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Stuntvertising at its best.. or worst. You decide.

17.01.14

Stuntvertising at its best.. or worst. You decide.

We’re only 17 days into the New Year and there’s already plenty of talk around the numerous publicity stunts hitting us from around the globe.

This past week, my eyes have been subjected to:

1. A gruesome, half-dead, projectile vomiting baby that jumps up from its peaceful sleep in its pram

2. Half-naked subway riders

Scary… yes. Entertaining… sometimes. Good/ bad… you decide.

No Pants Subway Ride

People proud of their legs took to riding trains ‘pant-less’ on Sunday 12th January. The annual event, started back in 2002 in New York with just seven people involved, has since caught on around the world and encourages the brave and the outright fearless, to take to riding the underground half-dressed.

Indeed, it began as a small prank by Improve Everywhere, and the idea is such that people board a train/ subway and act like they don’t know each other, and wear winter gear (gloves, scarf, coat, hat etc) minus a pair of pants. It has grown from that small gang of seven guys to now taking place in 60 cities in over 25 countries.

If you were unfortunate enough to spot one of these crazies last Sunday then no, you weren’t imaging things…(watch the video here )


(Image – Improv Everywhere, 2014)

Devil Baby

A remote-controlled ‘devil baby’ frightened members of the public in New York this week, as a means to promote the new film, Devil’s Due.  Passers-by were enticed by the sound of crying coming from a deserted pram, after which the evil looking baby then drove round in its pram, coughing up sick and giving poor pedestrians mini heart attacks and gesturing rudely at police officers.

A video of this terror is well and truly circulating the internet – having been watched over 5 million times on YouTube, this is one clip that is sure to haunt us for many months to come. Watch it here


(Image – Yahoo! 2014)

And then there was Dappy *puts hands over eyes and shakes heads*…

Yes, alas, he leaked his very own naked photo. And shock, horror, it ended up pushing his even more shocking new song, to number one in the charts.

Oh the desire to be ‘famous’.  As you can imagine, t’is my least favourite ‘stunt’.

So, if anything, these visually disturbing but highly entertaining stunts (Dappy’s not-so-much on the entertaining side) highlight the power of spreadability, word of mouth (WOM), and outright bravery.

My favourite? The Devil Baby. Will I go and see Devil’s Due? Maybe.

And that’s down to the sheer brilliance of the prank and the very fact that it’s scared the living daylights out of everyone.  Terrifyingly priceless.

If stunts are successful, they have real power to affect how a person views a brand and can be that persuading factor in whether or not you go to see that film for instance.  Copious amounts of media coverage result and a brand’s profile can sky rocket.

However, driving awareness through the use of stunts is not always successful and it’s this delicate balance that we must always, always be aware of.

Ones that spring to mind that failed catastrophically:

Gunmen stormed a screening of Iron Man 3

Dressed in tactical gear and clutching plastic guns, a handful of actors fake stormed a theatre in Missouri, which was screening Iron Man 3 back in May 2013.

The result? Numerous calls to the police and a distraught Army vet voiced that the gunmen had triggered his PTSD.

Considering the horrific shooting in 2012 during a showing of the Dark Knight Rises, this was one of the worst ideas to come to fruition where stunts are concerned.


(Image – Cinema Blend, 2013)

Manhattan Skyline Photoshoot

In 2009, Manhattan workers were distressed by the American government staging a photo-opp around the very same area of the financial district that was hit in 9/11.

We are yet to find out the exact reason for this activity. What a bad, bad idea this was.

With all the above in mind, I’d absolutely refute the notion that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’. Have a quick Google search and you’ll find that there is no end of ‘PR stunts gone wrong’.

Timing and messaging are both crucial to any stunt, as is not emotionally scarring the very people you’re trying to enlist.

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