Continuing The Prank Advertising Theme…

Back in June, Leo Burnett London released this viral clip on behalf of UK THINK!, a government organization designed to encourage safer driving to reduce road injuries and fatalities…

Contrast this with yesterday’s Carrie viral and it’s pretty clear the whole genre of “prank advertising” is quickly evolving and maturing. In contrast to higher profile clips like the Jeff Gordon Pepsi MAX prank or the LG Meteor prank, this one never lets the prankees in on the joke and withholds its point from viewers until the end super. The net effect is that this piece feels like a longer form commercial instead of something new and shareworthy.

At 8.6 million views for a government message, it definitely qualifies as a success. But with the others climbing into the tens of million viewers (16.4 and climbing, 38.9, and 12.6 million views respectively), engaging viewers seems like a better approach to this still nascent advertising form.

No doubt, we’ll be seeing lots more of these pranks as brands try to jump in on this opportunity. Many of them will be incredibly clever and inventive, finding new ways to surprise, engage and encourage viral sharing. But I can’t help feeling that prank advertising is enjoying a bubble of popularity at this moment in time.

A bubble that will pop when someone gets hurt by one.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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