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Brands tricks are our treats

Brands tricks are our treats

Becky Sarniak

Oct 31, 2013

Warning: Proceed with caution. Your work may suffer due to the distraction.

In the spirit of Halloween, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite viral ad videos that put to good use prank marketing trends or “prankertising” as it’s also known to be called. These types of videos are used to advertise products, but in a way that “tricks” actual, unsuspecting consumers into believing that what is happening to them is reality. Major brands have started to use this approach as they realize how powerful this medium is at generating word of mouth buzz that is apt to be spread virally through You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This fusion of real-world experience and multimedia elements has led to some surreal executions.

Brands such as Pepsi, LG Corp and the TNT television network have all employed this tactic in their marketing strategy. LG TV ‘s men’s bathroom prank placed tv’s above urinals to distract men from peeing…

The prank for the movie Carrie set up an entire coffee shop of people who were witness to a telekinetic powered girl gone crazy…

TNT created the “Push to Add Drama” where passersby’s could press a big red button which would cause immediate chaos to break out…

These stunts involve average people who often have no idea, at the outset, that they’re taking part in the making of a commercial or a video designed to go viral. Such efforts blur the lines between fantasy and reality in ways that can be invasive, sadistic and potentially risky. No recent stunt goes further than the Airport Ambush  in Germany. The prank was designed to tout Stress Protect, a deodorant from Beiersdorf’s Nivea brand.

What I think these prankster videos do well is capture the essence of the products they are promoting by captivating the audience in a real-life experience. And if you weren’t there to participate, it sure is just as fun to watch. However, there is clearly the potential for brands to overstep their boundaries in these pranks. The question for brands is, is the potential liability too great, or is the risk worth it?

Here are a few more for fun:

The LG TV job interview ad

Photoshop bus stop

Uncle Drew (Pepsi)

Becky Sarniak

Becky Sarniak

Research Manager

What I love about research is learning about people and what they think. Discovering the reasoning behind behavior and what motivates people to move from a plan of action to action itself.

iModerate allowed us to not only connect with this hard-to-reach audience but to get a deeper understanding of their feelings on the subject of public service. iModerate promised at the outset to expand and clarify the quantitative findings in a way traditional online survey research has previously been unable to, and they delivered on this claim. As a result, we were able to expose the emotions shaping the perceptions of the class of 9/11.

Marc Porter Magee, Partnership for Public Service