While some might scoff them (ahem) in record-breaking time Wotsit, in my opinion, should be considered a masterclass in what PR can do to deliver content-rich stories that surprise, and are inescapable from conversation.
Is it wrong in a world where Black lives still don’t matter, where climate change protest is painted as a purview of middle-class kids with trust funds, where to be accepted as trans is still seen as the business of non-trans people, and where Pritti Patel believes turning children away at the cliffs is a demonstration of leadership that we all want? No, we all need a record-breaking Wotsit, right?
I believe that as a people, we all need moments of levity. To be able to zone out of this shitty version of The Truman Show for just a micro-second in order to refresh ourselves, like a laptop being turned on and off again.
The Big Idea
To launch its Wotsits Giants, which are twice the size of a normal Wotsit (my new tinder bio), Walkers decided to break a world record for a massive crisp, just over 10m long.
On the surface, this is an insanely simple idea.
But what I’ve found most impressive isn’t the scale but how easy it is to create multiple layers of content from this single simple story. And how flying in the face of the current news agenda proved its great strength.
What They Did
Created at the Walkers Crisps factory in Leicester, the stunt allowed PR people to deliver content in a hyper-controlled environment. It is not too long ago that we would have perhaps seen this record attempt in Trafalgar Square or, dare I say it, that park in front of Tower Bridge, which used to be a gay cruising ground.
Weighing the equivalent of 164 Wotsits and needing six people to hold it was also a sly nod to social distancing. They even nicknamed it ‘Wotzilla. I mean the level of “zero snacks given” is incredible and I am really here for it.
Great campaigns are simple ideas blown out of proportion. In my, and everyone else’s opinion, we creatives aren’t as unique as we lead people to believe.
When something is so easy to understand it could be pitched without words and just a stick drawing.
I can just imagine us – as a business – going in and pitching a massive purpose platform and campaign for this brand, only to be told on the phone that we’ve lost to Wotzilla. Devastating but a timely reminder that at its most base level, PR is joyful. PR is emotional. If a single story can provoke an equal amount of “not now Wotsits” as much as “Wotsits, the hero 2020 needs” then it’s golden (wonder).
Can it be a video? Can it be an interview? Can it be a sample? Can it be a stunt? Can it be its own twitter account? Could it be a billboard? Could it be a documentary? Could it be a TV advert? If the answer to all of these questions is yes – yes you can, then you’re on to an absolute winner.
One dimensional storytelling is the enemy of our future as an industry.
If you’re in the business of focusing just on the release and being caught out when people ask for video, then you haven’t created a compelling enough suite of assets. Fewer stories, more content, FEWER STORIES, MORE CONTENT.
According to the data I can scrape like a Russian vote fixer, searches for Wotsit-related content doubled on the day of launch. Sure, there was a sponsored tweet and undoubtedly there would have been some heavy promotional pushes through retailers BUT what I have no doubt about is that this was first and foremost a PR idea.
It just smells like a brainstorm I’ve been in a million times.
I am not a person who throws cold water on record attempts or Thames floaters simply because I think the only people who dislike that type of shit are PR people and they’re very rarely the end audience. That’s why I wanted to write this. I know if one of my team came up to me and said, “for that brief, we’re going to break a world record for a Wotsit” I would think (and this is me being totally honest) “is that the best we can do?”. I am always pleased to be proven wrong about the strength of not disappearing up our own purpose assholes. It may also just be because I love Wotsits, the king of crisps (in a world where Pringles, Discos, Monster Munch, Squares, and Nik Naks don’t exist).
This idea won’t win any awards but that’s more likely down to the fact that people won’t let it, rather than it being underserved.
I, for one, am pretty happy being associated with an industry that can still churn out this type of content but then I’ve always believed that for the most part, what we do is a bit silly.
Right now, the world needs more silly. The world needs a bigger Wotsit.