2013: The Year of Prankvertising

Let’s face it, we love watching other people get pranked. Heck, we practically feed off of the dramatic irony! It’s perfectly clear why brands and marketers filled 2013 with prankvertising—entrapping or surprising unsuspecting consumers by a prank or spectacular stunt. Both large and small companies catered to this trend, marketing an array of products, from feature films to soft drinks to meditation techniques.

Below are 12 of our favorite prankvertising viral videos from 2013, ranked by YouTube views.

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise

53,499,650 YouTube views

2,742,124 social shares

Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: “Test Drive”

40,520,838 YouTube views

2,643,333 social shares

WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-Time Giving

35,116,613 YouTube views

2,443,873 social shares

LG Meteor Prank

15,388,677 YouTube views

790,093 social shares


10,231,069 YouTube views

274,100 social shares

NIVEA Deo: Stresstest

7,598,756 YouTube views

293,057 social shares

Elevator Murder Experiment

6,789,350 YouTube views

157,030 social shares

Carlsberg Puts Friends to the Test

6,462,421 YouTube views

354,296 social shares

All Eyes on the S4

4,366,848 YouTube views

183,024 social shares

Beauty Shop Scare

3,684,187 YouTube views

86,360 social shares

Chucky Ad Prank At the Bus Stop

839,625 YouTube views (2 uploaded versions combined)

43,839 social shares

Man in a Cube

246,311 YouTube views

9,636 social shares

Last year was filled with marketing stunts that entertained millions, but some believe prankvertising has reached its peak: “I think Prankvertising has hit its height. The reason I think it’s over is because of the wonderful john st parody—everyone is aware of the genre and it is starting to lose its impact just because it is so well-known. Brands and agencies who continue to use the format will need to do it very well for it to succeed,” said COO of Unruly Sarah Wood.

The john st parody below mocks many of the scare tactics advertisers use in prankvertising. Promoting “exFEARiential” marketing, this hilarious, over-the-top spot may leave viewers jaded when it comes to future prankvertising efforts.

Though, this hasn’t stopped marketers from producing prankvertising video ads in 2014. Viral video marketing agency Thinkmodo recently released “Devil Baby Attack” promoting the upcoming film Devil’s Due. In only 10 days, the video has racked up over 36 million YouTube views and 2.1 million social shares.

Even a phone book company is joining in on the prankvertising fun. “Megaphone Man” from User-Friendly Phone Books has earned over 370,000 views in its first week along with 5,200 social shares.

People have seen enough prankvertising videos to become at least somewhat cynical toward the concept. However, many watch these videos purely because of their entertainment value. Branding is subtle and watching people get pranked is funny, so these ads usually attract more viewers than a typical 30-second commercial. Do you think people are tired of prankvertising videos? Is the trend coming to an end? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and check out these awesome prankvertising ads from 2012 below!

Coca-Cola: Unlock the 007 in you. You have 70 seconds!

LG: So Real it’s Scary

Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’


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