A Gold Medal winning performance from the Royal Mail
Date of webcast: 13 August 2012 09:16 GMT
If Royal Mail wanted to show just how effective they can be as an organisation and how technologically advance they are when they put their minds to it (and I happen to know those are two of their key messages), their performance during the Games has delivered it time and again, in my book.
For those who haven’t seen them (and what on Earth have you been reading about for the past couple of weeks, the Taekwando?), the Royal Mail has been creating a new first class stamp every time that a Brit wins Gold.
What’s more, they’ve been making them at such a rate that punters can buy and post one just 24 hours after God Save the Queen rings out …
Now I hesitated before hailing this a stunt.
I am sure that the Royal Mail might be making money on this – but I can’t believe that the Great British public are writing to each other more simply in order to use one of these stamps, thereby justifying the cost of the whole production on sales.
So in that respect – it’s a piece of activity where the value is judged by the coverage and word-of-mouth generated, rather than by the sales alone – it’s a stunt.
And it works on a series of levels.
Of course, there is the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of stamps “on demand”. The technology and the human interest involved in the project give plenty of media mileage.
The media also loves a stamp. Really loves them. And right now, they also adore British sporting success.
So the fact that there have been so many British successes, leading to so many stamps, has meant that the whole campaign has sung. On the one hand there have been plenty of opportunities to deliver coverage on a daily basis. And on the other, Royal Mail has managed to hi-jack the euphoria around each win with a bang-on, image-led, timely story.
But finally, this is a stunt in which the product itself is the star. The stamps themselves are not just a part of the story – they are the story. Too many stunts become bigger than the products or brands that they are set up to promote.
In this instance, the stamp’s the star and the PR that has put them on the Olympic publicity podium has been a gold medal performance.
James Gordon-MacIntosh is a managing partner at Hope&Glory PR and from time-to-time pens Spinning Around, a blog that he describes as “thinking out loud”.
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