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“Evil baby” prankvertising goes viral January 26, 2014

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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Prankvertising is a new trend in the ad world, often scaring the bejesus out of unknowing citizens going about their days all for the sake of entertainment. The latest viral example of the genre is a promotion for horror film Devil’s Due featuring a remote controlled baby carriage holding an ugly devil baby. The prank had the carriage sitting in public, baiting people passing by to take a peek just as a baby popped up with a frightful scream. For those unwilling to peek, the baby would pop up, projectile vomit, and get closer as the carriage was moved from a distance.

Sounds funny, eh? Not to everyone. Some critics fear that the high profile stunts are raising the stakes on what kind of prank will get passed around online. In the meantime, unwilling participants are dragged into some of the scariest moments of their lives. As David Gianatasio of Ad Week ripped, “Using nonprofessionals involves real risk, because reactions can, of course, be unpredictable. What if someone draws a weapon and charges into an elevator? What if someone suffers a heart attack?”

For more on this story, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is advertising clutter? How is prankvertising a response to that problem for the ad world?

2.  How do prankvertising ads exhibit the characteristics of viral videos?

3.  What is the risk of prankvertising? What, for example, could have gone wrong in the “evil baby” prank above?


As simple as a prank: New viral ads rely on trickery November 29, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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There’s a new trend in viral advertising. Many are calling it “prankvertising.” The concept is simple: plan an elaborate prank, perform it in a public place, and record the response. Then, watch as views of the video online pile up.

There are plenty of hilarious examples of prankvertising online. A promotion for the remake of horror film Carrie was promoted in a video called “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise.” The ad featured an actress freaking out in a coffee shop – a real one call ‘sNice in Manhattan – and lifting a barista into the air with her special powers. As everyone watches in a stunned fashion, the woman moves tables, books, and even the pictures on the walls. It now has well over 45 million hits on YouTube alone.  Another film, The Last Exorcism Part II was similarly marketed with a ghoulish figure in a mirror scaring patrons at a beauty salon. The film Dead Man Down was also advertised by pranking people into believing that they discovered a murder victim in an elevator.

For examples of prankvertising mentioned in this post, watch the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is prankvertising so successful?

2.  What are the risks of prankvertising? How could it create some backlash?

3.  Is prankvertising like that above unethical?