Trending in Marketing: PrankvertisingOctober 11, 2013
Prankvertising involves using outrageous marketing stunts that include pranking unknowing people for a commercial or viral video to generate free media coverage. With brands finding it increasingly difficult to advertise effectively via traditional channels, publicity-whoring techniques such as prankvertising are gaining traction.
This week, patrons of ‘sNice, a vegetarian cafe in Manhattan’s West Village, collectively freaked out when a customer used telekinetic powers to hurl furniture and a fellow diner across the room in a fit of vegetable-based vengeance. Unsuspecting customers were taking part in an advertisement for the upcoming remake of the movie “Carrie”. It was a success – the video went viral – garnering over 14 million views since it was posted to YouTube.
Earlier this year, Thinkmodo, the ad agency behind the ‘sNice stunt, promoted the crime thriller Dead Man Down by staging a(fake) murder in an elevator and filming people’s reactions as the doors opened. Most people’s reactions were, rather depressingly, to run away, although one amazing woman went a little bonkers with a paper bag. Which, by the way, is probably not an ideal defence mechanism when it comes to violent killers. And in Chile, LG Electronics recently pranked unsuspecting job applicants by staging a fake meteor attack. Four prospective employees saw the end of civilisation flash before their eyes, all in the name of demonstrating to the general public the ultra-realistic nature of the picture and sound quality of the 84-inch Ultra HD LG TV. In terms of traumatic job interviews, this probably scores even more highly than being asked to do a dance routine for a chance of a gig at a Cardiff Currys.
While prankvertising has become something of a darling of tech and entertainment brands, more quotidian goods are also giving it a whirl. Over in Germany, for example, Nivea chose to market its line of “stress protect” deodorants by tricking airport passengers into thinking they had inadvertently become wanted terrorists. Staging supernatural meltdowns, apocalyptic meteor attacks, and vicious murders all in the name of flogging product may seem gratuitous, and marketing heart-attacktics of this variety have given rise to some controversy. While we’re all used to advertising giving us complexes about our weight or our wrinkles, or making us feel generally inadequate, scaring us half to death seems to be adding injury to insult. Whether sadism sells is yet to be seen but it seems likely that at some point soon, prankvertising will backfire. After all, Carrie eventually gets her revenge on her tormentors. It’s very possible that consumers will too.
Source: The Guardian