Call it branded video's mischievous cousin (don't miss our Top 10 Branded Videos, too). Stuntvertising. Hell, call it whatever you like—just as long as the camera is rolling as you punk one of your customers so other people can laugh at them.
Best known as "prankvertising," this technique combines physical-world antics and digital-age magic to astonish those who see it live, and delight the many (many) more who will view videos of the shenanigans online.
Despite the high risk and low advisability, prankertising has been all the rage the last few years, and this last year was no exception.
While none of this year's efforts topped the "Carrie" remake-inspired telekinetic coffee house rampage Sony pulled off in one of last year's GEN WOW AWARD winners (Check out my iMedia piece "3 Secrets to Powerhouse 'Prankvertising'"from last January), pranks were plentiful in 2014.
Here are 10 of our favorites. Enjoy—and let us know what pranks made your list this year.
This promo from last January, for the film 'The Devil's Due," which looked to be a modern take on "Rosemary's Baby" delivers. In fact, it follows all of my three tenants for powerhouse prankvertising. Hell ... er, we mean WELL played, Damien, well played. Bottom line: It would have scared the crud out of me. How about you?
Pepsi pilfers a page from LG and takes it to the MAX with this fun bus shelter prank in London. Meant to give commuters an unbelievable moment, the bus shelter is also a kind of prankvertisement in that it's meant to shock and surprise while it simultaneously delights. We do wonder about the specific demographics for this initiative - we'd have to see central London bus ridership statistics - but on its face, this looks to be a fun way to build some serious buzz.
This little prank may be the one blemish associated with Dove's decade long "Campaign for Real Beauty." Longtime readers know I'm a big fan of the decade-long campaign, having written extensively about the program's efforts to boost women's self-esteem and perceptions of beauty in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND. And I frequently cover updates to the campaign here at GEN WOW – most recently with the outstanding "Beauty Sketches" effort. But while I know "Real Beauty" has always had detractors, "Patches" is the first time I've actually seen press coverage of a blowback. What's your view?
Dead man freaking: What is it with bus shelters in 2014? Here's more augmented mayhem, this time for SKY TV's "Walking Dead." The only thing that would have been better is for one of the zombies to be a real actor instead of AR, bursting around the front of the bus shelter. Hershey squirts all around.
Not to be undead, we mean undone, AMC went the "live" actor route in NYC—and scared the bejesus out of plenty of passersby. And that's saying something in this town.
HEAD & SHOULDERS: 'DREAM DATE WITH DANDRUFF'
This Head & Shoulders promotion pulls a hidden camera fast one on young men out on a first date with what can only be described as the doyenne of dandruff, judging from the flakes falling from her head. Kudos are deserved, however. From all appearances, the guys acquit themselves well.
Coca-Cola did movie lovers everywhere a favor by inserting audience members into films to squash noise. Now if only Coke could help theaters find something less grating to hear as popcorn. A nice reminder to kindly shut the hell up.
Even Ronald McDonald has decided to play some pranks, here by way of mind games on passersby who are asked to snap a photo of a couple. A poster of a Big Mac is carried past them to cause a distraction while the female half of our couple switches places with another person. Will the unsuspecting dupe even notice?
In 2014, even local car dealerships got into prankvertising. This treat of a Halloween trick comes from Muzi Ford in Boston. If the screams are any indication, these cars might be in need of an inside wash and air freshener, too.
Here's an approach to prankvertising you can bank on: TD Ameritrade pulls random acts of kindness for unsuspecting ATM customers. With apologies to AMEX—THIS is priceless.
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