I keep thinking Oxford Dictionaries was only pranking us by naming this emoji as its 2015 Word of the Year.
Not the word “emoji,” mind you. Literally this symbol – “tears of joy.”
But for those who have been doing their best to resist letting lose with their emojis, myself included, the year’s prankvertising-slash-stuntvertising videos proved "mischievous" doesn’t always have to be "mean," at least not all the time
A look at some of our favorites from what seemed (mostly) like a kinder, gentler year in branded pranks:
From WTF to WiFi in 6-seconds flat: The 2016 Chevy Cruze comes with built-in 4G LTE connectivity. Which is fortunate for the guy at the center of this prank.
Arnold pranks fans as the Terminator—to promote his summer movie, and to benefit afterschool programs. Worth it for the wax museum segments.
Iron Man meets Bionic Boy as Robert Downey Jr. surprises this child with a new 3D-printed bionic arm.
Let’s not forget that Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” and Always’ Effie-winning #LikeAGirl campaign are really prankvertising – putting young people on the spot to ask provocative questions in an effort to prove a point. Heck, I pull pranks on my daughter all the time, but rarely (okay, never) so successfully. This summer’s “Unstoppable,” timed perfectly around the hype around CBS’s girl power-themed ‘Supergirl,’ may end up describing this campaign. And “Choose Beautiful” is just that: beautiful.
Would it kill Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada to pull this prank on one my outbound vacation or inbound business flights? Carlsbad did, in this prank pulled on some very happy Londoners on their way home from holiday, as the Brits say. A nice little souvenir that’s sure to put some fun on tap at home.
Sometimes pranks are well deserved. This noteworthy effort from Y&R Moscow used technology to scan cars to see if they had disabled stickers. If they didn’t, and the driver pulled into parking places designated for the disabled anyway, a holographic image of a wheelchair-bound man accosted them on the street. Surely a sign of signs to come.
Even in a year with some pretty monumental Supreme Court decisions on personal liberty, this is pretty powerful stuff – a prank to make passersby come face to face with their own snap judgments about age, race, sexuality, gender, religion and love. Projects like this makes me proud to be in this business.
Longtime readers know I’m partial to horror movie promotional pranks like “Devil’s Due” and “Telekinetic Coffee House” but this one from Jaguar New Zealand may just take the cake. Not only does it play off all the hype around augmented reality, but it's spot on from a positioning standpoint – nothing can simulate what it’s like to drive a Jag, right? – and it drives it all home in unforgettable fashion. Hat tip to Rick Wootten for finding this one.
This video (at top) from Heineken takes our top this year—as a group of young contest winners get an amazing wake-up call.
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