How CSR is providing Guinness World Records with new brand engagement

We chat with the head of public relations for the world-records book to hear about the impact of corporate social responsibility on its brand strategy

Utter the phrase ‘world record attempt’ in anything other than a sporting contest and the immediate connection is to Guinness World Records and the eponymous book that records them.

For 63 years, Guinness World Records has been adjudicating attempts across a database of more than 53,000 achievements and extremes. It has broken records in its own right as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time, selling 141 million books annually, and has an annual television audience of 750 million. All of this has helped it achieve brand recognition of 97 per cent in the US and UK.

Not surprisingly, many other brands have begun to think about leveraging the power of the Guinness World Records brand, often in support of their corporate social responsibility activity.

According to Guinness World Records’ head of public relations for EMEA and APAC, Doug Male, his organisation has seen an increase in corporate social responsibility (CSR)-related attempts both across the world and Australia throughout 2018.

“Brands that organise their Guinness World Records attempts through an event or through an experiential element provide their audience and passers-by a truly unique experience,” Male tells CMO. “By allowing participants of the record to be part of history, brands can add credibility and prestige with the official Guinness World Records adjudicate present. This provides instant verification, so an announcement can be made on the same day.”

Male says mass participation events enable hundreds or thousands of people to be involved in something related to the brand, and at the same time create a united community all working towards the same goal, “which is particularly powerful when combined with a special cause”.

Male cites as an example the attempt organised by Irish breast cancer survivor, Deirdre Featherstone, to break the record for the largest simultaneous skinny dipping session. On a day in 2018 in Wicklow, Ireland, 2505 women attended a ‘Strip and Dip’ event to raise awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for the national children’s cancer charity Aoibheann’s Pink Tie. Male says more than €160,000 was raised by the women, who came from every county in Ireland as well as 22 other countries.

“Another great example is UCHealth and the Denver Broncos in the United States, who wanted a fun and unique activity to raise awareness for men’s health and encourage screening during the month of November,” Male says. “To capture nationwide attention, UCHealth with its partner the Denver Broncos attempted the record for the largest gathering of people wearing false moustaches.”

Taking place during a live Sunday Night Football game, the attempt involved 6471 participants and reached over 105 million impressions in media including Yahoo and Bloomberg.

Male says Guinness World Records has built a consultancy team that works with brands to develop their creative strategy and helps decide what record they should attempt, as well as organising a Guinness World Records adjudicator to judge the attempt.

“We encourage brands to consider why they are attempting a record, and if linking it to a CSR related record is the best way to amplify their message and make it a worthwhile cause,” Male says.

Critical to launching a successful attempt - or even an attempt that fails but still delivers a CSR benefit - is the need for planning, as this minimises the risk of the risk of any negative consequences as well as ensuring brand alignment.

“We work closely with the brands to ensure there is careful planning and amplification is done in the right channels to ensure the attempt and team are not misinterpreted,” Male says.

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