Initiative For Laicite Promo, Case study THE PASTAFARI'S DRIVER'S LICENSE by Super-Fi

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Industry Charities, Foundations, Volunteers
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Austria
Agency Super-Fi
Released July 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Charity and Not for Profit
Product/Service: NGO AWARENESS
Agency: SUPER-FI
Chief Executive Officer: Niko Alm (Super-Fi)
Chief Executive Officer: Jakob Purkarthofer (Purkarthofer PR)
Media placement: Blog Entry - - July 12th, 2011

Summary of the Campaign
'Laizismus-Initative' (Initiative for Laïcité) is an NGO that addresses the separation of church and state. In Austria there are still many laws in place that privilege certain religions and discriminate against others including those people who don’t believe.

'The Pastafari’s Driver’s License' was a campaign to point out the absurdity of such laws in modern democratic societies. By exploiting the opportunity of wearing religious headgear in driver’s license’s Super-Fi found a loophole to enter a subversive meme.

Niko Alm chose to wear a pasta strainer as a piece of religious headgear and was – after some struggle with the authorities – provided with his driver’s license. By leaking the story to the media this would open vast opportunities to explain the actual legal issues to the public and media.

The story was being picked up only hours after Niko Alm collected the license from the Department of Motor Vehicles and quickly spread over Austria and Germany in the first 2 days and globally in the days thereafter.

As a spokesperson for the 'Laizimus-Initiative' Niko Alm became a permanent source for information in Austrian media regarding all issues in relation with the separation of church and state.

Having achieved all goals with very little budget 'The Pastafari’s Driver’s License' is certainly a brilliant example of how PR works: Everything is centred around an idea that cleverly seeded leads to global interest. Media inquires were managed with incredibly flexibility and speed, thus never losing the momentum of the campaign.

The Situation
In Austria there are still many laws in place that privilege certain religions and discriminate against others including those who don’t believe. In a modern democratic society such laws collide with basic human rights that stipulate that no person is to be discriminated or privileged by factors such as ethnicity, sex, etc., including religious or non-religious world views. This is of course a constitutional right in Austria that is simply ignored by the laws mentioned above. The NGO 'Laizismus-Initative' addresses these flaws in the legal system. The existence of these issues is largely unknown by the public.

The Goal
Our goal was to raise awareness that democracy is incomplete without a strict separation of church and state. Our target group therefore is not only the population of Austria, but also media that we rely upon to stick with the issue after the campaign has ended.

The 'Laizismus-Initiative' already established quite a number of connections with journalists working at various TV stations, newspapers, radio, online media, blogs etc. but these needed to be extended, especially to media with broad reach.

We wanted to create a story that would really make the news.

The Strategy
Our approach didn’t require planning in the classical sense since our approach was to leak the story through the individual who carried the campaign.

Niko Alm simply published it on his blog. One phone call with the Austrian Press Agency then was sufficient to get the word out. Once that happened the story was simply everywhere. The fact it went global on a large scale accelerated the pick-up rate with Austria media as well.

The implementation went exactly as planned but a lot faster. The story how Niko Alm got his new driver’s license was first published on his blog. We assumed that it would take a couple of days and a few phone calls for it to be picked up by Austrian media. Instead the Austria Press Agency did the seeding for us.
We held a press conference the next day to explain the campaign and its serious background. All media requests were handled through the 2 agencies.

As Niko Alm does not only represent the actual client (Initiative for Laïcité) in this campaign but also himself as a person, we had set up a Facebook fanpage ( that quickly attracted 3,000 fans including many international journalists who approached him directly.
The main part of the campaign lasted a week. It took a month to serve all press requests.

Documented Results
The campaign yielded 5 TV-interviews in Austria and Germany (ORF, ATV, Servus TV, ZDF, ARD) and more editorial pieces, 16 radio interviews with Austrian and German stations, but also BBC, NPR and more. We had articles in all Austrian newspapers (very often more than one) and many international papers like Spiegel, Süddeutsche, Metro, The Sun etc.
But most of the coverage was online. The article on was shared (not just viewed) more than 170,000 times alone. Other media include Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Rolling Stone,, TIME and hundreds more.

Plus: Countless shares in social media. Somebody unknown posted the Pastafarian Headgear Day International; more than 2,000 people attended posting pictures of themselves wearing pasta strainers.
The ultimate goal of the campaign to put the separation of church and state on the public agenda was achieved. Niko Alm and the Initiative for Laïcité now play an active role in public discourse.