Why I like it: “Prankvertising” has become all the rage lately, and for good reason: they’re simple to ideate(*), they’re relatively cheap to produce, they’re ready-made for the web/social age, and if you hit the jackpot, the returns can be huge. This one nailed it by perfectly calibrating the three ingredients that make these things work well: a)Impact: increasingly you have to push the envelope more and more, and this one really goes for it – even though I knew what was going to happen, my jaw dropped alongside that of the poor victims. b)Tone: this one borders on going over-the-top (the scream was a little too much, perhaps?) but at no point do you feel the participants are being overly manipulated. c)Role of the brand: This is a must, and it’s also where seemingly great ideas often falter. I was highly skeptical that they were going to effectively weave a brand into this, but I was wrong. It’s a stunt for the upcoming remake of Carrie, based on a Stephen King book about a girl with telekinetic powers. So it’s right on. Really well done, and in just one day it was all over social media (9 million views and counting) so there’s your smash hit!
(*) the ideas are somewhat easy to come up with because they all share a standard structure: hidden cameras, controlled environment, make something happen, film the reactions of the “victims”, edit the video, etc. This does not mean that it’s simple to come up good ideas, much less execute them – quite the contrary!
Client: 20th Century Fox Chasing Mavericks (a surfing movie)
Name: “Surfing NYC”
Category: Ambient/viral video
Why I like it: Orange skies at dawn. Quiet stillness all around as two surfers go through their preparation rituals, they gently glide onto their trusted boards and paddle into position as they become one with the undulating…streets of Manhattan(!) What do I like most about this web video? That they really went for it. This is in support of a surfing movie premiering this weekend in the US and it’s an interesting concept. But think how easy it would have been for them to go at it half-way. They could have used skateboards. Or the hills of Central Park, or done something on the East River. Or used many other shortcuts and visual metaphors to sell the same idea. But no, they set out to “surf” the streets of Manhattan and they sure did it, in every way except for the water. Everything about the clip, from the mellow soundtrack to their wetsuits, to their placid movements on the boards said “surfing”…and against the urban backdrop the result was…pretty unique. Surely this is a pretty niche action, and if you don’t already know about the movie they didn’t do a good job of linking it or telling you a little more – so it may not be perfect by any means. But it made me think of surfing, it gave me a nice little moment of urban NYC daydreaming, and it put the movie on my mental map. Mission accomplished!