SBD/March 14, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Pepsi Max Prank Video Goes Viral Overnight; Has More Than Seven Million YouTube Hits

Pepsi earlier this week unveiled its Pepsi Max "Test Drive" ad featuring NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon in disguise, and the video has gone "viral overnight," but have "shock ads gone too far," wondered ABC's Lara Spencer. ABC's Nick Watt noted a Pepsi spokesperson "told us a stunt man actually did some of the driving" in the video, though he "refused to say whether 'Steve' is really a car salesman or an actor." The spokesperson did stress that Steve's "reactions are 100 percent genuine." Jalopnik.com's Travis Okulski said he "started to suspect on the second viewing" the video may have been staged because there are numerous tire marks on the road indicating "multiple takes" were filmed. He also had a "source on the set" who told him the salesman "was an actor." But Okulski added, "It's still a lot of fun to watch. It's a great ad." Adweek's Emma Bazilian said, "Even if people are talking about it in a negative way, they're still going to be talking about it."  Pepsi previously aired a spot with Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving in disguise as an old man -- "Uncle Drew" -- playing playground basketball, and Watt asked, "Is the viral prank the future of advertising?" Bazilian noted that she "didn't know how much longer you can keep this up for without people realizing that they're being tricked." Spencer added, "Something tells me we'll be seeing more of these" ("GMA," ABC, 3/14). This morning's edition of NBC's "Today" featured the video in its "What's Trending" segment, with NBC's Tamron Hall calling the video a "viral sensation" ("Today," NBC, 3/14). The video currently has more than seven million views (THE DAILY).

EVEN BETTER THAN THE REAL THING: NBC Sports Network’s Dave Briggs said of the video, “You think that’s real for a while. Once it runs for a while and you see the Pepsi Max thing. I think it’s a set-up reminiscent of the Kyrie Irving pick-up basketball video.” SI’s Chris Mannix said, “Great acting in that. … We watched that thing a few times. That looks real." Briggs: "It did look legit” (“The Crossover,” NBCSN, 3/13).
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