How mean tricks can mean business: The success of prankvertising

An animatronic 'devil baby' in a remote controlled stroller goes on a rampage through the streets of New York City and hidden cameras record people's reactions to promote a new horror film. (thinkmodo/DevilDueNYC)


Tricksters and hucksters have never been as close as they are now with advertisers looking for pranks that go viral. From Devil Baby, to Flying People, to LG's End of the World ... today, we're dissecting the prankvertisement.

Few people would buy a product if they knew they'd been tricked by the manufacturer. But apparently, they'll buy it if someone else is tricked on the internet.

Many people in Manhattan spotted what appeared to be an abandoned baby carriage, moving along the city's sidewalks. When they approached to see if there was a baby inside, they got a helluva shock. What appeared to be a red-eyed demon popped out, spewing and screaming with the voice of the damned.

The 'Devil Baby" is a stunt to promote a new horror film. It's the latest so-called prankvertisement and has received more than 36 million hits since it was launched last week.

The company behind it is Thinkmodo. James Percelay is one of its founders. He was in New York.

With more on the effectiveness of these prankvertisements, we brought together two keen observers of advertising and pop culture:

Have thoughts you want to share on prankvertising? Smart way to get products attention or just insensitive?

We've opened up our comments on our web page, join in the conversation. Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. And you can always call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant and Sujata Berry.

Other segments from The Current archives you might like

Branded Content: Blurring the line between editorial & advertorial

Engineering Child's Play: GoldieBlox & Marketing Toys to Girls

Below are prankvertisements mentioned in today's segment

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise - Carrie

Elevator Murder Experiment What Would You Do

*** WARNING: Disturbing Image ***
Anti-Drunk Driving video for England's Department for Transport THINK! campaign 

LG Ultra HD TV Prank - End Of The World Job Interview

Examples of well natured prankvertisements:

WestJet Christmas Miracle: real-time giving

Busloads of kids get surprise trip to Toys"R"Us

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