Prank-vertising: More Shock Than Awe?

It’s getting harder and harder to break through the noise. And “Blurred Lines” wasn’t just the song of the summer; it’s standard operating procedure for how to navigate the media landscape. It’s no surprise that brands are amping up their game in terms of impact. People lined up for blocks when Trojan gave away free vibrators last year to create demand, HBO put a dragon skeleton on the beach for Game of Thrones, and Oreo has been the freshest 100-year-old brand so far this year, kicking off the year with its “Dunk in the Dark.”

But now we are witnessing a whole new level of impact with the advent of Punk-vertising: brands that play a trick on consumers and then release it for public consumption and marketing impact. And trust me, these ads are getting far more buzz than a cart full of vibrators.

It’s also an indication of how brands are trying to be authentic, by not just selling product but by creating real experiences that engage their audiences.

Last year for the feature release of Skyfall, unsuspecting commuters entered an obstacle course to unlock their “007” with Coke Zero. It’s so much fun to watch and impossible not to share when there is a unique experience unfolding before your eyes.

Pine Sol, a very traditional brand, punked a bunch of fastidious men earlier in the year. Thinking they were testing out new household cleaning products, the men were shocked to the see the infamous Pine Sol spokesperson crash through the wall. Hysteria ensued.

More recently, Nivea terrorized people into thinking they were a wanted criminal, making newspaper headlines and causing a lot of stress. Not necessarily an experience any one of us should want, but is it entertaining?

The question is: Does this type of advertising work?

Well, it depends. The pranks certainly nail their first two objectives: to break through the clutter and get people talking. They’re also an indication of brands trying to be authentic, by not just selling a product but by creating unique experiences that engage their audiences.

But this only works if the overall emotion for the participants (and the viewers) is a positive one.

LG got a firestorm of criticism when it punked would-be job applicants into thinking a meteor had struck the building. Gone too far? Many think so.

Shock value for shock’s sake doesn’t work in terms of meeting marketing objectives. It may get buzz but I doubt it sells product.

Brands have to stay true to their trademark and true to what consumers know about them in order for any marketing to be effective. They can entertain and even surprise, but they must also delight. Delight comes from knowing who you are and what your consumers want.

So while Nivea was trying to show how to treat stressed skin, and LG was trying to show the realistic picture quality of their televisions, some say they went too far to shock and lost their brands’ meanings in the process. Skyfall and Pine Sol, on the other hand, stayed very true to their characters while adding an element of surprise. That’s a formula for marketing success.

Viral is the new black, and it’s infiltrating all that is traditional about marketing. Even network news. I recently sat down with Fox & Friends who made a point of investigating the notion of Prank-vertising and I’d imagine this discussion is just beginning.

Who Is Ross Ulbricht? Piecing Together The Life Of The Alleged Libertarian Mastermind Behind Silk Road

If you ask his family members, Ross William Ulbricht did not seem like a criminal mastermind.

No More Free Burgers For Furloughed Workers In D.C.

Things just got a bit worse for furloughed workers: The D.C. restaurant that promised free burgers to out-of-work feds is calling off the program.

Citing “overwhelming crowds,” Z-Burger owner Peter Tabibian said in a news release that the program would end on Thursday — four days into the partial government shutdown which has left some 800,000 employees on unpaid leave.

“I wanted to do something nice for the federal workers,” Tabibian told HuffPost. “I thought I was going to do my little part to make things a little easier.”

That little part turned out to be more jumbo-sized than he’d bargained for. “Every day we are giving away $30,000 worth of food,” he said, explaining that this amount translates to about “5-6,000 burgers” per day at his four D.C. locations. Tababian also said lines “200 deep” are burning out his employees.

“I’m sorry I can’t do it longer than Thursday. It’s going to put me out of business,” he said.

A number of other D.C.-area restaurants are still keeping up their shutdown deals — some are also continuing their policy of charging extra to members of Congress.

Tabibian said he might start up “other stuff,” too, once he’s able to “catch up on some bills.”

Descriptions Of Twitter From The Annals Of Urban Dictionary

While we’re waiting for Twitter’s S-1 filing to hit, here’s the consensus opinion of the service from Urban Dictionary. Disclaimer: some of them are from the earlier days of Twitter.

Here are a bunch of Urban Dictionary definitions from various points in Twitter’s history. Twitter has changed a lot in recent years — focusing more on conversations and the like lately — so keep that in mind as most of the top results on Urban Dictionary come from around 2009. A few from other times are thrown in for fun, and some of the top results were even a little too profane to include.

Hat tip tip to Quartz for collecting Twitter's descriptions from paper of record.

So, while we're waiting for Twitter to drop its S-1 filing…

From Apr 9, 2009

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

From Apr 6, 2009

View Entire List ›

The Coming Market Impact Of Apple’s 64-Bit A7

By Ed McKernan:

The most significant part of Apple’s (AAPL) launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C were not the phones themselves, rather it is the 64 bit A7 processor, which will be the platform that moves the company safely to higher ground while the rest of mobiles commoditizes. While analysts preened for a mass market $300 phone to “save” the ecosystem, Apple headed in a completely different direction that offers revenue growth and increased margins. Contrary to belief, $300 phones are a dead end.

In all my years marketing mobiles at Intel (INTC) and its startup competitors Cyrix and Transmeta, there were three transitions that mattered in the x86 market. The first was the 286 to 386 transition in the early 1990s that finally separated Intel from AMD and set it on a tremendous growth path. The second was Transmeta’s launch of the first truly low power mobile x86 marketed to the

Complete Story »

New Video Explores Possibility of Touch ID in Fifth-Generation iPad

A new video that explores the possibility of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the fifth-generation iPad has been released on YouTube channel Unbox Therapy.

In the video, the purported front panel of the fifth-generation iPad is compared to a home button with a fingerprint sensor removed from the iPhone 5s and a home button removed from a standard iPhone.

The standard home button does not appear to fit inside the casing of the iPad 5, while the smaller home button equipped with a fingerprint sensor does indeed fit. While this is not concrete evidence by any means, it does suggest that the fifth-generation iPad is potentially able to support the Touch ID hardware.

A major caveat, however, is that Apple’s fifth-generation iPad is expected to take design cues from the iPad mini. The current iPad mini has a home button that is smaller than the home button found in the iPhone 5, which could also explain the home button sizing differences found in the fourth-generation iPad and the shell of the iPad 5.

There has been some prior evidence that the next generation iPads could come equipped with the same fingerprint sensor found in the iPhone 5s. Last week, an image leaked that appeared to show a fully-assembled next generation iPad mini in gold with a fingerprint sensor, though it was unclear whether the image was real or rendered.

Apple is expected to unveil the fifth-generation iPad alongside the second-generation iPad mini at an upcoming media event that could take place in late October. The second-generation iPad mini, which could be in short supply, will come equipped with a Retina screen while the fifth-generation iPad will take on a slimmer iPad mini-style design.


Hedge fund Sarissa opposes Astex sale to Otsuka

Oct 2 (Reuters) – Hedge fund Sarissa Capital, a large shareholder of Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc, opposed the sale of the biotechnology company to Japan’s Otsuka Holdings Co .