Ridiculous publicity stunts
November 26, 2007 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Give me a ridiculous publicity stunt.

It's for a website that I'm promoting. I want something ridiculous. I'm looking for a, "woah, did that just happen" reaction.

I would like this stunt to take place physically in the city. Other than that, it's all game. I won't mention what kind of website it is because the stunt doesn't have to be related.

Note: I asked a similar question about a year ago. It's been a while, MeFi has grown, I thought I could ask again.

posted by 913 to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If your website is related to a personality, you could stage a disappearance (a "Where is so-and-so?" thing). If you could give us even a teeny bit more information, it would be helpful.
posted by amyms at 10:20 PM on November 26, 2007

Oh, are you still asking about the same site as your other question? Or a different site?
posted by amyms at 10:22 PM on November 26, 2007

If it were me, I'd try to follow in the footsteps of shows like Scare Tactics or Trigger Happy TV--start with an everyday situation (one that has a large audience of people nearby, of course), build suspension of disbelief, then do something so over the top and funny there's no question it was all a setup.

I'd love to offer up specific ideas, but I've got suggester's block so this generic drivel will have to do.
posted by Phyltre at 10:27 PM on November 26, 2007

I can't remember exactly where I heard this (maybe it was This American Life or Fresh Air or something) but someone was retelling all the crazy stuff that Horatio Sanz when he was in Chicago.

Apparently he put fliers all around town saying that, "on such-and-such date so-and-so will kill himself. Seriously." Then on the date a big crowd gathered at the place where it was supposed to happen. Horatio was on a nearby roof top. He looked down at the crowd, stepped away from the edge, out of sight and then threw a dummy off the ledge. The crowd screamed, then laughed.

He also organized and led a fake march.

My memory is really fuzzy... it may not have even been Horatio Sanz who did this...
posted by wfrgms at 10:29 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Improv Everywhere people are masters of this sort of thing (though with no particular PR in mind); you might want to check out their website for ideas.
posted by carrienation at 10:37 PM on November 26, 2007

Also, look into Alan Abel.
posted by asavage at 10:46 PM on November 26, 2007

Ed Mirvish, late owner of Toronto's "Honest Ed's" Department Store and many other businesses, was known for his publicity stunts, including riding pink elephants around town (he was fined, but the increase in business justified the fines), hiring picketers to prostest his restaurant's dress code, and giving away lots of free turkeys. Plus, his whole storefront is covered in LOTS of lights...

If this sounds like your kind of thing, check out his book. At less than a dollar used, it's a real bargain.
posted by fvox13 at 10:57 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the replies so far, I'm definitely going through them all.

amyms: It's for the same website. Just to put it out there, the website is academic/research related, but your ideas don't have to be.
posted by 913 at 11:29 PM on November 26, 2007

dude, I make my money coming up with creative concepts like that. every ad agency on earth would hire you stanta pede if you had a bunch of those. it's the holy grail and a lot of moolah. trying to get this on the cheap here... well, good luck.
posted by krautland at 11:43 PM on November 26, 2007

Something I've wanted to do for a while:

Get together a large group of people (anywhere from 25-100). Come up with a catchy song, choreograph a dance to accompany it. Then, on the Big Day, have everyone stationed around on the street downtown as though they don't know one another (one guy is washing windows, someone is delivering mail, etc.). You start walking down the middle of the street, snapping your fingers, and begin singing. One by one, your team joins in your song until all 25-100 of you are together in a huge song-and-dance number straight out of a 1960s musical.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:44 PM on November 26, 2007 [10 favorites]

shakespeherian: you're not the first or only one! My friends have talked about it before too, but better than that, some people have actually tried it. prangstgrup's done it, as have The Chaser (they have a whole segment on this, called "If Life Were a Musical"). I don't know if I've ever seen one as big as 25+ people, though.
posted by lou at 1:31 AM on November 27, 2007

The best publicity you can possibly hope for is to give people something for free. Like host a car wash, and when people try to pay for it, explain that it's free. I guarantee they'll remember it, hold on to your card, and tell their friends.

I think using flash mob tactics to sell stuff is really cynical, and over time is just going to result in any whimsical public behavior being met with an "wonder what THOSE guys are selling" reaction.
posted by hermitosis at 7:02 AM on November 27, 2007

You should probably read up on Guy DeBord and Situationism if this question is going to be an annual tradition.
posted by rhizome at 7:49 AM on November 27, 2007

When you've finished with Guy DeBord, check out Joey Skaggs, master prankster.
posted by skylar at 8:48 AM on November 27, 2007

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