Today’s world has deemed them so vital, that it’s turned
them into one word. Say the word in a marketing meeting, and ears prick up, eyes
sparkle, and sometimes drool comes out of mouths.
That’s because a video ad’s pageviews instantly turn
advertising into science, which it absolutely most certainly is not. But marketing hacks love definitive
numbers, "verifiable" results, and pretty, multicolored graphs. And ad agency account
hacks love providing them with all three. It justifies both of their jobs.
Nevertheless, the best way for ad agencies to get their
clients big pageviews is to make a video ad designed to go “viral.” Not designed
to sell a product benefit, no. Just to get “eyeballs".
Enter Shockvertising, aka Prankvertising, aka Stuntvertising,
aka “experiential” marketing, aka “Jackass”vertising (my term). It’s what more
and more agencies are relying on to appease clients in lieu of creating ads that actual give people a reason to buy their fucking product.
Dove’s current branding position is “real beauty” (which isn’t real). They’ve established it
by shoving women’s insecurities in their faces, as with their much-lauded thee-minute
ad “Beauty Sketches.” Dove hired a forensics artist to draw two
sketches: what women thought they looked like, and what strangers thought they
looked like. It just won top honors at last week’s Effie (short for
“effective”) Awards. That means the ad directly led to a substantial increase
in sales, supposedly
$24 million. But that number is based solely on Dove's own research, so caveat
This non-product. no-benefit Dove campaign is posing as
empowering to women when it actually passive aggressively belittles them. And
that makes it worse than traditional “beauty” advertising.
Their latest gotcha!
ad (above) was released in April, and has racked up over 20 million
YouTube views. Unilever’s (Dove’s parent) chief marketing and communications
probably been rubbing them out as fast as he can reload as he monitors the page.
Weed’s background, fyi, is as a mechanical engineer, so he’s probably one of
those who wrongly believes advertising is a science.
time Ogilvy Brazil got psychologist Ann Kearney-Cooke from the Cincinnati
Psychotherapy Institute (which specializes in body image issues) to dupe insecure
women by prescribing them the RB-X patch, which she told them was supposed to
“enhance their image of their own beauty.” (What conscious being would
actually believe that?) The women wore it for a couple of weeks and reported
back. Apparently, most of them said they felt better about themselves.
At that point, Kearney-Cooke
revealed to the women that they had been wearing a placebo. Amazingly (and very
suspiciously), none of them were upset. One woman even cries, she’s so happy. You
can bet that some less-than-positive responses were left out of the final cut.
is what Steve Miles, global senior vice president of Dove, said about their latest prankvertising:
just want each film to work and engage women," Miles, female expert, said. "For me,
it's not just the crude numbers game per se. It's are we getting the right sort
off, they’re not films, they’re ads. And Miles? Get your presumptuous ass out
of the psychiatric field. You’re not in the business of mentally repairing
women. You’re just preying on their neuroses to sell your “beauty” products.
And who knows what psychological damage you’re causing?
don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Miles. It is only about the crude numbers.
terms of market share, the ultimate proof of whether consumers are coming with
us, on all of the brand equity measures I look at, we're on an ascending trend
with Dove in almost every region of the world,” the buzzwordy bullshitter said.
Wall’s Ice Cream: Goodbye
from last April, Wall’s (another Unilever brand) apparently paid some Plumas
County, California Sheriff's deputies to fake-pull over some drivers and,
instead or ticketing or arresting them, the cops gave them ice cream cones.
why not? Everybody adores cops nowadays. Luckily, they didn’t pull over an anti-government
militiaman with a Sig-Sauer in his crotch and a lack of medication in his
veins, or an agoraphobic with a weak heart.
to worry. This was just another bullshit controlled fake stunt with amateur
Pepsi Max “Unbelievable Bus
at a busy London bus stop in March, this digital shock ad has over six million
views (fist-bump-explosions all-around). I wonder if they blocked senior
citizens from entering the bus stop to avoid possible deaths? I can just
picture the Max marketing team meeting scenario: giddy schmucks shouting stuff
like “LOOK AT THE COMSUMERS ENGAGING
WITH OUR BRAND!” (and) “THEY’RE LAUGHING,
THEY’RE SMILING! THEY REALLY LIKE US!”
this: if surveyed, a vast majority of the people who remembered this stunt
would not remember the brand. I guarantee it.
Germany, and last year’s Hamburg Marathon. Hand sanitizer brand Antiseptica doesn’t have a big marketing
budget. So, via their German agency Grabarz & Partners, they evilly tried
to put ads on people’s hands with high-five-vertising. First off: fuck you, fucking
assholes. Secondly, how many of the imprints do you think were actually this
you provided free product for people to wash their hands? How nice of you. What
if your product sucks, and your stunt runner transferred herpes to me from some
deviant who likes to masturbate while watching road races? Why did no one,
after noticing what the asshole stunt runner did, run after him and tackle him?
is the other insidious part of prankvertising: almost all of the pranks are completely
fake, while falsely portraying themselves as spontaneous—like with this “Elevator Murder
promoting the movie Dead Man Down.
NYC ad agency Thinkmodo (tagline: “BE CREATIVE. BE ENGAGING. GO VIRAL.”) claims it used unaware strangers exhibiting real reactions. All you have to do is think of
the possible lawsuits involved to realize they are lying through their scum-sucking
above stunt was performed at the City of Milan Airport, last November, by
Publicis Italy. Like with the elevator prank, these are all actors or
tipped-off volunteers, because if they weren’t, the dupes would be freaking the
fuck out. And people freaking the fuck out at Italy’s busiest international
airport is not an option the authorities would allow. That’s also why this ambush
ad stunt by Nivea
at a German airport last year was likewise 100% fake, despite the bullshit
backup info provided by the agency.
Toys “R” Us “Busload of Kids”
there was this prank video and TV spot from last holiday season. Toys “R” Us
put a bunch of kids on a bus ostensibly heading to a forest field trip, but
instead took them to one of their stores and gave them a free toy. Haha, fuck
learning, fuck the environment. Predictably, educators
is what company senior vice president of marketing Peter Reiner had
about the stunt:
very real. Our campaign theme is around 'wish.' Last year, it was more
rational…talking about reasons for a consumer to come to us. This year, it's a
much better balance between the rational and the emotional, while bringing them
is what it sounds like when marketing people have no fucking clue what the
words coming out their mouth mean, which is pretty much always.
the shock ads that do sell a product benefit, like this fake
end-of-the-word interview prank by LG, are harmful to the industry because they inspire agencies
to get even more stupid. (Again, the interviewees in this video are obviously
maybe, CEOs and CMOs will eventually figure out that a short-term bump in
social media mentions caused by a “provocative” prank
ad is not doing one good goddamn thing for their brand.