richard branson

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Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from the social media world (or newspapers for that matter), you must know that late last week, billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson FINALLY made good on his promise to dress up as a cabin crew on AirAsia.

Yes – tight-fitting skirt, bold red lips, shaved legs and all.

The stunt raised over $300,000 for the Starlight Foundation and needless to say, immense viral and media publicity for both Air Asia and Virgin Group.

But do all publicity stunts soar to such great heights? And how far down can one crash and burn?

You’ll soon find out, for somewhere else in the world – this happened.

Serving as a cautionary tale for brands that are looking for a quick and buzz-worthy publicity stunt, Capital 8 theatre in Missouri came under fire after it hired a fake gunman for an “Iron Man 3” screening.

And it was far from well received.

The actor (dressed specifically as a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative) walked into the movie house in full tactical gear and a fake rifle, frightening moviegoers who then proceeded to call 911, recalling the shooting at a Colorado theatre during the premier of “The Dark Knight Rises”. Its manager, Bob Wilkins, even defended the company’s choice to use a SWAT-like character – infuriating moviegoers even more.

However, Capital 8 has since then apologised for the surprise, assuring that it will never happen again.

The lesson learned?

Publicity stunts can be a great way for your brand to make an impression. There’s plenty of potential in it, especially if you are going all out ala Richard Branson.

But always think things through. Consult people, get feedback and make sure the idea is foolproof – or you run the risk of it reflecting otherwise on your brand!

How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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