Prank-vertising: when lawyers don't want you having (too much) fun

Prank-vertising: when lawyers don't want you having (too much) fun

I give up. I really do.

To be honest, I am minded to start throwing a Basil Fawlty-esque wobbly involving tree branches, an old Morris Traveller and—to add a modern touch—a GPS sat nav; although frustratingly I've not worked out what to do with the sat nav yet (It'll come to me).

Simply put: does the advertising industry really need to fashion yet another term?

I have only just got used to understanding the black arts of astroturfingsock puppetry and flogging and now we have the following terms or 'mash-ups' ('mash-up': another word to dislike. Bah humbug):

  • prank-vertising
  • prankvertising, or
  • prank advertising

Let's just call it 'PV'. I need to save my fingers from typing and my spell-checker from getting unduly offended by these new terms.

Essentially, PV is where advertisers (desperately) try to break through the din of modern advertising by engaging in japes or pranks. In legalese, this is where an advertiser tricks someone and thereby causes the victim to experience embarrassment, distress and/or discomfort for the purposes of selling goods and services.

If you want some examples, have a look at yesterday's Guardian. It sets out the shenanigans that advertisers have got up to in the recent past which include: staging a fake meteor attack (as you do); pretending that a murder has taken place in a lift (nice); and, my favourite, tricking airport passengers into thinking they are wanted fugitives (a very common way of selling 'stress protect' deodorant—in Germany anyway).


Well, no. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) certainly does not always think so.

By way of example, the Metronome Group< got itself into a pickle with the ASA in 2009 when advertising the urban thriller film: <

Subscription Form

Latest Articles:

Already a subscriber? Login
RELX (UK) Limited, trading as LexisNexis, and our LexisNexis Legal & Professional group companies will contact you to confirm your email address. You can manage your communication preferences via our Preference Centre. You can learn more about how we handle your personal data and your rights by reviewing our  Privacy Policy.

Access this article and thousands of others like it free by subscribing to our blog.

Read full article

Already a subscriber? Login