The Biggest PR Stunt In History

Renaming the town of Halfway, Oregon.

Cast your mind back to 1999.

The communication era took a turn onto the newly formed ‘Information Superhighway’.

(If I used this term in a business context today, I would be laughed at.)

At that point, we officially crossed over to Web 2.0 and new doors opened for businesses – and virtually anyone that used the internet.

But it was also a period of confusion and uncertainty.

This is a time when Half.com CEO Joshua Kopelman said there was “a dot-com clutter out there.”

And he was right.

Web pages were all over the place, domain names didn’t really make any sense or didn’t have any structure, and then the dot-com bubble burst

But it was also a period of confusion and uncertainty.

Web pages were all over the place, domain names didn’t really make any sense or didn’t have any structure, and then the dot-com bubble burst sending online companies crashing to oblivion.

It was at this time a small Ebay style person-to-person online marketplace called Half.com decided it was going to put its name on the map.

And it was the small town of Halfway, Oregon with a population of a little over 350 that was to be the host for this massive PR stunt.

The town accepted the offer by Half.com to rename their town for one year and receive $110,000, a host of new computers and a bundle of other financial incentives.

After this, even if you didn’t know anything about the internet, you would know who Half.com was and where the newly named town was located.

This is how Josh Kopelman, and more so the company’s Marketing Chief Mark Hughes were able to stand out of a busy and cluttered crowd.

All by combining creative marketing and innovation.

Less than a year later eBay bought the company for $350million.

A small start-up company without the finance and stability that a company like Ebay boast was able to appear in magazines, newspapers, web pages, and more importantly talked about worldwide.

All by pulling off what probably is today still the most creative PR stunt ever.

This was confirmation that the internet had evolved out of the military headquarters’ and university campuses’ it was born within, to small towns all over the US (and really throughout the world).

Just like Halfway.

5 thoughts on “The Biggest PR Stunt In History

  1. Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout
    and design. Great choice of colors!

  2. You can certainly see your skills in the way you write. Certainly liked this as I remember reading up on this PR stunt years ago. Incredible story!

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