windows: Using 30 actors dressed up as mummies to create buzz for “The Mummy” franchise was a clever way to tie the promotional stunt directly to the theme of the movie. By staging the event outside the Today Show windows at 30 Rock, we ensured maximum visibility and exposure to a large audience. The visual impact of seeing mummies in a prominent location like Rockefeller Center undoubtedly generated curiosity and conversation, effectively kickstarting the promotion for the movie.

Overall, the Big Ideas logistically worked.  By leveraging generous budgets and bold ideas, we were able to create memorable experiences that captured attention and generated buzz. Did they ultimately contribute to the success of the films?  How do we qualify that? Determining the direct impact of specific PR stunts on the success of a film can be challenging due to many factors. But in an industry as dynamic and competitive as entertainment, creating memorable moments and engaging experiences is often a victory in itself. 

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