03 September 2020
Caroline Walker, Director of PR & Content

Will breaking a record build my brand?

Will breaking a record build my brand?

Crisp and snack brand Walkers has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest “Puffcorn” all in aid of launching Wotsits Giants. To announce its “whopping” 10.66m-long record-breaking snack, Walkers took to social media as well as sharing the news with traditional press.

Record-breaking stunts have been a tried-and-tested PR tactic and has helped brands grab headlines for decades and, as long as they have relevance to your brand, can help to secure a lasting legacy. Without the record, would Walkers have gained so much air time for Wotsits Giants? Quite possibly not.

When organising a PR launch for the national consumer media, you need a news hook or story angle to make it stand out and secure press coverage. Rarely does a new product launch alone make big news. Arguably, Wotsits Giants is not a new product, rather a different format for a snack that’s been around since the 1970s, and it isn’t even the first snack brand to “go big”. Hula Hoops launched Big Hoops in 2011 and Cadbury’s Giant Buttons have been on retail shelves for years.  

Investment and planning
Walkers certainly threw the kitchen sink at this launch with sizeable investment and planning involved from idea inception to execution and promotion. The record-breaking corn snack took a team of eight people just under two and a half hours to make. However, the teams involved will have been preparing long before. The brand enlisted factory staff to work out how to produce the biggest Wotsit, engaged Guinness World Records to verify and developed a full-scale media campaign – it even renamed the Walkers Twitter account as Wotsits Giants. When planning a huge stunt, there is no point in failing to make maximum impact.

Right place, right time
In a socially-distant 2020 that limits brand engagement through events and face-to-face experiential activity, Walkers’ record-breaking PR stunt provided them with video and news content that it could share online. Let us not forget that this campaign is fun. At a time when brands have been earnest in their messaging, and the news has been less than cheerful, this snack brand has provided light relief and the activity reflects exactly what Wotsits are founded on: it’s a bit cheesy, a bit silly and might not be to everyone’s taste.

What if it goes wrong?
Hanging a PR and marketing campaign on breaking a record, may seem risky. It takes a lot of coordination in order to be officiated and, depending on the nature of the event, simple factors like the weather can lead the best-laid plans awry.

Remember Richard Branson’s attempt to be the first to cross the Atlantic in a hot air balloon. The hotly anticipated launch and subsequent odyssey was fraught with issues, from the start and notoriously ended with a crash. It could’ve been disastrous for brand reputation, yet the event confirmed that aeroplane was the surest way to cross the Atlantic and achieved widespread media coverage for Virgin Atlantic for the duration of the mission. 

Do you want to be a record-breaker?
Investing time and resources into a stunt of this size can pay off, as long as you have clear objectives in mind, and it helps to build your brand reputation. We would always recommend using all platforms to communicate your efforts, from website takeovers, social media activity, advertising plans and press relations. Shout from the rooftops and make sure all of your customers and stakeholders know what you are doing. An integrated campaign combining promoted social media ads and press activity has helped Walkers to successfully raise awareness of their new snack and earned Wotsits a place in the record books, whether it pays off in sales remains to be seen.

To discuss tactics to build your brand awareness, please contact Caroline Walker on 01732 779 087


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