Advertisement has always been the vessel for the entertainment industry to get the public’s attention for the newest horror or Sci-Fi flick is through advertising. Back in the day, billboards, commercials, and magazine ads were the weapons of choice by marketers. Inevitably, as we move from analog to digital, so will the advertisement world. Viral marketing seems to be king now and where we have such a full market of videos, how does one get noticed. It’s simple really; scare the crap out of your audience until they go see your film.
What is prankvertising? Prankvertising is exactly what it sounds like, advertising through pranks. The internet is full of content of people pranking each other, so why not use that to help your movie? Studios are taking a more creative route when it comes to reaching their targeted audiences. If you want to create an awareness of your movie or television series this would be a great avenue to venture down. Whether it’s sharing the amount of drama your television network offers or scaring innocent bystanders by rigging up some sort of scare tactic in public there’s a lot of creativity and planning that goes into prankvertising.
Pranvertisement is really nothing new; it’s just been set as one advertiser so eloquently puts it. “pranks on steroids.” That was a comment from the people seeming to be at the forefront of this new marketing movement. The guys from Thinkmodo have been behind some of the best pranvertisements to date. These guys were behind such successful campaigns as the one for The Devil’s Due in New York, a headline-grabbing stunt for the film Dead Man down, and have also utilized these scare tactics for use with brands for beer and other consumer goods. With such a crowded market for advertising, the industry is desperate for new ways to gain the attention of the consumer market. But do these stunts always pay off. How do we tell if these viral videos really make a difference or if it is just something to talk about? Thomas Moradpour, VP, global marketing at Carlsberg had this to say about the matter;
“From our perspective … it will more than pay for itself in earned media and ‘share of conversation.’ That, in turn, translates into brand worth, which in turn drives sales, we won’t be able to track a direct bump—too many variables—but we’ll measure the impact on brand health and equity through our brand trackers in all of our key international markets.”
When it’s all said and done, its all about building awareness. Is Prankertisement the answer to the decline of the old marketing ways… maybe not the only answer? Prankvertisement is not something that can be utilized on any project. But with that being said, it is just not limited to horror movies. Action films, comedies, even some Disney flicks could benefit form this style. The issue here is where does it end? These pranks will need to continue to get bigger to satisfy the publics lust for stupidity. One day you could wake up to CNN talking about an Alien invasion, and then you find out it was just an ad for Independence Day sequel. Welcome to the digital age of prankvertisement.
Prankvertisement is built for the internet age. With a heavy emphasis on the viral aspect of marketing, these part prank, part advertisement campaigns have the ability to both entertain and promote. One of the best known prankvertisment campaigns is that for the 2013 film Carrie. The ad featured a woman wreaking havoc in a coffee shop with Carrie’s telekinetic powers. The video has since received 48.5 million views on YouTube. Unfortunately, the success of the video did not translate to success for the film as it only grossed $35 million domestically. The cable network TNT launched its own prankvertisements with it’s “Push to Add Drama” campaign. It featured an ambulance, a gun battle and a football team all “adding drama” to an otherwise quiet town square. The video became the second most-shared ad ever As stated earlier, advertising campaigns are about increasing brand awareness. However, it is difficult to put the success of these campaigns in numbers and ticket sales:
“Measuring a specific ROI from a high-profile stunt campaign is not a simple thing in our business,” notes Matt Gilhooley vp, interactive of CBS Films, which produced The Last Exorcism Part II. “Box office is the result of a wide variety of well-aligned tactics and circumstances, and the goal of a stunt, such as our beauty shop scare, is often to earn attention versus buying attention with an audience. When it’s successful, the attention you earn greatly exceeds the cost of buying an equal amount of exposure with that audience.”
It does not seem that prankvertisement is going anywhere; the popularity of these campaigns will only ensure that we will see pranks integrated into more aspects of entertainment advertising.