The Best PR Campaigns of 2019

Have you noticed any public relations campaigns that caught your attention this year? Perhaps a certain pancake house promoting their beefy lunch menu? Or Sports Illustrated showing noticeably less skin on their swimsuit cover?

The best PR campaigns not only grab your attention, but they also plant memorable nuggets of their brand into your mind, keeping them locked in the corner of your imagination. This year, some amazing campaigns were launched that will remain top-of-mind for many consumers.

Here are a few memorable campaigns from 2019 that worked to drive business and consumer relations.

International House of…. What?!

People were surprised to see a shift in the brand of their favorite breakfast spot, the International House of Pancakes — better known, of course, as IHOP. Last year, people were tasked with guessing what the “B” in the rebranded “IHOB” meant.

The idea worked — people started talking. The public took to social media to share their guesses and reactions to the change. It created a ton of buzz, leading most media outlets to cover not only the change in the name, but the public outcry as well. A few locations even had their signs changed to “IHOB” to further the campaign effort and drive the conversation forward.

IHOP later revealed that the change to “IHOB” was to promote their new burgers on their lunch menu. Although the change was only temporary and they eventually reverted to IHOP, it sparked a massive reaction and drummed up public interest.

Most recently, IHOP got the public talking again by insinuating another name change. This time, the “P” in IHOP was staying the same, and the public once again went to social media to guess what the letter stood for. Luckily, IHOP was only promoting their new pancake burgers. An odd combination, but it got the people talking.

Sports Illustrated’s most modest swimsuit

In many ways, 2019 was the year of the woman. Whether it was defending females’ rights against sexual assault or making strides in political and pop culture representation, women showed they hold more power than ever before. On top of that success came an unprecedented year for inclusion, specifically modesty. Following the trend with a monumental cover photo, Sports Illustrated proved that Muslim women have a place within the fashion industry.

SI made headlines by putting Somali American model Halima Aden on their cover — the first model to ever grace the cover wearing a burkini and hijab. The initiative sparked public support, with readers taking to social media to voice their praise.

The public support for not only Muslim women, but also modest modeling led other brands to follow SI’s footsteps and create a more inclusive environment. They pushed the boundary of beauty, making the cover one of the most defining moments of 2019.

Calling all ex-SoulCycle members!

Billionaire real estate developer and investor Stephen Ross — who has a big share in Equinox and SoulCycle — received massive backlash when he planned a fundraiser in support of President Trump. Tickets to attend this fundraiser were upwards of $100,000, causing a media frenzy and leading members of the popular fitness spots to cancel their memberships. It was clear they dissented to their dollars funneling into politics.

New York Sports Club saw this as the perfect opportunity to invite ex-Equinox and SoulCycle members to a free workout at their facilities on the weekend of the planned fundraiser. They took it a step further, too, and announced it would donate a portion of proceeds from new member sign ups to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that benefits LGBTQ+ youth.

This campaign was an effective way to attract customers who were swayed away by another company’s possible political affiliations. New York Sports Club showed that Inclusivity, especially at a fitness studio, is imperative — members go there to look and feel their best.

Public Relations campaigns can go a long way in resonating with consumers to drive ROI, these are just a few that have left a lasting impression this year.