Trifunk Dictionary: Prankvert and the Rise of Viral Videos

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Blog | No Comments
Trifunk Dictionary: Prankvert and the Rise of Viral Videos


A hilarious cross between a prank and an advertisement – all in a tidy viral video package.

Lately, it seems like viral videos have started to replace the lottery.

Millions of musicians release cover tunes in hopes that they will wake up to millions of views and an invitation to go on the Ellen show. People film their pets doing all kinds of crazy tricks attempting rake in advertising dough. Businesses attach their brand to clever videos and convince customers to pass their company’s message along to their million closest friends.

But viral videos are completely unpredictable, right?

The good folks at Mashable recently posted a look at current viral videos we’ve all spent way too much time watching and dissected why they went viral. They say that the two things that most viral videos have in common is discussability and relatability. We agree.

There are a ton of different ways that businesses have used these two techniques to create buzz around a new product or share their brand’s message, but today, we’re focusing on the prankvert.

Why the prankvert is so effective

Because everyone likes a good prank. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Everyone likes to watch someone get pranked.

Pepsi has probably had the most success with creating viral prankverts. Thanks to a roster of celebrities, they are able to pull off some pretty sophisticated pranks and establish key emotional responses to their brand.

One of my favourite prankverts was when Pepsi MAX disguised Kyrie Irving as an old man and got him to play basketball alongside some pretty confused teammates. There are always questions about authenticity, but regardless of how real the reactions were, the video was watched over 24 million times.

Along with creating an opportunity for product placement, these prankverts show Pepsi as having a cheeky sense of humour – a quality their customers obviously appreciate and share in.

Viral videos must create an emotional response

Indifference isn’t going to prompt anyone to hit the “share” button, but complete shock, gut-wrenching laughter, or tears streaming down their face sure will.

Large companies are always fighting to find ways of connecting to their customers on a personal level and while you might think that uploading a video isn’t all that personal, the emotions a video evokes shows a brand as having human characteristics – and that is something that we can connect to.

Ok, without further ado, let’s watch some prankverts. I know that’s why you’re here.

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