Few political figures in history have remained so prominent in our culture as Guy Fawkes does to this day. 415 years on from the failed attack on the Houses of Parliament and the 5th November is still a well-loved past time for families across the UK.
Not only do we celebrate foiling one of the biggest plans to assassinate King James I, but every year without fail, we still commemorate it in the same way they did back in 1606, via a fireworks display.
It is interesting to see how the media have been successful in creating a positive act from a negative situation and are still doing so to this day. A good example is the York Tourist Board who ran a campaign in 2005 to clean up Fawkes reputation.
Guy Fawkes was just one of thirteen conspirators behind the so called ‘Gunpowder Plot’ and was in fact just a small cog in a master plan. An ex solider, born in York, Fawkes is seen in modern day in a far more favourable light. Although we still burn a figurine of straw fashioned into the shape of a man each November in his honour.
Although not entirely successful, the PR campaign by the York Tourist Board did assist in bringing larger issues to the forefront of the local community and draw people to visit the Northern hotspot.
Merely a year later the film V for Vendetta was released. The main character is a revolutionary who attempts to change public opinion while dressed as Guy Fawkes. Skip forward 14 years and now we see protestors sporting Guy Fawkes masks in homage to a man willing to use any means necessary to disrupt an oppressive regime, via the decentralized international hacktivist group, Anonymous.
Guy Fawkes was the only man to enter parliament with honest intentionshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes
Our previous blog post marking Halloween demonstrated how perceptions can be managed and changed with the use of some clever marketing and PR. Parliament’s 17th century media machine was certainly well averse to tackling negativity. In an ironic twist King James I opted for a fireworks display to celebrate the failed attempt on his life. From 1606 onwards, 5th November has been a gentle reminder to think twice before you attempt to overturn the government.
What can we learn from such a masterful piece of marketing? Can we transfer any of this to our own PR stunts? Here is what we have concluded:
Everyone loves a villain
Good versus evil has dominated our fairy tales and action movies since the beginning of time, literally in fact, with the Bible bucking the trend. Stories of good versus bad always win hearts and minds.
Give people a reason to celebrate
It is cold and miserable outside and with no public holidays until Christmas we need to give the good people of the UK something to live for. An event, occasion or a themed day always work well.
Include a cool mask, an annoying jingle or some fireworks!
If you want to make a PR stunt, then you need to be unique. Think outside the box, luckily something our PR team do well at WSA. Make the occasion memorable with an action like fireworks, or produce a repeatable jingle that parents worldwide would not thank you for, failing that look for a mascot, logo or emblem that people will adore. Did I mention we do brand identity work?
Check back soon for the second part of this blog; How to set your social media alight!