LG’s Shock Ad Raises Questions About ‘Prankvertising’

By ABC News

Sep 6, 2013 8:21am

A new LG ad has people buzzing for its intense shock value.

The commercial, posted to YouTube on Monday, shows people from technology company LG working on office in Chile. They place one of their 84-inch HD TVs in the spot where the window should be and wire the place with hidden cameras.

Their plan was simple and diabolical. They invited unsuspecting job applicants into the wired office, and, during the interview, the applicants saw a scene of doom — a scene of falling meteors — unfolding through the “window.”

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Not surprisingly, the job applicants freak out. The room goes dark and the job hopefuls hunker down. When the lights come up, the office door is opened and the prank is revealed. Some of the applicants are able to laugh it off, but one man storms off angrily.

As of Thursday night, the ad had been seen more than 3 million times on YouTube. Many found it funny and others praised the realism of the doomsday scene that played out on the television, but some viewers were highly skeptical.

One commenter thought the job applicants were actors.

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LG wouldn’t confirm or deny the speculation when contacted by ABC News.

The commercial is the latest in a trend known as “prankvertising.” Advertisers have been scrambling to out-do each other with elaborate, arguably sadistic scenarios designed to shock the viewers and go viral.

Pepsi recently employed this tactic with its commercial featuring NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon disguised as an ordinary car shopper. Gordon took the unsuspecting car salesman on a harrowing test drive. The Pepsi Max commercial has been viewed more than 38 million times since it was posted to YouTube on March 12.

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In a commercial for a new deodorant, skin care company Nivea singled out people in a German airport, plastered their faces on newspapers and TV screens and claimed that they were wanted and dangerous. When authorities confronted the individuals in question, they asked them if they were stressed, then opened a briefcase containing the deodorant. That commercial has been viewed 7 million times since it was posted to YouTube on Feb. 12.

Critics of shock ads say they pose real concerns. What if one of the subjects has a heart attack? What if viewers are totally turned off by the extreme tactics employed by the advertiser?

They also question whether the ads translate to increased sales.

“People have no idea if it helps generate sales,” said Christopher Heine of Adweek.  “That said, it does generate publicity and brands can only hope that the publicity would be positive and not negative.”

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