Public Relations & Marketing: Do the Heavy Lifting & Get the Bigger Result

Great article in The New York Times (at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/business/media/lacoste-recasts-itself-in-its-own-prestige.html) on Lacoste – which mentions a simple but great marketing tactic – Dressing the “wait staff, bus boys and valets at the Hamptons location of Nobu “…in clothing featuring the Lacoste logo, an open-jawed crocodile. (Not genius at all – one understands that upscale, influential people are going to the elite Japanese restaurant in the Hamptons – yet no one does things like that.)

As their marketer says: “As a consumer, you’re sitting there and Lacoste is all around you. But it’s not in your face screaming to you that there’s a branded moment here in the middle of your meal — it’s an elegantly disruptive activation.”  The article goes on to explain that “at the Soho House and two Hotel Gansevoort locations — all in Manhattan — also are wearing clothing provided free by Lacoste.”Over the last year, the agency has pursued a strategy of “aligning the brand with key cultural zeitgeists and influencers.”

Brands rarely like to get chances – it’s hard to get fired for advertising in the super bowl – but try something below the line and its risky.  Many brands and buyers take the easy and conventional path – rather than hiring a risqué Public Relations agency or marketer to work hard and do heavy lifting.  Often less expensive the right activities provide a much bigger bang if and when done right.

Some tactics to consider from this NY PR Firm CEO:

  • Seeding product? Give it away free to ad agencies, modelling companies, publicists, posh gyms – and anywhere people trendy are likely to be.  Offer free refrigerators or things which people will actually use – and for a low cost acquire great brand advocates.
  • Consider pop-up events around the “official” event.  We host an annual after-hours event at the Sundance film festival – where we simply rent a house and throw a great party when the “official” events are long finished. Offering a great private venue our brands get great access (and pictures), and our celebrity attendees – all of whom attend free of charge and stay for hours – have included Sean “Diddy” Combs, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Nick Cannon and many others.
  • Hire a celebrity to shop at a store and get “caught” by paparazzi buying your product.  Do it regularly and it will create a lot of hype if placed properly by your agency – and be much cheaper than paying for a celebrity image in mass market media.
  • Consider guerilla marketing, street theatre, polls and other attention getting maneuvers rather than the easy way out.

And just think, for something as basic as gifting the NOBU staff you may even get a great feature marketing story in The New York Times.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR a NY Public Relations agency.

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