Ten “prank-vertisements” for your campaign stunt inspiration

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Prankvertisements were the viral trend of 2013, and for a while, it seemed like every week a new company was pranking their customers in order to sell stuff.

These were effective videos as entertainment (whether they helped sell anything is debatable) because people love the dramatic irony and surprise of a prank — the sense of entrapment, and because the audience knows something the “victim” of the prank doesn’t.

The following ten┬ávideos are some of the biggest prankvertisements from 2013, and I’m posting them because I hope they can serve as inspiration for your union campaigns. Progressive campaigns, whether unions, non-profits or political groups, are increasingly creating videos to spread their message.

The element of the unexpected, and thinking differently, helped these videos go “viral” (although viral as a goal is not necessarily a good thing) — and for a union looking to create a video that cuts through, putting on your “prank” hat may really get the creative juices flowing.

Of course, not all of the videos are particularly progressive. Hiring a dwarf to hide in a bus-shelter dressed as Chucky doesn’t rate high on political-correctness, and ultimately, all of the videos are designed to sell something. Similarly, the budgets for many of these ads may be beyond what a union has to spend.

However, these videos show that you don’t need to run ads on TV to get an audience.

Before going to the viral private-sector videos though, I thought I’d highlight one from the non-profit sector.

This one was particularly controversial, and was created by a small charity in the UK, the Pillon Trust. It got a lot of mainstream media, was debated on various campaigning e-lists that I’m on, and received over 3.6 million views on Youtube. Watch to the end.

This ad, arguably, is effective not just because of the shock value, but because of the unexpected pivot at the end. It has good production values, but would not have been expensive to film, and of course it was free to distribute. Behind the distribution of course was a PR campaign that ensured major media outlets knew of the video — which helped it to go viral.

Ten prankvertisements for your inspiration

1. Telekinetic coffee surprise

56 million views

2. Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: “Test Drive”

42 million views

3. WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-Time Giving

35 million views

4. LG Meteor Prank

16 million views

5. #PubLooShocker

11 million views

6. Elevator Murder Experiment

7 million views

7. Carlsberg Puts Friends to the Test

6.6 million views

8. All Eyes on the S4

4 million views

9. Beauty Shop Scare

3.7 million views

10. Chucky Ad Prank At the Bus Stop

2.7 million views

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