Sunday, January 10, 2010

Attack of the Giant Snapple Popsicle!

This past week we have been talking about pseudo-events in our Public Relations class.  A pseudo-event is an event that is staged primarily so that it can be reported in the media.  Our assignment was to find a pseudo-event and write a blog about it.

Here is my finding:

This pseudo-event took place in June of 2005 at Times Square in New York City.  Snapple was coming out with a new line of frozen treats.  It wanted to promote its new product and decided to try and beat the Guinness World Record for creating the largest popsicle.  Snapple was going to unveil the popsicle in Times Square by having it elevated with a crane.  It figured that this would be a way to promote their product and get noticed in a big way.  The media would of course hear of this in advance and would want to be there for the big unveiling.  However, Snapple did not take into account some smaller details, such as the weather.  It was around 27 degrees Celcius that day in New York City.  As the crane operator began to lift the popsicle, it started to melt a lot faster than Snapple figured it would.  Strawberry-Kiwi juice began pouring into the streets, which caused the spectators to run away from the sticky mess that was starting to fill the streets.  The streets around Times Square had to be closed down and firefighters were called to hose down the mess that the melted popsicle created.

In theory, Snapple may have thought this would have been a great way to gain publicity, especially in a highly populated tourist spot.  However, June was obviously not an ideal time to have the unveiling.  Snapple did not think that the popsicle would melt as fast as it did.  But let's think this over for one moment.....large frozen popsicle + scorching heat = a big melted mess! 

Pseudo-events can be great publicity for companies or people.  However, no matter how much planning a company or person may do, there is always room for the unknown to happen.  This can be clearly seen in the Snapple popsicle fiasco.  Nevertheless, Snapple did receive publicity, just not what they were hoping for.

In the end, the popsicle was never raised high enough for it to be measured for the Guinness World Record before it melted.  However, reports state that it is the unofficial largest popsicle in the world.  At least they sort of achieved their goal.  And hopefully their new line of frozen treats sold well after that day.  Even though the giant popsicle was a disaster, no one got hurt and it's quite an interesting story.

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  1. Imagine doing that in Winnipeg, and dealing with the PR fallout following the gazillions of mosquitoes that would be attracted to the sugary goodness running down Portage & Main!

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