Monday, September 23, 2013

Home Depot Proposal is Feel Good PR

Flash mob marriage all about love and not about politics

Viral videos and social media sensations have created an entirely new category of public relations. Popular examples of this include the Evan Longoria super catch that was a covert Gillette commercial and a Pepsi commercial featuring a fake test drive by racing superstar Jeff Gordon.

But nothing seems to catch the public’s consciousness and pull on the viral heartstrings more than a feel-good public marriage proposal gone right. There are entire sites dedicated to proposals gone wrong, but we’ll stay away from those.

Recently a video surfaced portraying an elaborate proposal by a man and more than twenty of his friends and family. The folks doing the proposing put on a flash mob song and dance number in the lumber aisle at Home Depot.

While the store is only briefly mentioned, it is in the video description and the branding and colors of the home improvement giant are readily visible.

Sounds like a PR win all around, right? Well, there’s a twist. Both the proposer and the intended are guys. And, while culturally we are becoming more accepting of gay marriage, there are powerful lobbies that would not find this video heartwarming. Particularly among Home Depot’s major target audience.

Torossian’s take: “Yes, the store took a risk in allowing the flash mob. There was no need to approve the event, and they could have bowed out for a number of reasons. But they chose to go for the positive PR rather than the kowtowing to the potential risk involved.”

Torossian said this was a calculated risk the managers of the store definitely took into consideration. Did we mention the store in question was located in Salt Lake City, Utah? Yep, risk.

Whether they decided all publicity is good publicity or those particular managers are just suckers for a love story, they made the choice to allow the event to take place.

This was, in no way, an endorsement of any political position. Instead it was a thumbs up to happiness. The people in the video are certainly happy, and it’s incredibly tough not to respect both their effort and their emotion.

So far, it seems, the risk was worthwhile. The video has definitely gone viral – more than a million views in fewer than three days – and the reaction to the video has been, to date, extremely positive. No protests, boycotts, or other angry responses by the expected characters.

This episode proves that, sometimes, a calculated risk with a positive message can turn into a huge positive from a public relations standpoint.

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