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.”