Publicity stunt

Publicity stunt

A publicity stunt is an event designed to attract the public's attention to the promoters or their causes. Publicity stunts can be professionally organised or set up by amateurs.


Amateur stunts can be trivial or deathly serious. Among the trivial are students occupying a university building to highlight grievances, politicians progressively releasing leaked material to boost their profiles, software companies challenging hackers, etc. Serious publicity stunts include strikes, mass demonstrations, hijacks, kidnappings, hunger strikes, and murders.

This also makes clear that many publicity stunts try to exploit succès de scandale mechanisms for attracting attention.

Many people would maintain that attempts to raise awareness of serious causes are not "stunts". That depends on the point of view of the observer.

A distinction could be to label stunts as events specifically designed to attract publicity. Events with a particular objective that only incidentally attract publicity can be exempted from the term. For instance, if an animal rights activist were to rescue a dancing bear in India and that action became known through a report on a court case, that would not be a publicity stunt. If however, the activist arranged for the press to cover the rescue, it would be a publicity stunt.

Some record companies famously use publicity stunts to promote new material from artists on their roster. A famous example would be The Beatles 'Rooftop Gig' in Central London.

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