PR-ing Prince George

THE PUBLIC Relations universe jumped on the international clamour to catch sight of the new royal baby this week.

It’s hardly surprising, I guess.

The birth of Prince George, as we now know him to be called, was an unrivalled global photo opportunity, a huge chance to piggyback a brand or a product on the coat-tails of the biggest celebrity news story of the year so far.

Every self-respecting PR director in the western world was on full alert and hastily arranged meetings were called to cover off every single opportunity to shave off even the thinnest sliver of that considerable publicity pie.

Maybe the industry was buoyed by the fact that the new Royal baby’s title is kicked off by the letters ‘PR’. That’s practically a red rag to a bull in publicity terms isn’t it?

But as the news cameras rolled outside the Lindo Ward in London and social networks lit up like a cheap Amsterdam hooker’s boudoir, furtive attempts to cash-in PR chips were already in advanced stages among the doctors of spin.

And it wasn’t just the public relations glitterati who seized the day – every Tom, Dick, Harry and George with a product or service to sell took the chance to showcase their wares to a captive TV audience of billions.

It was the biggest corporate car boot sale we’ve seen in the UK for decades, a huge street market cashing in on the renewed sense of national pride.

So who won?

Well, everyone, really.

Bored TV anchors – there’s only so many ways you can describe a plain wooden hospital door before you become delirious – were happy for any and every distraction, even those ones with the flimsiest of royal connections.

Cue a procession of what, under normal circumstances, would be considered tacky, commercial consumerism masquerading as Brits showing off their royalist stripes in honour of their (future) king and country.

Let’s be fair here. There were some very clever uses of the opportunity to cash in.

Smartphone companies suddenly released a flurry of dozens of royal-themed apps, including ones that allowed you to transform photographs of your own children into little princes and princesses.

There were even new smartphone games with royal links inspired by the future monarch, including “Royal Baby Slot Machine” and “Royal Baby Run”.

Bookmaker Paddy Power consolidated its reputation for relishing an easy PR hit by taking bets on the future monarch’s name and then, inexplicably, dressed four men as grotesque ‘adult babies’ dispatching them to London’s underground train network, where they drew shrieks of genuine horror from commuters. Disturbing, hilarious and the company’s name in lights – PR gold.

The Sun, Britain’s top-selling tabloid newspaper, decided it was time for a little royal-themed mischief to break the boredom of the national baby-wait. So, on the Friday before the royal birth, the paper sent two royal lookalikes to the Lindo Wing, where they were illuminated by a thousand desperate paparazzi flash-guns as they walked up the steps – only to turn around and reveal that they were actors wearing Sun t-shirts.

And I can just imagine the gaggles of creative directors busily scratching their heads in darkened boardrooms in a bid to come up with some cunning plan to match the inspirational antics of the previous day, when a feminist activist briefly took the Sun’s hospital live-cam ‘hostage’ to protest against the tabloid’s use of topless models.

Who says Britain doesn’t have a sense of humour?

Check out some of the best tactical ads by brands around the royal baby event here.

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