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Top 5 PR Campaigns of 2019

Michelle Garrett

May 14, 2020

As PR pros look back on 2019, there’s a lot to study—but which brands stood out with their public relations campaigns, making a big splash both on social and in traditional media?

Here we look at five of the best.

1. Miller Lite

With the launch of its “Cantroller” at the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) event in Los Angeles last June, Miller Lite scored a plethora of earned media.

The Cantroller, a 12-ounce can of beer that doubles as a working video game controller, was developed to engage the 40% of gamers who drink beer while they play. “The Cantroller is Bluetooth-enabled, contains a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for a three-hour charge, offers haptic feedback and, importantly, can be refrigerated,” says Marketing Dive.

Miller Lite furthered the reach by partnering with comedian and gamer Eric Andre to connect with his 1.7 million Instagram followers. Attendees who qualified could battle Andre to win one of the coveted Cantrollers. The event was streamed live on Miller Lite’s Twitch channel, which it had also just launched.

The brand scored a major win with this well-planned, multi-channel effort.

eng-0505-blog-pr campaign

2. Country Time Lemonade

What’s more wholesome than a neighborhood lemonade stand? So imagine being fined for operating one. Turns out, the stands are legal in just 14 states. Country Time decided to do something to help out all those budding entrepreneurs by launching Country Time Legal-Ade.

The effort helps kids stay open for business by covering the cost of a permit or a fine, up to $300. In addition, Country Time encouraged political activism, urging parents to contact their state representatives to ask that the laws be repealed. The brand offered downloadable yard signs to help further support the cause.

The creativity of this effort earned Country Time media coverage in everything from mainstream media to legal blogs.

3. Taco Bell

Taco Bell garners a top spot in this year’s list. When it rolled out its The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel & Resort in Palm Springs, California, last June, reservations sold out in less than two minutes.

Taking advantage of the experiential space, Taco Bell catered to its biggest fans when it refurbished an entire hotel to create a destination. The brand worked for two years on the project, which was also a hit on Instagram. 400 people from 21 states stayed at the hotel during the four days it was open.

“Online, the campaign generated 4.4 billion impressions and more than 5,000 articles from news outlets,” said Jennifer Arnoldt​, senior director of retail management at Taco Bell.

4. Barbie

The Barbie brand had quite a year. From the launch of its line of dolls with disabilities, to its “Totally Throwback Tour” which is traveling around the U.S. through 2022,  to its Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse, which you can actually stay in via Airbnb, the 60-year-old icon was in the news throughout 2019. There’s even a Barbie film in the works, slated to star Margot Robbie.

Again, Instagram factors heavily into Mattel’s efforts to promote Barbie, who has more than 1.5 million followers there.

pr campaigns of 2019

5. Chobani

Known for its employee-friendly policies, Chobani also does a lot for the community. This year, when the company paid more than half of the $77,000 student lunch debt at Warwick Public School in Rhode Island, it made news once again for its philanthropic efforts.

“Chobani has done extensive work beyond its corporate walls by working in areas such as LGBTQ rights, championing the causes of refugees and immigrants, doing community service near its offices and factories and giving paid parental leave to new parents. It has been recognized for four years in a row by Great Place to Work[ii].”

Reading Tip: 5 of the Most-Shared Pro-LGBTQ+ Articles of 2023 So Far

What Can PR Pros Learn From 2019’s Top Campaigns?

  • Use a multi-channel approach. Most of the year’s top efforts involved social media in addition to traditional earned media strategies.
  • Factor experiences into your PR campaigns. This is an area that’s ripe for innovation.
  • Don’t forget about the power of doing good. Charitable and community-focused initiatives played a role in some of the best campaigns this year.
  • Keep in mind that to achieve strong results, planning and time are a factor.

Also, take a moment to make sure you’re prepared to capture the ROI of your campaigns. For everything you need to know about PR and social media KPIs and reporting, read our ebook.