Student/PR

Creative campaigns #4 – the ‘Fiji water’ photobomb

Product placement is one thing, but have you ever heard of person placement?

Well, if you haven’t you’re about to. Because the Golden Globes saw a perfect exemplar of it just a few nights ago with their Fiji brand representative; who just-so-happened to be in the right place at the right time… Over and over (and over) again.

Kelleth Cuthbert aka the 2019 Golden Globe Awards’ ‘Fiji water girl’ told People magazine that she really is “just a girl who wants to help the world stay hydrated one photobomb at a time.”

Becoming something of an icon to many, she’s been applauded for stealing the show at the renowned awards show on Sunday evening. As she stood behind multiple stars and people of note on the red carpet with her tray of Fiji Water, the Golden Globe model became the talk of the night.

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Kelleth, who actually usually works as a fashion model and commercial actress, also mentioned to People magazine that she wasn’t intentionally trying to steal the spotlight — but rather her modelling instincts took over.

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Not saying I’m jealous of her, but I am…

The PR behind the photobombs

Working in PR however, I’m often a sceptic and I do have to question whether accident was really the case here.

Flawless brand advertising (following an apparent non-intentional stunt) which has picked up an abundance of press coverage as a result for the company seems a little too well executed to be an accident if you ask me. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either, rather a prolific PR effort (if it was a PR effort) by Fiji Water instead.

Knowing exactly how to execute impressive comms, Fiji Water quickly took to Twitter following the social stir that ‘water girl’ caused amid the Golden Globes celebration too.

Jumping on the humour bandwagon, they released a perfectly timed tweet that received its fair share of interactions itself.

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“We’re so glad everyone is talking about our water!” Hmmm, I BET you are…

Whether it was an intentional PR effort or simply just a model a little too instinctively drawn to the camera, you cannot deny that, as a stunt, this has worked all too well for them.

This is how you do PR.

Press coverage in every top-level publication amid countless other sites too, and a widespan conversation on social media to top it off. Some brands spend YEARS planning campaigns to receive that kind of reaction. All Fiji Water had to do to achieve such results was to place a model quite literally in the right place at the right time. (That place being the Golden Globes, because you can’t get much better than that, right?).

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Though becoming something of a social star pretty early on, as the evening continued ‘Fiji water girl’ quickly became one of the most talked about topics on social media. Including being a trending topic at one point. The model was apparently unaware of her instantaneous fame as she stood on the carpet phone-less, but I can sure guarantee her employers would’ve been rubbing their hands together at the impressive coverage and brand mentions that her publicity stunt effortlessly achieved.

Intentional or non-intentional, though?

Coincidence is so rare in public relations, and since studying and working within the industry I’m often a cynic as soon as anything is covered in the news. Had I not been better educated on the brainboxes behind the Greggs vegan sausage roll campaign, I too would have questioned Piers Morgan’s timely criticisms (there are tonnes of speculation that Morgan and Greggs have the same PR agency and his inane obsession with the new product is actually nothing more than a comms tactic, but that’s #fakenews).

However, in the same breath, it’s hard to believe something seemingly so innocent would actually be deliberate. And if it was, it’s a bloody good effort and my hat, therefore, is off to whoever thought of it. Perfect brand placement with enough humour to create a social stir both on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but also in the news too. Amazing.

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Adding to my suspicions, this photo is just a little TOO well timed to me

I’m on the fence here, and I need you to help me out. Do you think this was the intentional works of Fiji? Did they know EXACTLY what they were doing and was the colloquially known ‘Fiji water girl’ placed where she was in a conscious and unapologetic brand promotion effort? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or send me a tweet.

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Now, THIS one certainly is intentional…

Or, have the company struck a gold mine with this one and was her fortuitous appearances behind a number of well-known celebs simply that… An accident?

One way or another, it’s resulted in a prolific PR campaign for them nevertheless and has duly earned its place in amongst my creative campaigns of the year.

According to the Business Insider, brand placement at high profile events such as the Golden Globes is actually a decades-old marketing strategy by the company. Keen to promote their products to celebrities and keen press alike. Whether the model was purposely told to wade into shots, however, is a matter left to the unknown. Because sponsoring an event to advertise your product is one thing, but jumping in red carpet photos at any given opportunity is an entirely different ballpark altogether. (And one that I’m sure every company wish they were in right now).

“For more than a decade, Fiji Water has proudly maintained a presence at high-profile events, including major award shows, international film festivals and movie premieres,” Fiji said in a statement.

“As the official water sponsor of the Golden Globes, Fiji Water, along with its Fiji Brand Ambassadors, hydrated guests on the red carpet and during the star-studded show,” the statement continued. “Fiji Water will continue to hydrate more of Hollywood this coming awards season.”

Given the popularity of Cuthbert recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heightened demand to see more brand ambassadors in the eye-line of future press shots now as well. Evergreen publicity is a figurative diamond in the saturated practice of public relations, and Fiji certainly has one within this campaign. (Premeditated or not).

Let me know your thoughts in the comment below.

P.s. – Thank You!

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I’m not quite done yet either. I just wanted to say a big, no a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who voted for me in the UK Blog awards for best PR, Marketing & Communication blog. I’m really super pleased to say I am now an official finalist. If it wasn’t for the people who read my blog and support me every day, I almost certainly wouldn’t bother. So for that, endless gratitude is in order. Thank you.

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PR and lifestyle blogger jessica pardoe

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