Saturday, February 22, 2014

Prankvertising: One Hit Wonder or Dawn of New Age Marketing?

Palak Grover, FMS Delhi

It has become extremely difficult for marketers to advertise effectively via traditional channels and grab attention not only because the generation has become more marketing-savvy and advertising-critical but also because they have “Seen It ALL”. In such a case, a prank played on them often succeeds in turning out to be a good strategy. And once this succeeds to get the attention, the word of mouth buzz starts and the brand and product gets viral in no time.

In the already cluttered marketing world, Prankvertising is perhaps the new age of marketing. It confronts the customers in unexpected ways and helps in getting top-of-mind recall in the minds of the viewers. Innovation in the pranks designed grabs people’s attention. Viewers find it easier to relate to the ads as they show unsuspecting customers like them and there is an inbuilt sense of reality which the viewers see in the ads. This increases the credibility in the minds of the viewers, helps in increasing the brand value of the product, makes the products top the minds of the consumers, differentiates it and helps in driving sales. As the advertising budgets get smaller and smaller, prankvertising turns out to be a very plausible option of getting maximum reach in minimum cost and stealing the attention of the already distracted online customers. This method is particularly very successful in launching a new product since it makes the product go viral with a minimum cost investment in their marketing budget. Prankvertising is Impactful, Innovative, Cost-effective and ensures maximum reach in less time. In case of established products, it helps in refreshing the image of the product with an element of fun and delight. Prankvertising is a great strategy for marketers and will dominate the future era of marketing.

Tanisha Pradhan, IIM Kozhikode

Sadism doesn’t always sell.

An innocent woman waiting at the airport sees her image being telecast on the national television as an “unpredictable and dangerous criminal”. Shocked and visibly shaken, she stares at the television in disbelief and meekly utters to her nearby passengers “I didn’t do anything” – evidently traumatized. Who wouldn’t be - being put through such a cruel joke merely for the sake of Nivea trying to sell its new stress-busting deodorant?

Are such outrageous stunts really worth the risk? What if the victim had a heart problem and wouldn’t have been able to take the joke in the way it was meant? Such marketing stunts definitely catch the eye of the audience, garnering millions of views on YouTube but if the trend continues without any needed rectifications in the intensity of the pranks, it might just be a disaster waiting to happen.

With the advertisers running out of good ideas to use the traditional channels of promoting new products, such eye-popping ads might not even be the best way for the consumers to learn about their product. Indeed so, one traumatized man who was at the receiving end of a prank staged by LG showing the end of civilization on an LG television stormed out of the staged scene using the choicest of swear words – not caring the least about the excellent real life like picture quality of the TV.

While we are used to advertisers reminding us that dark skin is not beautiful and wrinkles make us look and feel unattractive, the fact that they are now scaring us half to death seems to be like adding injury to insult. While sadism seems to be selling right now, but it does seem that at some point – in the long term - prankvertising will backfire on the advertisers.

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