Don’t Get Prankvertised!

Recently, companies have been scaring the bejesus out of random people walking down the street. These people weren’t being attacked (although some might argue otherwise), they simply fell victim to a prank. But these aren’t your normal, everyday pranks. They are pranks that are caught on video in the hopes of creating a viral video that will advertise a brand. It’s being called prankvertising, and it seems to be gaining speed.


The purpose of prankvertising is to break through the clutter of online media and grab the audience’s attention, and it seems to be working. These prankvertising videos are going viral almost immediately, getting millions of views every day. News outlets are also picking up the viral sensations and are featuring them in online, print, and TV stories, giving the brand free media coverage. But there can be some risk to this kind of advertising.


If the videos are truly using random people on the street and not actors, there is a high level of risk involved. Their reactions will be unpredictable, which on the one hand can create a great video but on the other can be dangerous. They could easily think the prank is real and hurt someone by reacting violently. Or they could sue the company for emotional distress. Some marketing professionals are saying this type of advertising just isn’t worth it because you don’t want your brand associated with some outrageous level of mayhem and tragedy.


What do you think? Are these prankvertisements worth it or are companies going too far to get exposure?


Haven’t seen a prankvertisement? Here’s a recent one to advertise the movie “Devil’s Due.”


6 thoughts on “Don’t Get Prankvertised!

  1. That is totally out of control. If I had been subjected to that prank I would probably wind up having nightmares or had a heart attack on the spot.

  2. I recently started watching pranvertising videos and have found them to be a bit annoying unless they state beforehand what the product being advertised is. I also completely agree that the risk just isn’t worth the footage. None of the prankvertisements I have seen have made me want to purchase a product and marketers just need to stop making them. Watch this one by LG and see the reaction on of the individuals gives.

  3. I think they’re interesting but how are the brands tying the prank back into their product? So the baby scares the bejesus out of the person and the person runs away…. where in that interaction does the person realize it was an ad for the movie?? Surely there had to be someone or something nearby to tell the people what it was for, in which case, did the makers of the video (presumably the advertiser) just not think that was important to show? If it’s advertising for a product, I feel like that’s the MOST IMPORTANT part to show.

  4. Or – sorry, I’m still overthinking this – maybe the whole point is NOT to show what the brand or product was and they’re relying on the viral aspect of the videos and the media attention to spread the word about what it’s actually about? So they don’t really care if the individual scared people realize what it was for, they only care that the media will spread what it’s actually about.

    • Right, I think at the time of the prank they are just trying to get entertaining reactions on film. They want to get the best reactions they can in order to make a video that will go viral, which will be what promotes their brand, movie, etc.

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