How Far is Too Far?

In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to grab our attention. It’s bad enough that consumers are bombarded with advertising and marketing efforts everywhere they go, but now with technology like Hulu Plus, DVR and Pandora One (to name a few examples), people can easily fast-forward or even bypass commercials and advertisements at will. So what is a company to do?

One of the ways that agencies have been trying to get in front of potential consumers is by creating an event that effects a small number of people, and then hoping that event will go viral. There are some really great examples of that from around the world, such as Coca-Cola’s “Hug Me” vending machines, which awarded people who hugged a vending machine with a free Coke; or The Portuguese Office of Tourism’s “Stone QR Codes” campaign, which gave free trips or hotel stays to people who scanned unique QR codes throughout Europe.


A recent trend in this experience based viral marketing, however, has taken a far darker turn and capitalizes on scaring people to create a situation that they will never forget. There are some fantastic examples of this, such as the “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Prank,” performed to promote the release of “Carrie” in theaters; or LG’s “So Real it’s Scary” stunt where the floors of elevators were replaced with high-quality monitors that made it look like the floor was falling away as the elevator was rising.

While, yes, some of these viral marketing events can be quite great, the question has to be asked: how far is too far? That’s the main question that the folks over at john st, a Toronto-based advertising agency, set out to ask (and mock) in their latest effort: ExFEARiential Advertising.


While their video is obviously a joke (and is extremely hilarious), it does raise a fair question. there comes a point where we as advertisers take things too far, but what is that point? As advertising and marketing becomes more and more about making memorable experiences for consumers and less about a creative magazine ad, where is that line in the sand?

Here at Satori Marketing, that line is really about effective communication. Is the stunt or even that you are planning going to accurately convey your brand to potential customers? Will it achieve your goals without causing too much backlash? Or is it not at all in line with what you strive to be as a company? That’s what Satori Marketing can help you decide. We can help you figure out the best way to get people talking about you without compromising your company’s core beliefs. And that’s really all that matters.

Posted in Blog.