Cellphone Popcorn Mystery Resolved: Pop Goes the Weasel

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Update June 18, 2008, submitted by reader daa dee:
Here’s how it’s done

Submitted by Art of the Prank reader Bob Pagani:

CardoWireless admits to making the “cell phones popping corn” video.

Company Fesses Up to Corn-Popping Cellphone Clips
by Jenna Wortham
WIRED Blog Network: Underwire
June 12, 2008

Bluetooth headset retailer Cardo Systems has claimed ownership of the hot viral videos that show people appearing to pop popcorn with their cellphones.

In a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday titled “Cellphone Popcorn Mystery Resolved,” (above) an advert for the company’s line of headsets follows the grainy footage of friends aiming phones at uncooked corn that’s been tallying millions of views on YouTube.

“The videos are spreading like wildfire, and becoming something of an urban legend,” said Kathryn Rhodes, the national marketing manager at Cardo Systems in a phone interview Thursday. “[The viral-marketing campaign] been really successful at capturing the attention of all different kinds of users.”

The popcorn videos are the latest viral goofs to catch on with internet video fans, and they’ve spawned clever spinoff clips in which, for instance, an iPhone surrounded by popcorn explodes.

From jeans and basketball shoes to summer movies, the steadily growing onslaught of stealth marketing — or “murketing,” as New York Times Magazine writer Rob Walker dubbed it — is delivering via a never-ending stream of crazy stunts (and, sometimes, head-scratching bafflement).

Rhodes said she and other Cardo staffers are “avid YouTube users,” so selecting the online video portal as a vehicle for the brand was only natural.

She revealed that Cardo commissioned the videos, and a marketing agency in Paris called LastFools created the hoax clips, which have grabbed more than 4 million views since uploading began May 28.

“Making popcorn with a cellphone happens only in the movies,” says a statement on the Cardo Systems’ site. “However, if you use a Cardo Bluetooth headset for your mobile calls, you can reduce power output by up to 99 percent.”

Wired.com debunked the video as fake with the help of physicist Louis Bloomfield, and speculated that a video-editing program or hidden heating pads caused the popcorn to pop. We’re still awaiting word from Cardo as to how exactly the ruse was pulled off; we’ll update you as soon as we know.