It was first met with shock, and then eventually, the scepticism crept in.

After announcing earlier this month that they were ready to move away from their traditional mascot, Mortein today issued another press release stating that ‘due to an overwhelming response from Aussies to Mortein’s recent announcement… Mortein has changed its course of action and will be giving the nation the opportunity to decide whether to kill or save the much-loved icon’.

We cynics here at Marketing posited from the beginning that this could be a PR stunt to build social numbers.

A look at recent activities on Louie The Fly’s Facebook’s page shows that Louie has been incredibly active on the social platform, responding to fans’ questions and complaints, and even writing his own regular status updates. For a brand that was planning to ditch their mascot because ‘he no longer represented Mortein’s innovative and advanced range of pest control products’, it sure was devoting quite a fair amount of time and dedication into keeping Louie engaged with the consumers.

After ten days of both the general public and Louie expressing their dissatisfaction with the dismissal of Louie, Mortein has decided to take it to the public for the final decision.

Chris Tedesco, marketing director for Mortein, said, “We have been amazed by the incredible reaction to our announcement. We know that Louie has a special place in Australian’s hearts but we weren’t expecting such an outpouring, therefore we felt we needed to respond. If the public wants to continue seeing their beloved Louie on TV screens then they can vote to save him on his Facebook page.”

From Sunday onward, Mortein TVCs will be aired to encourage viewers to head onto Facebook to vote for the fate of their beloved icon.

From Facebook to a full-fledged TV campaign, one cannot help but wonder if this is all a plan to create conversation and gain PR exposure.

When approached for comment, Mortein’s PR representative explained that the brand was not conducting any interviews for the time being.

Are publicity stunts a good way to generate conversation with consumers, or will consumers soon catch on and crave authenticity? Leave us your thoughts.

Belle Kwan
BY Belle Kwan ON 23 September 2011
Assistant editor, Marketing magazine &
A marketer's dream who believes everything she sees on TV.
Advertising is not evil, it is an artform and a science.