huge thanks to a regular tbaoo contributor – cheers oli. these really are odd and they fit just nicely ..
A great advertising campaign can take many forms. It can be something as simple as a poster or as complex as… well, as you care to make it. That’s the wonderful thing about marketing; the only limits are your budget and imagination. Want to fill a car park with a giant paint-spill? Go for it. Want to rebrand a national snack in another country’s flag? Why not? Creative campaigns range from the dynamic, the interactive, to the funny, strange and simply baffling. Be it Vodafone hiring streakers to run across the pitch in the middle of a rugby game, or Adidas hiding the entire Ajax football team in a department store dressing room, the possibilities are limitless. Here we discuss 6 famous campaigns that took a decidedly dark route to promote their wares. Unsettling? Yes. Bad taste? Maybe. But effective? You bet.
Resident Evil 6
Whether you’re an avid fan or bored to death of the Resident Evil franchise, it was impossible to ignore the PR stunt for Capcom’s latest offering. Within the heart of East London’s Smithfield Meat Market, one butchers shop was transformed into the cleverly titled Wesker & Son Resident Evil Human Butchery and specialized in selling – you guessed it – human meat. Not actual bits of human, of course; but rather typical butcher’s meat moulded into very convincing heads, hands, feet and various other limbs – all fit for legal human consumption.
The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project was the single best viral campaign in the history of marketing. Dreamt up by two graduates with almost no budget, it created a buzz that was responsible for their lo-fi horror becoming the most-hyped film of 1999. Partly it was timing: the internet was just taking off in a big way and it was only a matter of time before someone harnessed its social power for promotion. But mostly it was talent: the duo displayed an unerring instinct for what to say, and how to say it, building an entire mythology that conspiracy theorists swallowed hook, line and sinker. Shaky clips, ‘expert testimony’, blurred photographs and ‘missing person’ posters all worked their macabre magic, turning a $15,000 film about dead teens into a $248 million blockbuster. The rest, as they say, is history.
Shadow Man 2
Back in the day, Acclaim Entertainment courted controversy like no other. Be it offering to pay all UK driving fines on the day of Burnout 2’s release, or bribing people to name their baby after their latest offering, the company made more of a name for itself with stunts than it did making games. But one gruesome example stands out from the rest: offering to pay people to place ads on their relative’s gravestones. Predictably, there was outrage. After waiting until they and their game were plastered over every news outlet in the world, Acclaim Entertainment withdrew the ‘offer’, thereby ending one of the most effective campaigns of the year without spending a penny.
The Last Exorcism
Eli Roth is not known for his subtlety, a trait which seemingly extends into his promotional work. Launched in the days when chat roulette was at its zenith, this viral convinced users they were logged into a conversation with a cute girl on the verge of stripping off. As people watched, the girl would falter, her eyes roll back and her face distort into an animalistic scream. After a suitable pause for pants-wetting, the film’s website would then flicker up onscreen. While it wasn’t a Blair Witch style success, the film did gross $67 million off a $1.8 million budget, thanks in part to this deeply disturbing marketing campaign.
Depending on how clued-up you were, the Sopranos campaign was either witty or faintly unsettling. In 2007, cabs could be seen making their way around NYC, a suited Mafioso-type arm dangling from back, as if a body were (inexpertly) crammed inside the boot. While anyone stopping to take a closer look would notice the ‘HBO’ sticker beside it, we can’t help but wonder what tourists who had never even heard of the show thought of it all. Perhaps they just assumed NYC was living up to its reputation.
Benetton AIDS Campaign
As macabre stunts go, nothing will ever top Benetton’s tragic 1991 poster campaign, depicting AIDS activist David Kirby’s last moments with his grieving parents. Either a brave attempt to ignite discussion about a stigmatised condition, or a deeply cynical ploy to sell clothing, the moral ambivalence of Benetton’s poster only added to its notoriety. In recent years, Benetton have come under fire again and again for flying too close to the mark with subsequent campaigns; but none have ever had the same impact. Sad, morbid and unsettling, this is the most macabre of them all.
Thanks to Agency Central for their contribution. If you fancy your hand in working on creative projects, such as those listed above, then check out the wide array of marketing recruitment agencies on AgencyCentral.co.uk.