How to Launch a Successful Publicity Stunt Like Placing a Mustang Atop of The Empire State Building


Did you see the Mustang on top of the Empire State Building? Just this past week Ford Mustang pulled off a very successful publicity stunt. To celebrate their 50th anniversary they introduced the new 2015 Ford Mustang on top of the Empire State Building. They strategically placed a car onto the observation deck of the landmark building just like they did 50 years ago.

Talk about a captivating new product launch! The car seemed to have appeared out of nowhere the morning of April 16th and the news was all over it. Spectators and journalists where packed onto the deck cheek to cheek like a pack of sardines to see new vehicle.

It took well around six months of planning to get the car to the top of the building. Since a crane cannot reach the heights of the 102-floor sky scrapper and since King Kong wasn’t available, the car had to be taken up in pieces. It was taken up in six pieces by elevator. As soon as the observation deck closed the night before the Mustang team worked overnight to assemble the vehicle onto the corner of the observation deck.

The Mustang sparkled atop the Empire State Building for two days commemorating the 50th anniversary of their debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

How can you plan a successful publicity stunt of your own?

Helpful Tips When You Want to Launch a Successful Publicity Stunt

Strategic Planning

Planning for a successful publicity stunt takes time. Make sure that it is well thought out. Think about the product or service you provide and what makes it most attractive. You want to target the right audience at the right time with the right promotion. If it is going to go off with a hit then the time needs to be put into it before hand. Like the Ford Mustang appearing on the top of the Empire State Building overnight, a publicity stunt may appear as it if happened instantly but in reality a lot of planning was in place behind it.

Create a Budget

A publicity stunt can be costly. If you budget yourself correctly then you can achieve it at a low-cost. However a really good stunt may require an extra investment. It’s up to you to make sure that you plan accordingly so that you can get the best return on your investment. Also, be sure to include a custom giveaway within your budget to really drive your marketing message home.

Promote the Promotion

Start promoting before the actual stunt. No need to reveal your plan, however, you can start with a few hints. Try to peak the interest of your audience so that when it does happen they can’t miss it. Be sure not to give out too many details and spoil the surprise.

Consider Your Reputation

Make ethical decisions. The purpose of a publicity stunt is to call attention to your brand. Make sure it’s positive attention. The last thing you want to do is to do something so outrageous that you end up hurting yourself instead. While planning make sure you get the right permissions and permits to perform.

Don’t go crazy or go crazy! It’s up to you how far you want to go with a successful publicity stunt. It may be as simple as dressing up in costume and standing along the highway or it can be as spectacular as placing a care atop of a skyscraper. There are so many possibilities.

What will your next stunt be? What are some of the most memorable publicity stunts that you have ever witnessed? What are your thoughts about Ford placing a Mustang on the Empire State Building?

58 thoughts on “How to Launch a Successful Publicity Stunt Like Placing a Mustang Atop of The Empire State Building

  1. I can just imagine what a buzz that mustang created, with everyone wondering how it got up there. I once organized a First Aid Jamboree for youth groups and the final day we had the different groups (scouts, air cadets, etc.) competing against each other in a casualty simulation. That drew a lot of media and was a great success PR wise. It was also fun.

  2. WOW, that is one heck of a great stunt. I’m sure they were able accomplish what they set out to do. As you outlined, doing something like this or anything like this takes serious thought, planning and prior promotion. Hats off to the group that pulled this off. It is pretty darn cool. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Marshmallow Sheep: RecipeMy Profile

  3. They certainly got the attention of the news and blog media so am guessing as far as marketing goes this was a huge success. Personally I am not sure what the relevance of a mustang on top of the building was but who cares; it did what it was supposed to do. I have to admit though it turns me off a little when stunts like this become more obnoxious that relevant.
    Tim recently posted…House Slippers and Gold MinesMy Profile

  4. I thought they had used a helicopter or something…but cutting the car into the right pieces and assembling them on top?

    Takes a lot more time and effort (and certainly a meticulous plan). I am not sure how I can use any stunts (maybe stunts on my blog).

    I have done something like that on my older blog (published a post titled ‘I am quitting blogging’ which was about blogging challenges and how I felt about blogging). I don’t think I can consider that a stunt 😀

    Anyways, thank you for sharing this, Arleen 🙂
    Jeevan Jacob John recently posted…How Do You Conclude Yours Posts?My Profile

  5. Wow Arleen,

    I think the main buzz is how the heck it got up there for sure. That’s pretty interesting how they made that happen. Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about anything of that magnitude. I think all of my planning for even my little launch won’t be anything like that but hey, it’s Ford!

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  6. What fun! It takes so much planning and really clever thinking to come up with a stunt that captures attention without catching heck. You also have to decide that the stunt or any stunt fits with your brand. Since what I’m usually marketing are health professionals or their services I get anxious at the suggestion of a stunt unless its of the most tasteful (restrained) sort, but even with that I think you can have fun. 🙂
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Warming Up The Audience Before Delivering Your MessageMy Profile

  7. There’s nothing more eye catching than a screaming yellow Mustang, except maybe one with black racing stripes 🙂 I always fall for food gimmicks. When I was in Key West years ago, it seemed like every restaurant had a grill out front to tempt customers. Product placement like that is hard to avoid.
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  8. Hi Arleen,

    Now that’s one attention grabber! The first thing I thought was Godzilla lol.

    You have given me some great ideas here. Planning a publicity “stunt” is a great way to capture attention. Then I clicked on to your “custom giveaway” page and my wheels were spinning in my head! “for everyone that opts into this you get a free____” People just love getting free tangible stuff!

    I’m doing it on my Facebook Fan Page and it’s working swell. In my offline business years ago, I gave away free pens. So many years later I received calls from people that remembered me from those pens with my information on it.

    I have to come up with a plan!

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  9. I suppose making it look as though it was magically easy (suddenly the car appeared on the roof) is part of the appeal of the stunt, although a great deal of thought, expense, and hard work goes into the implementation. Your helpful tips are appreciated. All are valuable components of a good marketing plan.
    Michele Harvey recently posted…A Coach Approach to Personal GrowthMy Profile

  10. Hi Arleen

    Wow! Sadly I could not watch the first video. It says “the video has not been made available in your country”. Never seen that before! I could watch the second one okay though and wow what a huge logistical project it was.

    Your suggested steps to do a publicity stunt are excellent. I do not think I will be pulling anything like that off though 🙂

    Thanks Arleen for sharing this example and tying it in with what we can do.

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  11. Arleen, I’m wondering what kind of publicity stunt you would try out for your business. This seems like the sort of thing big businesses do. I can’t say it captures my interest all that much (heights, fancy cars – neither are for me, even if once upon a time I did enjoy climbing 4000 foot mountains).
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  12. I was wondering how this car went up there.
    Then the video made it clear.
    I agree with your points , planning by keeping time limit and budget in view is real key for success. Different brands try different strategies and stunts to have the attention. We just see the end result forgetting about the effort put to make it a success.

    Few days back in a local mall a new biscuit was launched and the company prepared a very big pyramid by placing biscuit packs… it was really big and everyone was surprised to see that.

    Thank you for sharing and interpreting a nice story.
    andleeb recently posted…Mysterious MoguichengMy Profile

  13. Hi Arleen,

    My goodness! What a stunt! What amazes me is all that people can do just to gain publicity? I wonder how many of us would really do such things or anything else for that matter, and whether we really need it. Yes, we do create a little hype about a new product launch of a post that might generate more comments or shares, but never go overboard with it all. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. have a nice week ahead 🙂
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