People were all abuzz when giant matches showed up all over L.A.

What would you think, exactly, if you walked onto the beach for a nice relaxing day in the sun and there in front of you was a big, giant box of matches? Big as in the size of a building…but flat.

Giant matchsticks have been showing up in the strangest places alright, all over L.A. The mystery, though, has now been solved! As it turns out, they were part of a marketing campaign: a major brand recognition strategy.

First, giant cigarettes were left around town with just the hashtag “#moments” on them. No brand connection or purpose was revealed, and this of course created a mystery that people were compelled to share, speculate on and pay close attention to. Finally, the box on Venice Beach appeared, donning the Tinder logo with the hashtag “#tindermoments.”

Mystery solved, sort of. People still had to jump online to find out what Tinder was exactly. As they found out, it’s a dating app that launched by targeting college students because of the inner-circle networked nature of a school campus. Tinder presents users with a series of good matches to choose from, then allows users to share photographs with each other that expire after 24 hours.

Like so many before it, Tinder promises a love connection, but it needed to find a way to stand out.

Artist Manny Castro was hired to work on the project. He is the artist who covered Los Angeles power lines with thousands of ruby slippers and painted “Tastes Like Hate” on the side of Chik-fil-A.

The giant-match-book strategy was definitely a publicity stunt – an event designed to attract people en masse so that a cause, message or product becomes seared into public consciousness.

When giant matches pop up here and there, and when a tremendous matchbook box appears on the beach, that’s news. News gets seen. News spreads quickly. Having the news report and event is the ultimate in free advertising, even though the word “publicity” is used to describe it instead.

Traditionally, a publicity stunt was something conducted in the “real” world, not online. But there’s no reason that content management can’t contain a stunt of its own now and then. Or that real-world publicity can’t be coordinated with an online campaign.

For a publicity stunt to be successful the message needs to be very clear. Giant matches might make no sense at all if they were planted by a shoe company, but a dating or hook-up site deals with…matches. Get it? The company is hoping you do, so that you’ll never forget them. Even if your long-term memory for publicity is not great, chances are fairly good that you will click on their site to at least find out who they are. I know I did!

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