Following a publicity stunt gone wrong, an Australian PR agency was left fumbling for words after dozens of media agencies received dead fish in the mail.
Advantage SA and its co-brand, Advantage Adelaide were hoping to create some waves in their local media circles when they sent goldfish to 55 media agencies in Australia. Unfortunately for them, most of the fish were dead on arrival, and the campaign created all the wrong kind of publicity.
The tag for the campaign was, “Be the big fish in a small pond and come test the water,” and as Advantage SA chief Karen Raffen explains, the live fish were included as “part of an invitation to come to Adelaide… because SA is a small market it often gets bypassed when national brands are planning their media spend.”
As you might imagine, recipients were not overly thrilled,
Not a good look for Advantage SA, which is trying to promote South Australia as an attractive place to advertise.
We get a deluge of gifts this time of year, although not all smell quite as bad.
Advantage SA has since apologised for the debacle. The CEO was also quoted as saying, “In hindsight we would probably not do this again.” They have also promised to make donations to both the Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA.
This stunt gone wrong is only the latest in a string of PR fails that have plagued our friends from down under, let’s hope it’s the last.
Update: Advantage SA contacted us with the following comment:
STATEMENT FROM ADVANTAGE SA CEO KAREN RAFFEN
Advantage SA has played and continues to play an integral role in the positive promotion of South Australia. For over 25 years Advantage SA has worked tirelessly to ensure the advantages of living, working and doing business in this state are clearly communicated.
Advantage SA included goldfish as part of an invitation to come to Adelaide and ‘test the water’; to be the big fish in a small pond. Because SA is a small market it often gets bypassed when national brands are planning their media spend. The program aims to highlight the value of South Australia’s marketplace to interstate media buyers.
On behalf of Advantage SA, I would like to personally apologise for any offence caused by the arrival of the fish. It was certainly not our intention to either harm or cause any distress to the fish or those receiving the invitation.
All fish were healthy when they arrived at their destination. We worked closely with interstate fish suppliers in close proximity to each of the offices to which they were delivered. Each fish was carefully hand-delivered and was housed in a large, sterilised bowl with fresh water. The fish were fed before they were delivered, and each arrived with enough food to last six months.
Advantage SA is in the process of contacting all recipients to check on the fish, and to find good homes for any that are not wanted.
Advantage SA will be making a contribution to both the Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA.
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