There have been reports in the media recently that Snoop Dogg will be heading back to Australia in October this year. He will headline shows in arena-scale venues all around the country.  It’s the first time the Californian rapper has been here since 2014. It’s the name of the upcoming tour that prompted me to recall my encounter with Snoop during his last visit down under. The ‘I Wanna Thank Me’ 2022 title dropped me immediately into a chapter of memories about one of the best newsjacking public relations stunts the agency was able to deliver in one short day plus the lessons we learned along the way.

The opportunity:

Snoop is a master entrepreneur, hello Adidas, Chrysler, Mary Jane and his varied cannabis products. For the occasion that triggered my memory, Snoop-da-Vinci was the working title which was leveraged into a national pop-up publicity opportunity. The client involved was an elegant, upscale hotel and Snoop was in residence for one week during the Aussie tour. During his time in-house, in between shows, he created a tight collection of large-scale artworks – oil on canvas. He painted them and signed them Snoop-da-Vinci, leaving them in his hotel suite when he departed. They were bright, chaotic and pleasing to the eye. With the added lure of being signed by Snoop-da-Vinci, we seized the opportunity, assuming (correctly) they were a gift.

I was working on the Public Relations program for the hotel with my day-to-day communications directly into the Managing Director. At the time of the Snoop-da-Vinci opportunity, the client-agency rapport was excellent, the vibe being a potent alchemy of trust and camaraderie resulting in a stream of rewarding publicity as an outcome. Timing is key for a good newsjacking opportunity, and as soon as Snoop was in the safe hands of the airlines on his interstate flight to the next show, the MD and I were on the phone planning the stunt using the gifted artwork.  Would we do an art show? Would we give the paintings to hard-working staff members? What would we do and how much publicity could we garner?

After discussions, we arrived at the idea of an art charity auction for a worthy NFP aligned with the Corporate Social Responsibility program we had recently launched for the business. We set about finding an online sales portal, calling media for an artwork viewing at the hotel and pushing out supporting publicity content nationally. All in 24 hours.

The outcome:

Snoop was making headlines all over Australia at the time for his music and other recreational pastimes and we rode the wave. The Snoop-da-Vinci charity art sale, with ancillary mentions and photos from the client’s luxe property, appeared in local, state and national media in print and on radio and via a slew of online coverage that still comes up on a Google search today – even though this all happened in 2014. Snoop’s edgy brand and audience were aligned with the market segment for our client and we made a lot of noise while raising significant funds for charity.  However, the publicity was not without some drama, this was Snoop Dog after all, and this is where the strategy and the client relationship are vital when executing this kind of newsjacking. 

The lessons:

Firstly, we needed to undertake a robust risk/reward discussion with the client. What was the potential scope of upsides and downsides for the art auction? Who would this tactic impress or offend? Was there a liability potential?  Did this align with the annual PR strategy?  What was the appetite to showcase the idea via publicity and, conversely, fend off the gamut of critical attention that may occur?  We laid it all out and did a SWOT.  We decided to go for it.

We posted the artwork on a globally recognised seller’s portal. There were some lessons here.  Have you read the T&C for these kinds of sites? There were some compliance and authenticity details we needed to consider. Working through these road bumps we eventually arrived at the live post and generous bidder amounts ensued. After a day or so a sale transacted. 

To make this work we needed to have a solid alliance already established with a worthwhile charity. We also had to be confident that our client’s audience shared an affinity with this type of news. We pitched the online artwork auction alongside the Snoop news cycle and the media picked it up and a slew of stories appeared. We had carefully analysed the scope for risk so the client was prepared for all outcomes. The idea worked as a successful newsjacking and the publicity outcomes were deemed a winner. Big tick for the agency.

When Snoop called (his peeps eventually noticed) – err, we said sorry.  We played the forgiveness card knowing Mr da Vinci had bigger fish to fry and ultimately, we reminded his reps, the charity received a generous donation and wouldn’t Snoop be happy about that!? I don’t think they replied and hopefully they don’t read this and call me now – but if they do I’ve got some ideas for his next tour and would be delighted to discuss and leverage for our clients.

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