For our first campaign round up of 2023, we’re starting with a throwback! We’re looking back at our favourite campaigns of 2022, as well as the PR disasters of the year. From the creatively clever to those that we just know had PRs scrambling, here are the 2022 campaigns that caught our, and the UK media’s, attention for both the right and wrong reasons…

The Liz Truss Lettuce

It was a confusing and unpredictable time for UK prime ministers towards the back end of 2022, to be honest it was hard to tell who was coming and who was going by the end – but nothing was more unpredictable than Liz Truss being outshined by a 60p lettuce.

The Daily Star launched a livestream where viewers could watch an iceberg lettuce in a blonde wig to see if it could outlast Truss’ tenure as prime minister. The wilting lettuce proved to have a longer shelf-life, with Truss resigning seven days after the live stream was launched.

This was an excellent campaign from The Daily Star, making light of a stressful political period in a way that seemed so quintessentially British, and one that caught attention globally. Even Russia’s former president tweeted to say “Bye, bye @trussliz, congrats to lettuce”! The best thing about this campaign was that it caught the mood of the nation and couldn’t help but engage you – I guess you have to laugh at the situation or you may have cried…

Boris Johnson – not much more needs to be said

It wouldn’t be right to mention the funnies from the rocky road of the UK’s political landscape in 2022 without immediately coming onto the PR disasters – that is, Boris Johnson’s time in office.

His time as prime minister was plagued with controversies that will have had comms teams in a spin, but perhaps the most controversial was ‘Partygate’. While the UK was observing a period of lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, it came to light that a party had taken place in the Downing Street gardens. Enter a PR crisis.

The communications that followed were a masterclass in what NOT to do in a crisis. Instead of giving a straight answer as to whether or not he attended (which he would know), it was said that senior civil servant, Sue Gray, was investigating it. Deflection is never a good look when responding to a crisis, and it created a PR nightmare for Boris Johnson. A great example of how not to do PR.

A Rift to the Upside Down

Stranger Things was the most watched show on Netflix in 2022, and the global activations ahead of the season four launch will definitely have helped with those ratings.

In total there were 15 activations, but one of the most talked about was the rift to the Upside Down fans spotted on Bondi Beach in Australia. A 20-feet, glowing red portal appeared on the beach, complete with actors clad in forensic uniforms seemingly investigating the gateway. Other activations included rifts projected onto the Empire State Building in New York and on the Menara Kuala Lumpur tower.

The Stranger Things brand is strong, and even those who aren’t fans have some idea of what the show is about, so this type of visual campaign is the perfect way to grab attention and get people talking on social media! A great stunt that impressed the press and social media users.

The Slap at the Oscars

This is one that has us all cringing slightly. That’s right – we’re talking about the Oscars slap Will Smith hand-delivered to Chris Rock.

This definitely falls into our top PR disasters of 2022 as it was one of the rare occasions where the incident and attempted clean-up were seen in real time at the same event. If that wasn’t bad enough, Smith then attended the after-party and was seen dancing into the night.

It’s particularly hard to deal with something so highly publicised and in this case, an incident that has been captured on film – and that’s without the client whisking off to a party afterwards. All in all, a bad day at the office for Will Smith (and we presume an even worse one for his PR team!)

Tennis in the Great Barrier Reef

Last year, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans came together to launch a floating tennis court in the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

The campaign was launched at the same time as the start of the Australian Open to raise awareness of the problem of plastic in the ocean. The tennis court was made from entirely recycled plastics, bringing in Adidas’ own brand message about their new tennis apparel range, which also incorporates recycled plastic – a great way to promote new products by the brand!

This campaign brought together a few different elements – from tennis tournaments, to apparel, to the issue of pollution – but condensed the message and made it simple. A great example of a way to communicate brand messages, promote new products and tap into a topical issue – we were big fans of this one.

Center Parcs and The Queen’s funeral

The Queen’s passing in 2022 was deeply saddening, but it was also a highly historic event – one that comms teams up and down the country will have prepared for with care for years, and should definitely have been handled with sensitivity.

Unfortunately, the level of preparedness at Center Parcs came across as minimal, if at all existent. They announced that their parks would be closing for 24 hours, which meant guests would have to find somewhere else to stay for the night. This decision came as “a mark of respect and to allow as many of [our] colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment” – we wonder how they thought this would actually go down…

Following immediate backlash on social media, Center Parcs then backtracked on their decision and announced that any guests who were not departing on the day they announced closure could stay. We’re sure that there was no malice in this decision and the team thought they were doing the right thing, but this certainly became a “don’t” in the do’s and don’ts of comms during a national event – this is why acting on impulse isn’t always the right thing!

Bella Hadid and That Dress

We’ve mentioned this in a previous round up, but it absolutely had to make our list of favourite campaigns in 2022 as we just loved it. The spray-painted dress at Paris Fashion Week!

During the Coperni fashion show, Bella Hadid stepped onto the runway and a spray-on fabric was sprayed on her body, transforming into a beautiful dress. The liquid fibre was developed by Fabrican, and different fibres can be used to create a different texture of the resulting fabric.

This was so innovative and such an exciting event to witness during Paris Fashion Week, with Coperni adding their name to the list of fashion moments that will be remembered for years. The public certainly agree, as the ‘Making of a dress’ video Coperni posted to their Instagram received over 370k likes and received a swarm of press coverage.

FIFA World Cup in Qatar

Perhaps the most memorable and still discussed PR disaster of 2022 was the FIFA World Cup being held in Qatar and the various controversies that came with this. Many were shocked to see such a small nation secure the rights to host the tournament in the first place, but this was nothing compared to what was to come.

First, there was the alcohol ban; after initially claiming that alcohol would be available in World Cup stadiums, FIFA announced that no alcohol would be sold at any of the eight stadiums – just two days before the tournament began. Not ideal when the sponsor of the event was Budweiser..

This was followed by controversial press conferences about the treatment of LGBTQ+ people and migrant workers in Qatar, players being told they’d be penalised for wearing the ‘One Love’ armband, and issues with accommodation in the fan villages.

It seemed like nothing went right for FIFA and the World Cup, and this will certainly go down in their history and be remembered for all of the wrong reasons.

Balenciaga Christmas campaign

Our final disastrous PR moment of 2022 has to be the Balenciaga Christmas campaign, which immediately landed the luxury Spanish label in hot water on social media.

The gifting campaign was a photoshoot of various toddlers that showed them holding teddy bears wearing bondage gear, and a separate ad was also brought up that depicted documents about a Supreme Court case on child abuse. People quickly took to social media to express their outrage, leading to the Balenciaga creative director to post an apology on Instagram.

There are lots of obvious reasons why this campaign was a disaster for Balenciagia, and just down right wrong, but we were left wondering how such a presumably large team of people oversaw this and didn’t pull the ad before it went live in the first place – something went really wrong here!

Lewis Capaldi x ASOS

We wanted to end this round up on a high, and who better to help us with that than the hilarious Lewis Capaldi?

Towards the end of last year, Lewis Capaldi was invited to the ASOS offices in London and became their creative director for the day. He spent the day behind the scenes, sharing a video of him being led into the offices, picking outfits for models and directing them in his own fashion shoot. Using his well-documented wit, he instructed models to ‘pose like you’re on a hinge date but the girl hasn’t arrived’ and like ‘I’ve just won a prize but there’s a sadness within me’.

Lewis Capaldi has captured the nations attention for both his singing and his incredibly sharp and honest humour, so this was a great move for the fashion brand. A fun campaign that received great coverage across a lot of national titles – big win for ASOS!


At Prohibition, we work with a range of B2B and B2C brands across all sectors to create engaging social media marketing strategies that allow brands to stay up to date with the latest trends and updates. Get in contact today to find out how we could help you.

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