The last few weeks have been eventful to say the least from a political aspect. Silly-season may be over, but you would never have guessed it from the way some of the party conferences unfolded. One of the big talking points was the series of unfortunate events that unravelled during Theresa May’s keynote speech at the Tory Conference. Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Prime Minister, from letters falling off the strapline on the board behind her through to a prankster handing her a P45 on stage, the speech has been widely regarded as a bit of a disaster and not a great moment for the head of the government.

To top this all off, Mrs May was also unfortunate enough to have developed a nasty cough, which heavily affected her speech, causing her to regularly break to take a sip of water and even with Chancellor Phillip Hammond having to give her a lozenge to soothe her throat. This did not go unnoticed by her rivals, particularly SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who when giving her speech at the SNP Party conference declared that she had come ‘prepared’ for her speech, and then proceeded to reveal a packet of Strepsil lozenges, much to the delight of delegates.

From a PR perspective, this presented a fantastic opportunity for Strepsils. Firstly, to have your product plastered all over the media without having to lift a finger is probably the easiest piece of product placement any organisation will receive, while also having this placement come with the association of effectively dealing with coughs and humour only benefits the brand further.

The question then becomes, how can Strepsils continue riding this wave and make the most of the opportunity that has arisen? Well, there are a few examples that I think demonstrate how businesses can create successful campaigns on the back of political or media worthy events that have taken place. One brand that springs to mind is Specsavers; back when London hosted the 2012 Olympics, you might remember a Women’s football match that took place between North Korea and Columbia, when the North Korean players left the pitch in protest at national enemy South Korea’s flag appearing on stadium screens instead of the DPRK’s. Specsavers leapt on this opportunity; the opticians booked out a series of ad spaces in newspapers which depicted both the North and South Korean flag alongside the organisation’s catchphrase ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ written in Korean.

The stunt made waves across the media landscape, being shared at a huge level through social media and becoming a news story in itself. This is a fine example of how brands can utilise events that unfold around them and turn misdemeanours into a marketing success story. If I was in Strepsils PR team, as soon as Nicola Sturgeon pulled her stunt I would have been looking to take advantage immediately, booking advertising space and drawing up a strategy/campaign to exploit  the opportunity through the mainstream media and social media.

It’s rare that brands receive opportunities like the one that arose for Strepsils. While there may be understandable hesitation to jump on the back of controversial or political events, these can present huge opportunities for brands that could reap rewards for the organisation and ensure a great exposure through the press and to target markets. So, if your brand lands an unexpected chance to harness a media opportunity like this, don’t pass it up. Hunker down with the marketing team and develop a strategy to create as much of a buzz as possible.

Posted: 18/10/2017

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