August 26, 2014 By integrate

Top Three PR Stunts of the 2014 VMAs

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“Stars — they’re just like us.” We see examples of this idea all the time in magazines and online. Britney Spears leaving the gym (my personal favorites), Taylor Swift and Lorde taking a stroll on the beach just like all best friends do and Reese Witherspoon walking her kids to school are all images I have seen recently that show the humanity of the world’s biggest celebrities.

However, while I was watching the MTV VMAs on Sunday I realized that, as PR professionals, stars (and their publicists) are never more like us than when they are attending a star-powered event with only so much attention to go around.

At Integrate, one of our key responsibilities is dreaming up innovative and out-of-the-box campaigns and ideas to help our clients share their messages with the media and their target audiences. We know our clients are rock stars but sometimes it takes a little creativity for their message to cut through the noise; that’s what we are here for. 

On the other hand, on a normal news day, any A-list celebrity could sneeze while walking down Rodeo Drive and the event would be covered in the tabloids. You can count on Buzzfeed to chronicle the event with a “22 Things We Learned About Adam Levine From His Sneeze” post.

But what happens when the most sought after celebrities all attend the same event on the same night, forcing them to compete with each other to gain the attention of the media and their shared audiences? They do what PR pros do everyday. They get creative, they think-out-of-the-box and the VMAs happen.

From the moment the first celebrity stepped onto the red carpet until Beyoncé shut the night down, the entire event was a celebration of pop culture filled with one PR stunt after another. There was a lot to choose from but here are my top three PR stunts of the 2014 MTV VMA’s:

#3 Katy Perry and Riff Raff’s tribute to Britney and Justin

This takes the number three spot because the sole purpose of this outfit was to ensure media attention and fire up the Twitterverse. Within minutes of the pair stepping on the red carpet, Twitter was flooded with comparisons to the outfits worn by the former Mouseketeers turned power-couple, Buzzfeed dedicated an entire post to the ensemble and the denim duo was included in almost every piece of post-event coverage I read. I even Googled Riff Raff and learned he is a Houston rapper! Mission accomplished.

#2 Miley’s mystery date

I held my breath when Miley’s name was called for winning Video of the Year, as, I’m sure, did everyone else who remembers her performance at the 2013 VMAs (if you need a pop culture refresher, Kaitlyn discusses the event in a past blog post).  This year, however, she stole the spotlight by showing her compassionate side. Instead of accepting the award herself, her date for the evening – a homeless man – took her place and gave a speech addressing the millions of homeless people across the country and urged celebrities to do what they could to help. In 30-seconds, Miley gave a worthy cause a platform to reach millions, softened her image after last year’s performance and was still one of the most talked about celebrities of the night. To you Miley, I tip my hat.

#1 The Carters

Yes, Beyoncé gave a 16-mintue show-stopping performance that left every celebrity in the room wondering why they even bothered to show up at all.  Halfway through her performance I was wondering if I was watching Beyoncé perform at the VMAs or if I was watching the VMAs at a Beyoncé concert. She owned the night. But it was the video footage of her husband, Jay-Z and daughter, Blue Ivy, watching mom from the audience that brought the Internet to its breaking point. In a twist of irony, the most talked about person of a night full of PR stunts was the least scripted of all. Blue Ivy captured America’s attention as she danced along to “Flawless” and waved to her fans as her famous dad carried her onstage to present Mom with MTV’s Video Vanguard Award. By the time music’s first family reunited onstage, the Internet was broken, as were the divorce rumors surrounding Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s marriage. Blue Ivy, you are my hero.