Tuesday, January 05, 2010
A PR stunt that plays a beautiful game

What do you do if you're a Danish dating site, committed to causing a buzz with your rather specific joining requirements that exclude 'ugly people'?

You ban 5,000 members by accusing them of gaining weight over Christmas, that's what.

In a stunt that shuns fairness for aggressive digital PR, BeautifulPeople.com yesterday did exactly that, releasing a statement to the press that said: "Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded."

While the move has sparked outrage, it also sparked around 150 online news stories and 300 blog posts - all pointing their outrage, and people's browsers, to the site.

If you hadn't heard of them before, I'm pretty sure they popped into your consciousness at some point yesterday thanks to articles in outlets such as the BBC, The Huffington Post, CNN, The Money Times and CNET.

The stunt may be unfair. It has no doubt upset some people. But when it comes to building awareness, search ranking and traffic, it has set the bar (high or low - you choose) for online PR in 2010.