The best PR stunts of 2021

As we come to the end of 2021 (how did that happen so quickly?), we’ve taken a look back at some of the best PR stunts of the year.  And despite lockdowns, school closures, and constant doom and gloom headlines, the UK’s PR industry came up trumps, delivering some brilliantly creative, clever and humorous activity.

Here’s a roundup of some of our favourites:

1. #FreeCuthbert (the war of the caterpillar cakes)

The Aldi PR team always deliver great campaigns, and they outdid themselves with this one. Earlier this year, M&S took legal action over Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake, saying it was too similar to its very famous celebratory cake, Colin the Caterpillar. The premium retailer wanted Aldi to remove the product from its shelves, but instead of rolling over and taking it, the Aldi PR team came up with a genius plan, and immediately took to social to launch the #FreeCuthbert campaign.

Their first tweet scorned M&S’s famous slogan and read: “This is not just any court case, this is…#FreeCuthbert”. They then followed it up with a series of hilarious tweets, including a picture of Cuthbert’s updated packaging - him behind bars.

#FreeCuthbert completely took over social media, with over 60,000 tweets using the hashtag in the days that followed, and the story was also (unsurprisingly) picked up by all the major media. And, although legal proceedings are still ongoing, Cuthbert has so far survived and is still on the shelves.

2. Tesco tells us to go to the pub #Everylittlehelps

After Covid restrictions forced pub closures for what seemed like an eternity, they were finally allowed to reopen their doors on 12th April. Tesco jumped on this momentous occasion, creating an advert that encouraged people to head back to the boozer, rather than buying drinks there. Featuring a cold pint and the words ‘Pop to your local if you can… Pubs have it tough this year…’, it was timed to perfectly capture the mood of the nation, and it generated headlines in all the major media.

3. Tropicana branches out into dental hygiene

There aren’t many things that taste worse than a mouthful of orange juice straight after brushing your teeth, and Tropicana used this popular annoyance to expand its product portfolio with the launch of a limited-edition toothpaste.

The new toothpaste used a different formula to normal toothpastes, which promised not to ruin your morning OJ.

Samples were sent to high-profile influencers to try (resulting in lots of great social mentions), and members of the public hoping to bag a tube, which wasn’t available in shops, had to comment on the brand’s Instagram post to be in with a chance.

Morning orange juice lovers everywhere rejoiced, and as well as generating some serious exposure on social, the clever stunt also netted the brand headlines galore.

4. Specsavers ‘It’s Coming Home’

Specsavers cleverly piggybacked on England’s success in the Euros by creating a clever billboard ad that spelt out ‘It’s coming home’ in the style of an optician’s eyechart.

A brilliant idea that affiliated the brand with a tournament we were all hugely invested in and captured the nation’s triumphant mood (until we lost the final).

5. Waitrose & Partners ban plastic on kids’ magazines

The front covers of kids’ magazines are always full of ‘free’ plastic toys, designed to create ultimate pester power. Earlier this year, Waitrose decided to take a stand on this completely unsustainable plastic tat, and stopped selling magazines with plastic toys attached, unless they were deemed reusable or educational.

It’s a move that fits with the brand’s mission to reduce plastic usage, one we hope more retailers follow, and will hopefully encourage parents (and kids) to ditch pointless plastic freebies for good.  Plus, the media picked up the story, so it also generated positive, key-message rich coverage for the supermarket.

6. Heinz launches Christmas dinner in a can

It wouldn’t be a proper end-of-year roundup unless we included a Christmas stunt.

Everyone hates washing up after Christmas dinner, and this year, Heinz has come up with the ultimate solution – Christmas Dinner in a can.

The Christmas dinner – in soup format – contains turkey, pigs in blankets, potatoes, sprouts and gravy, with Yorkshire Puddings being the only key ingredient we can identify as missing.

It’s a genius idea (would have loved to have been in that brainstorm), and absolutely perfect for lazy cooks and the washing up-adverse. See you in aisle 4.


Hope you enjoyed our roundup, and here’s to more of the same in 2022. Have a good one!