Publicity Stunts

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Google’s Rare April Fool’s Foul

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Filed under: Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, The World of the Prank

Like everything else in the tech world, April Fool’s Day is highly competitive. For years, the supple minds at Google led with the cleverist, “stickiest” stunts.

It’s barely dawn on the West Coast, and this year’s edition has already confused and alienated enough users to prompt a rare and serious backlash and retraction. Verdict: Too hip for the room.


“Google Disables April Fool’s Joke Amid User Fury After Prank Backfires”
By Alex Hern
The Guardian
April 1, 2016

minionmicdropGoogle’s April Fools’ Day prank has backfired, leaving the company looking the fool and a number of concerned users fearing for their jobs – or worse.

As 1 April began in Australia, the company announced its latest stunt: “Gmail Mic Drop”, a special version of the send button which appends a gif of a minion (one of the sexless, ageless merchandising icons from the Despicable Me series) dressed as the queen dropping a microphone to the end of your email.

“Everyone will get your message, but that’s the last you’ll ever hear about it,” Google added in a blogpost announcing the feature. “Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won’t see it.”

For most companies, that would be the end of it, but Google has a longstanding tradition of actually building the products they “announce” on April Fools’ Day, even if they only survive for 24 hours. Read more.


Fear, Loathing, and Farts in Austin

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

Texas is at the center of the national controversy over mass shootings and gun control. And few cities have the same flair for the theatrical as does Austin.

The warring sides of the gun debate recently staged their own equally ridiculous public events in the state capital.

Fake Mass ShootingThe Huffington Post reports that “Pro-gun advocates doused fake victims with fake blood outside the University of Texas on Saturday in what they called a theatrical event to show the need for firearms on campus.

“Their ‘mock mass shooting’ was met with a much larger counter-protest and derision by many onlookers in the left-leaning city of Austin who saw the group pushing a position that could increase the danger brought by firearms at the university that saw one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history.

“One of the mock mass shooting organizers, the group Come and Take It Texas, said allowing gun-free zones on campuses eliminated a human right to personal protection.

“‘Our goal is to instill the importance of everyone to be able to defend themselves in any way they choose,’ the group said in a statement posted on its website.” Whole thing here.

mass farting counter-protestMeanwhile, as reported in the Austin Chronicle, “Pro-gun demonstrators staging a mock mass shooting near the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday were overwhelmed in number and ferocity by a large group of counter-protesters wielding dildos and machines that generated fart sounds.

“‘This isn’t about guns necessarily. This is about scaring our community. This is about a choice between fear and a little bit of good humor,’ Andrew Dobbs, a UT alumnus who organized the ‘mass farting’ counter-protest, told the crowd. ‘We are in a scary time right now and lots of scary things are happening, and some people want us to be more afraid.’ Whole thing here.

Jester as Publicist

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Tourism promotion 101: Anoint a court jester for your castle.


Welsh Castle Appoints First Jester Since 13th Century
by Kira Brekke
HuffPost Live
August 5, 2015

Why, you ask? Why not?

The job of a jester — also known as a professional joker or “fool,” for all you plebeians out there — has been mostly left behind in medieval history. But the post has been resurrected thanks to Conwy Castle in Wales, which has just pointed its first jester since the 13th century. HuffPost Live’s Josh Zepps spoke to the jester himself, Russel Erwood (or “Erwyd le Fol”), about how such a position was bestowed upon him and what we can expect from him and his jesterly ways in the coming months.

Terminator Prank (He Said He’d Be Back)

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Arnold Pranks Fans as the Terminator…to benefit after school programs (and promote his upcoming film)

April Fool’s 2015 Geeky Gags from the Tech Sphere (Roundup)

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

It’s April Fool’s Day, and TechCrunch is sending mixed signals. Yesterday, it published a rant about timely corporate PR stunts echoing the grumpy, contrarian style of the blog’s departed founder Michael Arrington.

And yet, today, it posted a fun gallery of its industry’s most clever gags, including a steam-powered gaming console, a reddit community dedicated to remixes of the Space Jam theme, and much more.

Is it attempting to drum up controversy? Who even knows anymore!


“April Fool’s 2015: The Mega-Roundup Of The Best Gags”
By Greg Kumparak
TechCrunch
April 1, 2015

Space Jam /r/listentothisIt’s that time of year again! The time when a massive chunk of the tech industry drops what it’s doing and puts all of its collective effort into getting a few laughs. As we do every year, we’re gathering up the best/worse/most cringe-tastic efforts in one place for your perusal. We’ll be updating this list as the day goes on, so check back in later! Read more.

Glitter-bomb Prankster Can’t Stop His Own Creation

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Spin

It was an idea that practically shimmered with brilliance: Have packages full of glitter shipped to your enemies, assuring they won’t get your sparkly animus out of their sweaters for a long time. It exploded on blogs and social media, and now Matthew Carpenter, its creator, is not having fun anymore. He’s trying to sell the business after just one day. Sounds like a marketing ploy if there ever was one. “This is too successful. Please take it off my hands for a lot of money.”

ViceGlitter-020


“Evil genius behind ‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter’ didn’t quite think it through”
by Andrea Romano
Mashable
January 15, 2015

Mathew Carpenter has made a huge mistake, and much like his creation, it’s not going anywhere for a while.

The 22-year-old creator of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com — and self-proclaimed person who “live[s] for moolah” on Twitter — is urging his millions of fans to stop using his brilliantly evil website to get revenge on their enemies.

After a boom in sales that also caused a temporary site crash, Carpenter decided he is in way over his sparkly head and put the site up for grabs to anyone who wants to buy it from him.

He also posted on the website ProductHunt.com, pleading with customers to stop buying his shiny and swift revenge methods.

Read the rest here.

 

Joaquin Phoenix Pranks David Letterman Again

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, The History of Pranks

phoenixlettermanWhen he retires from television in 2015, David Letterman will wrap a remarkable career of stunts, water-cooler bombshells, and awkward celebrity interviews.

In some cases, Letterman has been seemingly ambushed by guests who were physically combative (Crispin Glover), doped out of their gourds (Farrah Fawcett, Harmony Korine), or simply engaging in the unhinged antics that are their calling cards (Courtney Love, who inspired the host to quip, “I’m glad I have a son.”)

In others, the hosts and his guests have worked in collaboration. Witness the legendary encounter between comedian Andy Kaufman and wrestler Jerry Lawler.

More recently, actor Joaquin Phoenix used a disturbing and incoherent Letterman appearance to promote his controversial documentary I’m Still Here, for which he embarked on a half-assed hip hop career. Letterman later admitted that he was in on the gag.

Earlier this month, Phoenix returned to the show to announce that, like Alec Baldwin before him, he had decided to marry his yoga instructor. Read more here.

Watch the video:

TV Viewers Disappointed to Not See Host Eaten Alive

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts, Spin

Promotional materials for the Discovery Channel program Eaten Alive led some viewers to expect that they would see host Paul Rosolie devoured by a wild anaconda. When he wasn’t, animal-rights activists and passive sadists alike expressed dismay.


‘Eaten Alive’ Watched by 4.1 Million Viewers
by Lynn Elber
ABCNews
December 8, 2014

eaten aliveLOS ANGELES (AP) – Discovery Channel’s “Eaten Alive” special that pitted snake against man drew more than 4 million viewers, but not all considered it time well spent.

Although the title and a promotional video indicated that naturalist Paul Rosolie would be swallowed by a giant anaconda, Sunday’s pre-taped special didn’t go that far.

Rosolie, described by Discovery as a snake researcher and conservationist, ended his Amazon jungle encounter with the snake after it encircled his body and began squeezing. Wearing bulky protective gear, Rosolie escaped with a sore arm but uneaten.

Online, some viewers jeered the show for falling short of its promise. One posting showed a photo of a mild-looking dog nibbling on a person’s finger, accompanied by a request for their own Discovery show. (more…)

Instant Fried Shrimp Machine [Japanese]

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts, Satire

Brought to you by Docomo Wireless Carrier to promote the high-speed capability of their new LTE network…

Watch the video

via Yahoo News

Improv Everywhere: The Pirates of Central Park

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:


The Pirates of Central Park

For our latest mission, we staged a pirate invasion on the Central Park Lake, converting a rowboat rental into a pirate ship. Actors dressed as pirates from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction set sail on the lake, searching for the keys to their treasure chest. The pirates interrogated the New Yorkers and tourists on other rowboats and by the shore, much to their delight.

Enjoy the video and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

Created and Directed by Charlie Todd / Produced by: Deverge / Music by Tyler Walker

Reinflating the Balloon Boy Hoax

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts, The History of Pranks

Reality-TV-obsessed Richard Heene, whose theatrical Balloon Boy hoax transfixed the nation back in 2009, is back in the media. His son Falcon (the one everyone thought was accidentally in the homemade “flying saucer” when it took off) and his brothers have formed a band and written a song called “Balloon Hoax No Hoax.”

When you’re out of helium, try hot air…


Watch the video:

Read an interview with the family from qz.com, “Catching Up With Balloon Boy and His Family, Five Years Later”

The Case for Giving Andy Kaufman a Rest

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Publicity Stunts, The History of Pranks, The World of the Prank

It’s 30 years later and Bob Zmuda, writing partner of the legendary prankster Andy Kaufman, won’t let his friend continue his quiet rendezvous with Elvis. Washington Post writer, Amy Argetsinger, ponders whether stoking decades-old rumors that Kaufman faked his death discredits the man and the astounding pranks he pulled while he was among us.


“Andy Kaufman: Why It’s Time to Celebrate the Comic and Bury the Death Hoax”
by Amy Argetsinger
Washington Post
October 9, 2014

Here we go again.

Thirty years after Andy Kaufman died too young of cancer — cutting short a brief, sensational career that changed the face of American comedy, and maybe even American irony — the old Andy Kaufman death-hoax theory is back.

It’s new and improved for the Internet era, going viral now that the ragtag community of Andy Truthers has been joined by a credentialed ally, Kaufman’s longtime writing partner Bob Zmuda. In a new book co-authored by Kaufman’s girlfriend Lynne Margulies, Zmuda recalls years of conversations in which his friend outlined plans to exit show business by faking his own death.

“He said to keep a lid on it for 30 years,” says Zmuda in a phone interview. “It’s 30 years now. . . . What I’m doing is sending a telegram to Andy: It’s time to come in from the cold.” (more…)

Hazmat Suited Doctor Brings it Home

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Publicity Stunts

From CNN, October 5, 2014:

Doctor Gilbert Mobley wore a hazmat suit and strolled through the world’s busiest airport to make a point about Ebola.

Watch the video – Doctor: The CDC is lying about Ebola

Jasmine’s Jugs

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Publicity Stunts

Update, September 23, 2014: BUSTED! Snopes.com exposes this titillating hoax.


Intent on getting an MTV reality show, Jasmine Tridevil (not her real name) gets a third breast implanted on her chest…


Jasmine Tridevil Gets Third Boob ‘Because I Don’t Want To Date Anymore’
by Andy Campbell
The Huffington Post
September 22, 2014

A Florida woman spent $20,000 to get a third boob surgically implanted on her chest in a twisted attempt to look less attractive to men.

Jasmine Tridevil

“I don’t want to date anymore,” Jasmine Tridevil, 21, said in a recent radio broadcast when asked why she added the extra mammary complete with an artificial nipple and tattoo to resemble an areola.

But she’s still proud of the triple nipple.

(more…)

A Rough Week for Celebrities: Recap

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Publicity Stunts

This week, a major Hollywood star faces repercussions for a public stunt, while another remains with us despite a death hoax.

bettywhite

via Flickr

The satirical website EmpireNews.net caused a brief scare with a pun about beloved actress Betty White “dyeing.” In light of the very real passing of comedian Joan Rivers, the goof caused understandable alarm.


from NBC 5 San Diego

from NBC 5 San Diego

Meanwhile, Steve-O, a star of the Jackass franchise, is facing criminal charges for defacing a sign directing Southern California motorists to Sea World. With the horrifying scandals that have lately surrounded the aquatic amusement park, Sea World must be particularly sensitive about its reputation.