Pranking New Yorkers: The Hot New Brand Content Trend

Within the past several months, New York City streets and shops and have proven to be the ideal canvases for viral prank videos—and unsuspecting New Yorkers the perfect prank victims.

Just last October, MGM and Screen Gems came up with the brilliant idea to promote their “Carrie” remake film by staging a terrifyingly-believable telekinetic freakout, starring a “real-life” Carrie. The dramatic performance, set up in a New York coffee shop, and delicious reactions of the patrons earned the video over 3 million views in less than one day.

By the time Super Bowl XLVIII arrived, AMC wanted a part of the fun. The cable network planted zombie-fied “Walkers” from its hit series, “The Walking Dead,” below grates of New York sidewalks. These poor pedestrians are just chatting with their friends or tapping through their iTunes playlists when a bloody arm of the undead reaches up to grab their ankles.

It’s cool. Just shake it off. That is, until the bear comes.

Now that the 2014 Winter Olympics are under way, it’s Chobani’s turn to up the game. The yogurt company, also a Team USA sponsor, set loose a realistic, robotic 1,400-pound bear on the New York City streets. Though he may have seemed menacing, the poor guy was actually just looking for some healthy food made with 100% natural ingredients. The faux grizzly proceeded to trash an entire grocery store, only to emerge from the destruction with his highly coveted prize: a cup of Chobani yogurt.

While many will argue that these pranks and their reactions are staged, the numbers don’t lie. With 51 million views, MGM’s “Carrie” prank video landed at number 8 on YouTube’s list of top 10 videos that “shook up 2013 and dominated conversation.” And it was only posted in October. Fake or real, that’s an impressive amount of exposure for the brand and its product.

A word to the wise New Yorker: As long as brands continue to take advantage of this trend, no coffee shop, grocery store, or sidewalk is safe. The pranks are rolling in fast, and there’s no sign of them stopping.

What’s the deal with the Content Strategist? At Contently, storytelling is the only marketing we do, and it works wonders. It could for you, too. Learn more.

Image by Chobani / Youtube
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