Publicity stunts are often thought of as modern inventions where crafty PR people figure out ways to get the news media to cover an event and put the coverage front and center on page one. This however is not the case.
Over 170 years ago, French author Honore de Balzac had what he thought was a brilliant idea how to generate interest for his latest play, Les Ressources de Quinola (The Resources of Quinola ). Hoping to generate buzz for his work, Balzac started the rumor around Paris that tickets for opening night were almost all sold out. His hope was to coax people to buy tickets and drive demand from this rumor. Les Ressources de Quinola opens on March 19, 1842 to a totally empty theater. His idea backfired and fans of Balzac’s work all stayed home thanks to this failed publicity stunt.
If you wonder if Balzac’s play was good or not, you can download a free e-book version of The Resources of Quinola and judge his work for yourself: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7417