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World beating but utterly pointless

World beating but utterly pointless

The trend for companies to set increasingly bizarre world records in a blatant attempt to grab headlines is starting to wear a little thin, says Sam Potter.

June 9, 2010 1:53 by

In Dubai, they love a superlative. Biggest, best, tallest, most expensive. In fact, nowadays they don’t tend to build anything unless it has a decent superlative attached. It gets a project immediate notoriety and cache, and normally results in some good press coverage – us journalists love something that gives us an easy “in.”

Dubai boasts the world’s tallest building, for instance, as well as the world’s tallest hotel. And this week saw the opening of ADNEC’s Capital Gate building in Abu Dhabi, which is officially the “world’s furthest leaning man made tower,” apparently. Although my personal favorite remains the Dragon Mart at International City in Dubai. When it opened it was billed as “the world’s largest dragon-shaped structure.”

But the strategy of harnessing biggest and best is not limited building projects, boats and other such creations. No, lately it seems that any old company can find their way into the press with some world beating stunt or other.

A baker will create the biggest loaf of bread, a restaurant chain will create the biggest pizza, and so on. Why? Well, it’s fun for the employees and customers, perhaps, but more importantly it garners press coverage into the bargain. A winner all round – you can see why companies do it.

My problem with it is, these records are becoming increasingly bizarre. Witness Burn energy drink from Coca-Cola Company. Burn grabbed the UAE’s 69th world record in March when it recorded the “highest number of cans crushed in three minutes by a vehicle.” It’s OK, take a moment to calm down – I know, it was the record we were all waiting for.

The ridiculously specific record was not helped by the fact that the press release advertising the event announced that the record was for “the highest number of Burn energy drink cans crushed during a monster truck show in Dubai, UAE.” I’m guessing there aren’t many competitors for that one.

There are plenty more examples, and it turns out it’s not a new phenomenon. A couple of years ago, once again in Dubai (where else) Marco Polo Hotels unveiled the world’s largest chop sticks. A pointless exercise surely with no point other than PR.

How far will this trend go? Will we see the gold and diamond park in Dubai create the world’s most expensive shoelace? Will Carrefour create the world’s fastest shopping cart? Will KPMG assemble the world’s largest gathering of financial experts in a bouncy castle? Surely the media won’t keep giving coverage to these increasingly preposterous PR ploys?

Saying that, I just realized that’s exactly what I’ve just done. This needs to stop. Public relations professionals have got to do more than come up with wacky world records if they really want to serve their clients.

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  1. Andrew on June 13, 2010 9:24 pm

    Here’s a revolutionary thought, world’s “best”? For anything really.

    Too subjective and impossible to measure, so it’ll never happen.

  2. colin on June 14, 2010 8:25 am

    What about the other per capita world records that the UAE has managed to chalk up – Childhood Asthma, Obesity, Waste Generation, Road Traffic Accidents, Air Pollution, Carbon Emissions, Water Consumption……

  3. Miss Anne Thropic on June 14, 2010 11:08 am

    How about the world’s biggest black foot set up as a monument in Dubai as a testament to the world’s biggest carbon footprint? Naturally this foot would be in a non-biodegradable plastic and it would be lit up all night every night. Superb!


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