Publicity Stunt (© ivanko80 /
Publicity Stunt (© ivanko80 /

The term publicity stunt is well known. It is used on television and in movies quite a bit, so most people have become familiar with the term. In addition, publicity stunts happen all the time in real life. But how do you understand the term completely and why does it have such negative connotations in today’s society? We will be looking at all of these factors as well as the actual publicity stunt.


What is a Publicity Stunt?

So, what exactly is a publicity stunt? Simply put, a publicity stunt is something done to get attention. The methods can vary, which can sometimes make a publicity stunt difficult to define. The phrase “you’ll know it when you see it” is probably an accurate description. The publicity stunt is interesting because there are so many unique facets. For example, the publicity stunt may be set up by an amateur or professional team. The company may be behind the publicity stunt, or you may be loyal customers that set up the stunt themselves. Publicity stunts can be something very small with local media coverage or they can be extremely large looking for national coverage. There are just so many different facets that it makes understanding them a little difficult. In order to go a little deeper, let’s take a look at some of the most well-known publicity stunts out there.

Publicity Stunt Examples

Here are some examples of some great publicity stunts that most people are familiar with. These are done by different companies and for different purposes, but they definitely can be classified as publicity stunts.

One example that was promoted by the news media and even had a documentary created about it was the Red Bull publicity stunt of having Felix Baumgartner jump 23 miles from the stratosphere to the Earth below in 2012. The live event was watched on YouTube by 8 million people.

If you watch YouTube, you are probably familiar with the ice bucket challenge. This was a publicity stunt conceived by Pete Frates, one of the people in the United States diagnosed with ALS – or Lou Gehrig’s disease – and the challenge itself was intended to benefit ALS. It worked, spreading virally, and raising a great deal of money for ALS.

The famous Marilyn Monroe picture with her skirt blowing up was actually a publicity stunt that was conceived by movie publicists. She didn’t know that that was what was going to happen. She had attended a photo call for a movie called The Seven Year Itch, and there was a hidden wind machine beneath the grate that made her skirt blow up.

The famous bicycle race Tour de France was actually a publicity stunt conceived 100 years ago by a man named Henri Desgrange who was promoting L’Auto, the newspaper he worked for.

Expert Advice: How to Perform an Effective Publicity Stunt

If you want to have a successful publicity stunt here are some tips from the experts.

  • Avoid corporate branding. Since you know that video and pictures are going to happen, it can be tempting to put your corporate logo on your stunt. But it will be much more effective if you do not.
  • Make sure that your publicity stunt is completely original. You don’t want to do something that someone else is done before because people have seen it.
  • Most of all make sure that your publicity stunt is entertaining. Just like a viral video, your publicity stunt has to entertain the people that are seeing it or else it will not garner the kind publicity you want.


When it comes to publicity stunts, there are all kinds and sorts out there. There stunts that are dangerous, visually exciting, surprising, large, small and everything in between. Yours can be anything you want as long as it is completely original and is entertaining to those who see it so that the message spreads.

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