Business Secretary Peter Mandelson found himself at the receiving end of a Starbucks cup of green custard last Friday in a move by pressure group Plane Stupid aimed at highlighting the controversial issue of a third runway at Heathrow. But what did his assailant hope to achieve?
Mandelson was arriving for a low-carbon industry summit when he met with the dose of green liquid. Plane Stupid member Leila Deen accused Mandelson of hypocrisy over the government's stance on climate change given its support the expansion of Heathrow.
If she was looking to win over Mandelson to her point of view, she certainly went the wrong way about it. Advocacy and lobbying isn't about irritating decision makers- far from it. It's about getting your message across in a professional and targeted way. Throwing custard over someone isn't going to convince them that they need to change their stance, nor encourage them to revisit an issue. Clearly Ms Deen was badly advised, or perhaps not advised at all.
On the other hand, if it was a PR stunt, then certainly it got plenty of coverage. But did it help the cause? Not really.
Other public relations moves associated with this cause, such as Greenpeace's purchase of land earmarked for the expansion which drew in the backing of actress Emma Thompson and impressionist Alastair McGowan, have been altogether more innovative in attempting to highlight this issue in a focused and engaging way.
But in the wake of Friday's stunt, the issue of ministerial security and the visual drama of Mandelson getting drenched in front of the TV cameras drew more attention than the actual purpose of highlighting the expansion issue.
Yes, the stunt may have gained plenty of column inches and airtime, but if most of that coverage had nothing to do with Plane Stupid's raison d'être, then it wasn't really of much use to their cause. Fighting for coverage is one thing, but coverage for coverage's sake is quite another.
Some might argue that the custard incident was successful, employing Oscar Wilde's view that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. But if you're being talked about for what you did rather than what you want, then perhaps the wisdom of Wilde doesn't apply.