Pranks, eh? Don’t you just bloody love ‘em. Especially when they happen to other people – ha! And a particularly elaborate prank, if well-executed enough, can light the yellow brick road all the way to video marketing glory, as we’ve seen on more than a few occasions in the last year or so.

The prank, in these instances, refers to some form of complex con-job, perpetrated by the brand representatives on an unsuspecting member or members of the general public, often involving set-pieces as highly choreographed as anything Jose Mourinho might scrawl on his pre-match tactics board.

Here’s a stormingly successful example of the genre, courtesy of Carlsberg. Launched back in September 2011, and centring on a cinema stuffed full of bikers, it’s chalked up 12million YouTube views to-date.

What the ads exemplified by the above are really hooking into is the same kind of ultimately good-natured mischief which powered old telly successes like Punk’d and – if we delve deep enough into the mists of history – Beadle’s About.

They’re based on the viewer delighting at the size of the prank, waiting to see the shock and reaction of the designated ‘victim’, before hanging on for the normalcy-restoring relief when they are finally let in on the gag.

As far as video marketing is concerned, the actual connection to the brand can seem pretty tenuous. However these ads aren’t really about the hard sell; it’s about creating content designed to get viewers laughing, talking and sharing.

And with the share-factor so very important to so many marketers at present, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the last year has witnessed in a mini-boom in these types of online video.

Following the Carlsberg hit of the year before, April 2012 saw the arrival of the blockbuster of the genre – in the shape of an ad launching TV network TNT in Belgium. Entitled ‘Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Square’, it’s been seen by more than 43m viewers in 10 months.

Then back in October, when the whole of Britain seemed consumed by Skyfall fever, Coke Zero put out an ad tying into that One Bond Film to Rule Them All. Set in the familiar environs of St. Pancras station, it’s scored more than 9m views so far.

And just in the last week, Nivea has served up a German airport-set video that sees the poor unsuspecting punters cast as criminals on the run. Adroitly executed, to be sure, its reward has been 2.8m views in just six days.

However while the potential rewards are self-evident, these trickster virals are not devoid of risk. To wit, French kitchen firm Cuisinella sailed too close to the wind last year when it launched an ad showing supposedly unsuspecting civilians becoming the victims of mock sniper assassination.

Always a risky bet, you would think, and so it proved as the company’s top brass got cold feet and swiftly canned the campaign.

As yet, Spectrecom has not produced an elaborate video marketing prank. Aw, sad faces. But we’ve made a great many others, all targeted at achieving results for our clients. Check out our showreel to see more.

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