As the campaign was being planned, there was widespread concern over the dwindling turnout in British elections. The press blamed a number of factors, including the dumbing down of news and popular entertainment, a disenfranchised youth disconnected with politics, celebrity culture and high ratings/low content programming fuelling the demand for junk culture.
Magazines, such as FHM, were cited as part of this problem and the climate was ripe for CUNNING to create some truly explosive work by subverting the status quo.
CUNNING’s brief was to raise awareness of FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women” issue. This is an annual issue in which readers are encouraged to vote for their favourite sexiest female celebrity.
Furthermore, the activity needed to drive sales of the magazine at a quiet time of the year and develop FHM’s reputation as a sexy, cheeky, irreverent youth magazine.
At midnight, on 9th May 1999, CUNNING projected an 80-foot high image of one of FHM’s hot favourites, Gail Porter, onto the side of London’s Houses of Parliament. Projecting onto the country’s oldest voting institution neatly linked the concepts of ‘sexy women’ and voting.
The stunt immediately made news headlines in the UK and within two days was covered in every UK tabloid paper - many as a front-page leader. A day later, the stunt had attracted broadsheet coverage and within a week it became a global news story.
The FHM projection is still widely regarded as the most successful guerrilla advertising campaign ever in the UK and was voted best stunt of the 20th century by the BBC.