Free Publicity

Publicity, companies pay dearly for it and many people (such as bloggers) want it.
But how can you get free publicity?

An easy answer can be found by viewing some successes of the free publicity world. This is the stuff they do not teach in marketing classes:

Eminem -
A white rapper that spits out lyrics which offend, criticize and make fun of every imaginable race, gender, ethnicity and celebrity out there. He has effectively used “bad” publicity to propel him to one of the top selling rappers of all time. -
In the extremely lucrative online gambling business, it is important to get your name out there. GoldenPalace has taken on a completely unorthodoxed approach for their advertising.
They bought on Ebay:

  • Ad space on a woman’ cleavage. (here)
  • A 10 year old grilled cheese sandwich which has an apparent image of the Virgin Mary for $28,000 (here)
  • A “haunted walking cane” bought for $65,000
  • Bumper sticker for $10,000
  • Much more crazy stuff

Is this the most foolishly spent money ever, or the sign of a brilliant ad campaign? By buying a $28,000 grilled cheese sandwich, GoldenPalace got tons of free media attention on CNN, The Register, BBC, Fox, local stations, newspapers, magazines and now my site. Looks like their “silly purchases” bought them a lot more name recognition than a television ad or other conventional method.

Marilyn Manson -
Gained tons of free publicity from his outrageous stage antics. His name is now known all across America and all the way to the bank. People would stage protests during his concerts which would just give him free media attention.

Maddox -
The prodigal example of how controversy = free advertisement. His painfully simple website which is not even updated that often receives more traffic than McDonald’s. He recently surpassed his 100-millionth visit. His website is so popular that his Google PageRank rivals The “Mothers Against Maddox” online petition actually boosted his visits, because:

controversy = exposure

If you ask me, this guy knows what he’s doing. He now has a book coming out thanks to his mass exposure.


Controversy, scandals and rivalries get lots of attention. The effective use of these can mean tons of exposure for $0.00

These are just a few examples, fill up the comments section with other examples you may know of. I love hearing of how people exploit the free publicity machine.

Noah Kagan brought to my attention this blurb. In the comments they call me a “Bernie-Ebbers-in-training”….but they are just bringing more and more attention to my site. As a media-whore entrepreneur friend of mine once told me, “Let them say what they want, just make sure they spell your name right.”

Blog posted on: April 19, 2005

8 comments on “Free Publicity

  1. Dan Hulton

    While true, I cannot condone your dissemination of this information. All you’re doing is encouraging others to follow suit and be as controversial as possible — without any appeal to ethics — just to get coverage. Despicable!

    Especially because that means it’s harder for *me* to do it!

  2. ncnblog

    Nev, a couple of your last posts have been a little disconcerting…the party post and this one about publicity. While some people may be comfortable being known for just any old reason, be it good or bad, I myself would much rather be poorer, know fewer people, and have less power, if it meant that I had a good name, good relationships, and a clear conscience. You are still a young man, and I can see that you extremely intelligent, but you might want to re-think your position on this. I think of all those girls that you see on tv pulling up their shirts at mardi gras…that might be “cool” or whatever at 19, but what about when your 35 with kids and a family. These are questions we must all answer in this age of open information. As always, your posts make me think. ncnblog

  3. Mary

    As much as I hate it, the two aforementioned singers have become extremely famous because of the press.

    There are also “good” publicity stunts one could do to get their name out in the open.

  4. Cap

    lets see…

    a good marketing campaign done via Mini (Mini Cooper, etc., BMW’s other division).. is utilizing word of mouth publicity via the net.

    they created an interesting site about car robots, ala transformer. most net users have seen the videos or the site.

    it spread quite well on net forums, emails, etc.

    the site created a fake urban myth.. about seeing robots in the woods of UK? series of fake websites created.. ie: fake personal website:

    quite a clever one, at that.

    they even had fake novel excerpts/brochers out.. although the insertion of them in automotiv magazines are a dead give away..

    its not zero dollars, but the additional marketing gained without extra cost is definitely something to think about.

    other stunts such as 3M’s Security Glass (with money in it) at a bus station.. the picture spread quite a bit thru the net too.

    a quick search shows:

  5. jim

    Ultimately, the buyers dictate what marketing efforts will work and what won’t. Think Eminem is offensive? Don’t buy his records. Your dollar dictates what works and what is a complete waste of money.

    While I don’t have an MBA or anything, but all these represent brand marketing and exposure, getting your name out there. The downside is that your name is then associated with something negative (if you use controversy) so it’ll only work if your product or service can stand that.

    But to discount these strategies out of hand would probably be a mistake. It’s just another tool in the toolbox.

  6. Parker

    To go along with the free publicity you can’t forget my man Mark Cuban, he loves getting fined because to him its free advertising. As they say, any press is good press.

    Also, just to add on about effective ad campaigns. The mini cooper has done a great job. They make the consumer want to get involed by adding a funny spin to their campaign with the whole fake mini cooper.

  7. Neville

    Everyone is different and has different values. I am a young college student who likes to have fun….is that a RARE thing these days? I don’t think so at all. I didn’t say I would FOLLOW Eminem and Marilyn Mansons footsteps to fortune, I simply posted them as a reference.

    Cap, great comment! I LOVE the 3M security glass poster! I’ve seen the Mini Cooper ad campaign, but wasn’t as captivated as when BMW released featuring celebs, action and fast cars.

    Even though many of the ad campaigns you mentioned were not free, they DEF. got more bang for their buck.

  8. Cap

    yeah the 3M was sorta a publicity stunt.. they had a security guard there.. and they let you go at the glass with your feet and hand. so its not like u’ll find that there because there’s definitely ways to get the money out. its just they got their message out. one guy did a running jump kick against the glass.. I think he broke some bones. heh.

    the BMWfilms were definitely cool. To think, I spend time downloading it.. WAITING to watch an advertisement. heh.

    wish I can come up with ideas like that for my business. paying for advertising sucks.


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