“They’re all gonna laugh at you” – a timeless quote from the 1976 horror film, Carrie.
Who’d have thought that 37 years later, Sony Pictures would be remaking the terrifying classic and that the quote above would inadvertently be given new meaning – as part of the promotion for the film?
Not only has the studio used all the standard means of marketing for their new movie – TV and print adverts, cinema trailers and posters and live media interviews with the cast across all mediums – but they’ve also visited a New York café to give patrons a tremendous scare via prankvertising.
What is prankvertising, you ask? It’s the act of ensnaring and/or surprising unsuspecting consumers using a prank or stunt that promotes a product while providing a laugh – all at the victims’ expense.
If you’ve not seen it, check out the prankvert Sony’s used to generate loads of interest and social media engagement heading into the release of Carrie:
LG and Carlsberg have also utilised similar tricks to spread the word about their products. Have a look at their tricksy marketing:
Although it’s impossible to directly link increased sales to typically expensive prankvertising, businesses are quite happy to accept word-of-mouth and social media views as an acceptable measurement tool, especially when it’s far cheaper than paid-for adverts.
Despite being an effective way of promoting a product, there is also a question of ethics tied to prankverts. The reactions of unsuspecting victims are anything but predictable, leaving the door open for all sorts of problems including violent reactions, health issues, and the possibility of negative feelings toward brands or products for taking advantage of innocent people.
Ethical issues aside, the most recent string of prankverts by large companies have all been very successful in generating buzz and reaching millions of people via online views and other forms of unpaid media – and with these successes, it’s only a matter of time before we see even more large-scale pranks used as promotional tools.