How PETA Used Newsjacking to Connect its Message to A Star is Born

Oct 9, 2018

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) awarded Bradley Cooper its prestigious Compassion in Film Award. The animal rights group praised Cooper for casting his own dog Charlie in A Star is Born, his directorial debut co-starring Lady Gaga, instead of using a Hollywood animal talent agency.

If you haven’t heard of the award, there’s a good reason why – PETA just created it.

Newsjacking 101

It’s a classic example of newsjacking – one of the oldest PR tools around.

Newsjacking is inserting your brand story or perspective into breaking news or current events. PETA created a coverage-worthy award timed around the much-hyped premiere of A Star is Born. With a minimal campaign, PETA tacked its message onto the biggest pop culture news of the day and got coverage in some of the top entertainment industry publications.

Cooper’s cute dog was a hit with audiences on opening weekend, especially once fans found out it was Cooper’s own pooch. There’s even some Oscar buzz for Charlie. PETA’s newsjacking award has been included in many of those stories, too.

Plenty of other brands have used newsjacking to great effect. Oreo’s famous Super Bowl blackout tweet from 2013 is a one popular example, and PETA has inserted its message into other current events, including the Emmys.

A simple, focused campaign

PETA’s press release announcing the award offers a total of two sentences on Cooper, his dog and the movie. The rest is focused on PETA’s message criticizing “Hollywood’s notorious animal exhibitors” and their treatment of animals.

It’s a powerful and effective way to share that message. Remember, there’s no expensive nomination or selection process, no panel of distinguished judges, no extravagant awards ceremony, no exorbitant prize, no sprawling promotions. All it took was a press release and a PDF of the award.

It’s another bit of marketing savvy from an organization known for headline-grabbing stunts. In fact, we believe it is an accomplishment worthy of the highest distinction and honor bestowed within the marketing industry. That’s why we’ve made the unprecedented decision to award PETA with the first annual Braithwaite Communications Innovation in Pet-based Newsjacking Award.

Congratulations, PETA!

Long story short: Always be on the lookout for creative ways to marry your message to the news of the day.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin. Read more about newsjacking and other marketing fundamentals in our B On The Basics series.

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