Will pseudo-nudity sell the Peugeot 308 CC?

The new Peugeot 308 CC has already been unveiled to the media with first drive reviews appearing in February from the European launch and more recently, road test reviews resulting from a UK test drive event.

imageOne of the car’s key features is a “airwave heating system“, which blows hot air at the back of your neck.  It is this simple fact that has inspired a rather odd stunt in London today presumably intended to generate some online and offline buzz for the new cabriolet.

This morning 308 “nude” people (well actually wearing rather wrinkly, over-pale body suits) are wandering around London with blue neckscarfs – apparently all will be revealed at 3:08pm.  A website has been set up: http://www.nudeinascarf.com/,  a Twitter account: http://twitter.com/Nudeinascarf and photos are being uploaded by the minute onto Twitpic: http://twitpic.com/photos/nudeinascarf.

So far the Twitter account has gained just over 400 followers – although many appear to be very new and lacking in followers themselves.  Despite the attempt to tease a launch here, the first Twitter mention on April 19 is from Bill Hunt from Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster, which works with Peugeot and it didn’t take long to “solve” the tease – as Sandlines reports, “a simple DNS look up will reveal who is responsible” for the campaign.

What is the real value of such stunts?  Some Twitter followers have thought the initiative was related to Earth Day and others are cynical about it being having a commercial objective.  One has to wonder also about the point of a tease with a delayed reveal when most of those seeing the “naked people” this morning will not be bothered to find out more.  Maybe the PR campaign will involve the reveal in the London free papers this evening – although that seems a rather circular approach to possibly inform people.

It also seems odd to me that despite the fact that a Twitter search for nudeinascarf identified the “secret” hours ago, many people (presumably real ones) are still asking what the campaign is about.  Why bother to ask via Twitter when the answer is already there?  I find this “transmit” feature of Twitterers really annoying – if you care, why not bother to do a quick search rather than just expecting someone to tell you.

I imagine that this stunt will have had a substantial budget and been funded by marketing rather than the in-house PR team.   But given how stylish the new model is – and I understand it will be supported by zero per cent finance – why go to all the trouble to be vague with a stunt, when the car could speak for itself.

I think stunts can be great and genuinely intrigue and engage, but frankly I’ve never seen the point in being obtuse when clarity is a much better way of communicating.

Wouldn’t 308 Peugeot 308 CCs parked or driving around London create more appeal for the car than a load of over-excited not really nude people Twittering away?

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

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