From eagerly awaiting Bart Simpson’s prank call to Moe, to watching Ashton Kutcher make a fool of a celebrity on MTVs Punk’d, pranks and hidden camera shows bring out empathy, laughs and the child in all of us.
In the past year we’ve seen the world of pranks and PR combine beautifully (also known as “prankvertising”). You only have to have a quick scroll through prexamples.com to see how brands, big and little, have found new ways to advertise to and engage with their customers.
One of the most recent PR pranks to go viral was of course the ‘Fins-bury’ Park stunt to advertise Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. A three metre motorised shark was installed into Finsbury Park Lake in summer 2014 and of course hidden cameras caught all the action. Seeing a large fin emerging from the water shocked unsuspecting locals and tourists who were enjoying boat rides on the lake. Although logic tells us a shark couldn’t possibly be in a little lake in London, that didn’t stop panic taking over!
To promote the launch of the Rice Krispie Squares ‘Malloween’ seasonal bar, Kellogg’s installed a ‘haunted’ vending machine in the Dublin Institute of Technology university campus and CHQ, a shopping centre in Dublin’s financial district. When customers went to get their Rice Krispie bars from the bottom of the machine, a ghostly hand would come out and grab them. This was all filmed with various hidden cameras, and went viral in a matter of days via Reddit and 9GAG.
One thing to be aware of in “prankvertising” is the health risks of possibly shocking someone who is elderly or has a heart condition and causing a trip to the hospital. I don’t believe there have been any cases of this so far as a result of these stunts, but you wouldn’t want a crisis comms/legal situation to come from an innocent ad campaign!
The winning “prankvertisement” for me has to be the Chucky bus stop ad shell installation in Brazil last year. The new straight-to-DVD ‘Curse of Chucky’ film was due to be released, and its advertising team got a little bit creative. While members of the public waited for their buses at the stop, a three foot tall, knife-wielding Chucky-lookalike crashed through an ad for the film on the side of the bus stop, running after any bystanders. The results included general fleeing and screaming, one person went back for their friend who had stumbled (how noble!) and one proceeded to start hitting the actor with their bag.
Far too often we see bad acting and fake emotion at the forefront of advertising campaigns. Being able to capture real and relatable human emotions reflects how a consumer can feel towards certain brands, therefore making PR stunts/adverts like these relatable to all audiences. As stated in my previous blog regarding 4D/ “Smellvertising” PR stunts, I was really excited to see how the folks in the industry would step up their game to catch consumers’ attention. I get the feeling that “prankvertising” is only the beginning of the next chapter in the world of advertising and PR stunts.
We love getting our teeth into creative campaign ideas for our clients. Take a look at our case studies page to see what we’ve worked on recently; if you’d like to know more, give us give us call.