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L'Eau de Chris #dontbottleitup - one campaign we won't forget in a hurry

This week, a spoof story that sounded too ludicrous to be true - and it turned out that it wasn't it was in fact a carefully planned and ingeniously considered PR stunt that couldn't have been more targeted at the right people, with the right message, all perfectly executed. Jack Walton, a second year PR student at the School of Media, Birmingham City University, tells us why he won't be forgetting this campaign for a long time...

Source: The Sun

Today I want to talk about a PR campaign that has only happened this week; it was short and sweet and took place within a 24-hour period. However, the effect it had and the impact it has left is an example of a truly well planned PR campaign. The well thought out strategy came from men’s clothing brand Topman, working with Chris Hughes from this year’s series of Love Island and supported by the charity CALM, which is dedicated to preventing male suicide and mental health issues.

The story started on Monday morning (9th October) and the truth full revealed the following day; however, the plans for the campaign will undoubtedly run much longer, as will sales and fundraising. You’d think only giving the story 24 hours to happen would be too short - a more prolonged build up needed perhaps? Not in this case. 

It all started with multiple media articles saying that Chris Hughes was releasing a range of bottled water infused with his very own tears; the name of the product being 'L’eau De Chris'. When you say the name out loud it sounds very similar to the word ludicrous… more on that later!



I, along with many others, was confused when I first saw this, as a Topman customer myself. The story said that the water would be available to buy from Topman for £2. An accompanying video was released on Twitter and Instagram by Chris, showing him in underwear and posing with the water bottle, along with captions to say how happy he was to release the product and that more information would be available through Facebook Live on the Topman page at 08:15am the following morning. 

This quickly became a huge talking point on social media and many slated Chris, or poked fun at him, with the consensus being that it must be some sort of joke. 

Little did we know what was in store... 

I caught up with the press announcement on Tuesday. The live stream lasted less than 20 minutes and the audience were told that we’d find out the unique story behind L’eau De Chris. 

“The internet officially broke” was one quote by Matt Johnson, the presenter for the media event. It really sent shockwaves throughout the UK and even international media. When Chris came on the stage, it was clear this was something very different - not just the launch of a product. 

“Ludicrous that men would bottle up their feelings and it’s ludicrous that male suicide is the biggest killer in men under the age of 45.” The atmosphere changed and it was clear that the journalists in the room, just like everyone watching, hadn't seen this coming. 

See what the campaign did there? Ludicrous sounds very similar to the name given to the new product, right? From this moment, all the pieces fell into place. The simplicity of the message. The clever execution. The perfectly timed delivery. There’s something about this campaign that really makes you stop and listen.


The fact this campaign revealed the full story on World Mental Health Day was purposeful and poignant, again demonstrating how very well thought out the idea was by both Topman and the charity CALM. 

The idea for the campaign came from BMB Agency and the PR was executed by W Communications. So much activity would have gone into this in terms of planning, designing the fake bottle, filming the spoof video and for Chris himself to come forward and take the stage. To have the confidence to want to share his very personal story is beyond brave, particularly with the negative reaction and abusive messages he received just 24 hours before. 

CALM stands for the Campaign Against Living Miserably and Chris Hughes has now become an ambassador for the charity after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks in the past.

This campaign, that went from being a bit of a joke to something very serious in a short period of time, and aligned with World Mental Health Day, is a PR strategy I’ll remember for a long time. I personally can’t think of anything similar to have happened within a campaign at this level. 

It also yet again proves the power that social media influencers and reality stars can have; if we like them or not campaigns that use these types of figures usually have major success. In this instance, because of the unexpected twist. 

The bottles of water aren’t actually for sale but five real bottles were to be auctioned on the CALM website, with every £1 raised going towards funding the work the charity do. 


Good work Chris Hughes, Topman and CALM. The power of PR really can work for a variety of different brands, causes and issues - if the idea is crystal clear and distilled in the right way.


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