How Innocent was the ‘Conker’ publicity stunt?

by

Innocent Conkers

The Coca-Cola owned brand Innocent, famous for its smoothies and juices, is a great recent example of how a communication’s team careful management of a publicity stunt gone wrong can save the reputation of the brand.

Running a very satirical social media narrative, Innocent have a habit of coming up with some “fake news” or stunt products such as ‘100% bits orange juice’ and ‘Marmite Smoothies’, however their autumn themed drink didn’t have the same success.

Innocent came up with the idea to poke fun at dairy free products by creating ‘Conker Milk’. They quickly received backlash as horse chestnuts are poisonous and could seriously harm those who consume them. Although they disclaimed they used edible chestnuts rather than horse chestnuts, people still didn’t really get the stunt.

They responded quickly announcing on Twitter their intentions for a clever advertisement and how it didn’t go to plan, tweeting ‘‘Hello everyone. Yesterday we made a mistake. Now we’re trying to put things right. Long story short: PLEASE DO NOT EAT OR MILK CONKERS

People forgave the brand rather quickly, responding lightly to their blunder, asking whether they should take the conkers out of the oven or if they should use acorns instead.

Innocent turned it into a campaign, urging people not to consume Conkers!

‘CONKERS. Don’t eat or milk them. In fact, avoid them at all costs, creating videos on how Conker Milk isn’t real and posting a fake campaign poster by the ‘Conkervatives’.

They made their message very clear. Innocent’s witty responses to their mistake and reiteration to not eat conkers, resulted in greater publicity than they previously imagined. This gave the brand the opportunity to shed light onto their very real and edible nut-based milk products.

Publicity stunts can be great to get people talking, to draw attention and create news but when they go wrong it’s crucial to handle it effectively. The results of a publicity stunt can be unpredictable so it’s important to take calculated risks every step of the way.

At Fuzion we love to push boundaries and be brave, and have done some stunts to create awareness of taboo subjects such as this Maxi Zoo stunt from their #ScoopThePoop campaign. However we always do a risk assessment (promise!!) before a stunt and we plan for the unexpected.

Innocent’s transparency and ability to make light of a situation, overshadowed their lack of thought and research behind the faux product. While their slip could have been detrimental, the bursting personality of their social media team saved the brands blushes and reputation.

Niamh 

Niamh Lawlor is a PR intern with Fuzion Communications, a full service PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork.

 

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