Best PR Stunts, Fails and Learnings of 2023 – Part Two

Before 2023 is too far in our rear view, the staff at Landis shares their favorite PR stunts of the year…here’s Part Two:

Photos courtesy of Pixabay

Twitter as X

By Polly Winograd Ikonen

I wouldn’t actually call this my favorite PR moment of 2023, but it certainly ranks #1 in the “self-inflicted PR wound” category: The renaming of Twitter as X. It brings to mind the Jewish Passover song Dayenu (“It would have been enough”) that is traditionally sung in gratitude for all the miracles that emancipated the Israelites from slavery under the Pharoahs.  In the case of X, it’s the reverse question we can ask: Was it not enough that Elon Musk threatened to take over, then suethen finally buy the unrivaled global social platform Twitter, dragging its value through the mud so he vastly overpaid? Dayenu. Was it not enough that he quickly laid off most of the staff who actually made the platform operate – including all the communications staff (natch)? Dayenu. Was it not enough that he alienated Twitter’s most committed and notable users, as well as advertisers, with nonsensical feesrules and misleading descriptorsDayenu. But it was not enough for Musk. Apparently, he also had to dispose of the platform’s most valued, and valuable asset, its brand name.  Recognized in every corner of the globe, Twitter had become its own noun, verb and adjective, its blue bird logo immediately recognizable with no words at all. (It’s worth noting that Coke is not a verb nor an adjective, just a noun.) Corporations have paid untold millions to branding and marketing gurus to achieve a fraction of this success.  But Musk felt compelled to abandon it all in an attempt to help us all forget the damage he’d wrought and imagine the platform anew. Instead, he appears to have left everyone remaining on the platform feeling uncertain, unenthusiastic and skeptical – and the millions of us who gave it up feeling, well, emancipated.  Oy vey.

Heidi Klum partners with Cirque du Soleil for her 2023 Halloween


By Andie Davis

Heidi Klum is the “Queen of Halloween,” and it’s become a guessing game each year as to what she’ll think up next. This year, she partnered with Cirque du Soleil to create a much-anticipated costume that would not only “wow” visually but performance-wise as well. Her peacock outfit, involving 10 acrobats, 29 costume makers and 2,000 hours of work, did not disappoint. Top tier outlets, such as New York Times, Allure, Entertainment Tonight, Vogue and more, covered this fantastic display of artistry, bringing both parties some well-deserved applause for the ornate costume. Not to mention, it blew up on social media with the hashtag #HeidiHalloween2023!

Rihanna’s Sneaky Super Bowl Product Placement

By Brianne Murphy Miller

Rihanna provided the halftime entertainment for Super Bowl LVII. In between revealing her pregnancy and singing a few of her big hits, she paused to touch up her make-up on camera in front of an estimated audience of 121 million. That make-up was from her own line of cosmetics, Fenty Beauty. You can’t buy that kind of product placement, folks…


By Liza Batallones

What started as a viral trend turned into a public relations win for two vastly different movies. “Barbenheimer” began on social media when fans discovered that Christopher Nolan’s deeply somber “Oppenheimer” was opening on the same day as Greta Gerwig’s fantastically fun (and fabulously pink) “Barbie: The Movie”. The unlikely interdependence of these films, coined as the “Barbenheimer” trend, marked the first time where both movies not only performed exceptionally well but also boosted each other’s success. The term “Barbenheimer” was all over social media and catapulted both films to top spots on opening week.