When it comes to successful PR stunts, everyone’s looking for that wow factor and something to make a lasting impression. Engaging people and making memories are what experiential marketing is all about and McDonald’s really went to town when a fantastic opportunity presented itself in Chicago…

The Chicago River goes green every year as 45 pounds of vegetable dye hits the water to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. It’s been a tradition for many years and although the colouring only lasts for 5 hours, McDonald’s were among many revellers making the most of the celebrations. In a massive lesson of ‘never missing a trick’, the fast food giant stepped in (and cashed in no doubt) with a fantastic publicity stunt that created a huge social media buzz, as well as a lasting memorable experience for anyone who saw it or heard about it.


So what did they do exactly? Well, like the best experiential marketing it was simple, accessible and engaging. They employed Brand Ambassadors dressed as leprechauns and a unique giant milkshake prop to announce that the ‘Shamrock Shake’ was on sale for a limited time. It’s a brilliant example of a PR stunt but it can’t really be classed as guerilla marketing because the initial concept was already in place and the green river was there for the taking. Ker-ching!

Social media went bonkers for this and everyone was talking about it – just another reminder that word of mouth advertising and people engagement is the most powerful tool we have in the marketing world. There’s so much more to determining the effectiveness of non-traditional marketing campaigns than standard impressions and CPM. Measuring success is about evaluating how far the story travels and the breadth and depth of exposure.

No longer is it about the number of people in a local area that see an advertisement on a billboard or TV. It’s not even about what the world of online and mobile can offer your brand. Experiential marketing is real-time, real-world stuff. It happens around you and shocks or wows you and these experiences multiply the impressions beyond compare. Stunts like the one McDonald’s pulled out of the bag last March break through the clutter to get people talking about you because they want to and because they’re inspired or affected by what you’re doing.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on info@hotcow.co.uk.