The latest trend in the advertising world is prankvertising. Prankertising is the use of pranks and elaborate stunts in order to promote a brand’s product or service. You might have seen the notorious “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” in which a normal coffee shop in NYC gets transformed into a telekinetic hub of activity when a young girl suddenly unleashes her power on an unsuspecting man. Obviously, the whole thing is a set up and a promotion for the re-release of the movie “Carrie.” But the people in the coffee shop have no idea that they are watching actors and stuntmen, and their honest reactions of distress prove how “real” it looks to them.
Prankvertising can also be seen around the world with companies in Chili and Germany getting in on the action. An LG Ultra Reality TV replaces a window in a highrise in Chili, while interviews are conducted on unsuspecting people. When a meteor sudden crashes into view, applicants are convinced they are watching the end of the world, when in reality they are just watching a video. Reactions vary from amazement to full on outrage, but the prank proves just how powerful LG Ultra Reality TV’s really are.
And that is the gamble this prankvertising; is it really worth it? From a marketing standpoint there are some obvious payoffs. These prank videos are going viral like no ones business. “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” has over 47 million views on Youtube, and it has only been online for one month. “LG Ultra Reality” has over 14 million views on YouTube, and it has been online for two months.
Beyond the viral market, the benefits of prankvertising are still unknown. Does giving a consumer an adrenaline rush of fear leave a lasting imprint? Or does it drive business in the opposite direction?