Thingish Things

Royal Stunts

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Apr• 17•11

There’s something about a good old-fashioned publicity stunt that makes me want to jump up and cheer –  to call every single person I know to tell them about this most amazing thing going on.

Taco Bell has to win the prize for best stunt ever:  When the Mir space station was plummeting to earth in early 2001, it floated a small target in the middle of the South Pacific and promised to give every American a free taco if the thing hit the sign. Genius.  Bliss!

A friend once called to say that she had been offered to help judge the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest.  Should she do it? I almost fell off my chair.  I would walk to Coney Island from Cincinnati to do that.  I would rather judge that contest than flip the coin at the Superbowl.  Seriously.  (She’s mad at me for convincing her to do it. Said it was “gross.”)

I don’t know what this thrill is about.  But I know I’m not the only one who feels it.  A former colleague who ran press on a gubernatorial campaign in the mid-1970’s once told me an hysterical story.   His candidate was  rich, smart, and B-O-R-I-N-G.  And he tended to give Fidel-Castro-length speeches, nothing under an hour.

One day on the campaign trail, he was delivering one of his trademark, mind-numbing policy speeches when an ice cream truck down the street exploded.  Frozen custard was sprayed everywhere; it was hanging from tree branches, splattered across car windshields — everywhere. And there were kids around to appreciate it. My friend had spent days inviting reporters and television camera crews to attend this speech, and he watched as one crew after another drifted away from his candidate to cover this spectacular occurrence.  And why did the press cover that instead of a significant policy address that might impact tens of thousands of Americans?  Because AN ICE CREAM TRUCK BLEW UP!

I often recall that story to young press people looking for advice.  No matter how good you think your event might be, Burger King might re-release its left-handed Whopper or a tomato that looks like  Mahatma Gandhi might suddenly be discovered.

I ran across a press release from Papa John’s Pizza this morning that got me thinking about this.   Papa John’s has created a special pizza in honor of the marriage between Prince William and Kate Middleton – a portrait pizza of the royal couple to be.   “Kate’s veil is made from mushrooms and her dress from cheese,” Papa John’s spokesman explains, “while William’s morning suit consists of salami and peppers.” Delicious.

It’s a happy day at the O’Reilly household.  So many people to call!



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  1. Me says:

    Love it!

  2. I will right away seize your rss as I can’t to find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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