As I was scrolling down my Twitter feed I saw the most unusual picture that instantly caught my eye. A polar bear walking across the Millennium bridge. Now at first, like everyone would, I thought someone had been a bit handy with Photoshop. I mean, the Justin Bieber Calvin Klein scenario taught us all that Photoshop can be great in ‘enhancing’ pictures. Little did I know, I had just come across Sky Atlantic’s new PR stunt.
Fortitude is a new drama starting on Sky Atlantic tonight, starring big names like Michael Gambon and Christopher Ecclestone. The 11-part epic is the most expensive British drama ever made. It is said to be the new Broadchurch, the popular drama on the rival network ITV. The producers wanted the drama to not be categorized as a cult TV show having no particular target audience. They want the show to be talked about and therefore engage a mainstream audience as seen with Broadchurch.
Even though this sounds as if the show has no target audience this simply isn’t true. Broadchurch was seen to attract teens to pensions a very wide audience but still an audience. In PR terms, being asked to target such a wide audience is a challenge indeed but it was achieved. Going to print media with the new TV show may have gained the show a little publicity on the TV guide section but that’s not what Sky wanted. The £30 million budget shows that Sky are passionate about the show and therefore the promotion needed to work. They needed to target a huge audience, not the small minority who might happen to look at whats on television Thursday night.
A fully animated polar bear walking freely around London did the trick. The creature took eight weeks to build by Hollywood specialists and takes two people to operate. The idea was to bring people face-to-face with a creature that is “one of the unaccredited stars of our new show” said Zai Bennet, Director of Sky Atlantic. They wanted to create a stunt that would target widely and one simple platform with a wide audience is social media. They succeed and social media went wild. Tweets going out had the hash-tag #Fortitude and within minutes print media caught on to the stunt.
The campaign gained national coverage with the PR stunt. Even though this PR stunt was small it was thought out well, choosing locations like the tube, Millennium bridge and Southbank all well-known landmarks of the city. The organisations knew that by choosing these locations they would engage a business man walking across the bridge to work or a child getting on the tube to school. It also shows how social media is now being used as one of the main promotional platforms. Years ago, the PR team would have contacted a journalist and battled to get them to write about the stunt. PR has now cut out the middle man. Social media is effective, faster and dare I say it more reliable than a journalist. All in all, Sky Atlantic succeed endless promotion from digital media which consequently equaled to print media coverage clearly showing how to do a PR stunt well.