Many of us watched Felix Baumgartner risk his life last weekend by jumping out of a balloon from 24 miles in the sky. And we were very impressed. It was crazy. It was attention-getting. It was a good news story. I know someone who’s pretty happy about it: the CEO of Red Bull, which sponsored Baumgartner. Now that’s good PR.
So it got me thinking. What kind of stunts could my small business dream up to sponsor? It would have to be something that would also attract a lot of eyeballs. It can’t be too expensive because I don’t have Red Bull’s deep pockets. And I’d definitely want it to be Philly-related.
1. Mud wrestling at the Society Hill Sheraton. I haven’t seen a good mud-wrestling match since John Candy in Stripes. What better venue to stage one than the lobby of one of our nicer city hotels? They’ve already set the bar with a recent wedding brawl, so why not step it up a notch? Take two brides. Strip off the dresses. Let ‘em wrestle in the lobby. Put my company’s name all over the event. Ka-ching! Maybe things’ll get so heated, the rest of the wedding parties will join in. And when the news trucks roll up, I’ll be handing out my business cards.
2. A Restricted-Lane Bike Race. How about I sponsor a bike race through the city where the riders can only use the marked bike lanes as their route? But here’s the catch: I’ll hire pranksters to park their cars in the lanes, or cut off bikers, or drive in the lanes when they’re not supposed to. I’ll hire pedestrians to inadvertently walk their dogs in the middle of the lanes and then yell obscenities at the bike riders when they try to pass. I’ll also throw in a few construction vehicles and churchgoers to park illegally in the lanes just because they feel like it and who’s going to tell them otherwise anyway? Oh wait, all that’s already happening? Darn. Ok. Let me think of something else.
3. The Amazing Taxi Driver Race. Here’s how it would work: We would randomly choose 10 taxi drivers at the Philadelphia airport and ask them to drive 10 of our customers to the King of Prussia Mall. We would give these orders in English only and provide no driving directions. Any customer who safely arrives within 24 hours wins a special prize. Sounds like a nail-biter, doesn’t it?
4. A Football-Carrying Contest. Everyone loves the Eagles, so let’s tie in football season with my business. I admit this idea came from someone else. First, I’ll select 25 customers. Then I’ll ask them to carry around a football all week, and if they fumble at any time, they’re disqualified. The one still carrying the ball at the end of the week wins a prize. I’m sure I can get some radio time on WIP to tell that story (and promote my business too!).
5. Where’s the Bust? I’d ask one of my one-percenter Main Line clients to donate one of their priceless busts of an historical figure to the cause. We’d hide the bust in an undisclosed, but obvious place … most likely a customer’s offices. And then: It’s scavenger hunt time! But this time our competitors are housekeepers from around the city. We can track their progress on Twitter and post updates to Facebook. Our clients can sponsor them like those kids in the Hunger Games. Everyone gets in on the fun! And the winning housekeeper gets a prize at the end. But only if she gives the bust back to its rightful owner.
6. The Firewalk. We all heard about Tony Robbins’s recent problems when a bunch of attendees at one of his “firewalk” events burned their feet walking across a bed of hot coals. Well how about a different kind of firewalk stunt to promote? We dress up a dozen brave volunteers in t-shirts supporting Mitt Romney (with our company’s logo on the back, of course) and set them loose to walk naively around certain parts of Philadelphia. Like … every part of Philadelphia! Risky? You bet. Like walking through fire, baby. The competitor who returns to my offices at 5 p.m. without any injuries or bodily fluids dumped on them wins a special award. And my business gets lots of PR.