What a start to the New Year! Two weeks in and my social newsfeed is inundated with ‘Carrie’ and ‘Devil Baby’ viral video shares. With over 53 Million and 36 Million YouTube views respectively, one would think of them to be Internet sensations. If you haven’t seen it (have you been living under a rock?), see below.
Have I missed a trick? Are these videos considered cool? I don’t like gimmicky marketing stunts, let alone those that abuse public trust and prey on unsuspecting, good Samaritans!
Apparently, this type of stunt marketing has a name – prankvertising. There were just the days of Jackass and Punk’d where it was played between mates for a laugh, but now these prankvertisements are seeping into our realities evoking real shock value. Last year we saw the likes of Nivea airport prank using paranoia to promote its deodorants. We somehow have upped the ante from Carrie-style telekinetic coffee shops to fake murders; unsuspecting members of the public are increasingly being tricked for the sake of flogging product.
Com’on marketers, just because these example videos have gone viral do not automatically make them good content. Stop wasting time and money producing this shit. Addressed to marketers, don’t you see that these pranks are probing into darker territories trading on fear, death and danger that test the limits of personal privacy and social acceptability?
Though most of these stunts are professionally choreographed and in controlled environments, think about the possible risks involved. Many try at great lengths to ensure these videos feel spontaneous and unrehearsed, but one cannot predict human reactions. What if someone were to suffer a heart attack from the stunt?
The “Carrie” and “Devil Baby” stunts may not be realistic in nature and only overcoming the initial shock factor, we realise it is not real. But what happens when the industry fuels prankvertising to a point it starts to become more lifelike and real?
To indulge in prankvertising, marketers need to prepare themselves for a day when the joke will be on them.
The two videos I refer to are below. What do you think of them?