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Gateshead billboard hostage stunt

To promote their new website, the advertising company SA Group staged a bizarre stunt in which they dangled a person in front of a billboard during rush hour last week. It caught my eye as I drove past, and I ended up Googling the company involved. Here cometh the company’s video of the stunt:

.swf?clip_id=13934926&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0″ />.swf?clip_id=13934926&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”>

“>Billboard Corruption PR Stunt from 37″>SA Group on Vimeo.

Yes, I know that the stunt has got me talking about and linking to the company and so in that sense has been a success, but I can’t help thinking that their Press Release about the event will ruffle a few feathers.

You’ll note their headline – “Newcastle Billboard Stunt” – and their claim that

Known as billboard corruption www.sagroupuk.com targeted rush hour traffic with a head turning billboard message supported with a live kidnap stunt where a person was suspended from the top of a billboard in Newcastle City Centre.

All very well, except for the minor fact that this happened in Gateshead, not Newcastle, and next to the B1600, not exactly the city centre of either Gateshead or Newcastle. They’re based in the North East themselves, so surely they know the difference?

And given that my attention wasn’t exactly focused on the poster’s logo, when I came to Google the stunt, it was very difficult to find any information as to who the advertiser was – as I naturally wasn’t searching for “Newcastle City Centre”, since it happened in a different city. Even substituting the city for Newcastle, only the narrowest possible search terms bring up any results – and then we’re talking about the above Vimeo video, rather than the company’s own site.

I’m sure their “billboard corruption” makes for wonderful PR, but these guys really need to work on their web approach. I don’t know whether they bought some AdWords nearer the time and I just missed the campaign, but surely I’m not the only one looking this up a couple of days later.

So, in summary: Eye catching stunt, geography and web strategy need some serious work.

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