Prankvertising – Pranks as a New Form of Brand Advertising Online
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A practical joke (i.e. a prank) belongs to a category of disparagement humor, as it is a playful act held to amuse, tease or even mock the victim, and to entertain the audience. Alt-hough humor has been long exploited in broadcast and print advertising, the use of practical jokes is a more recent phenomenon esp. in digital marketing. The development of the Inter-net and social media creates new opportunities for using pranks as disguised adverts embed-ded in online strategies and there is an increasing number of companies which exploit pranks as a creative content solution for their on-line presence. As there is little academic endeavor devoted to this subject, this paper forwards a theoretical and practical framework for pranks. It recognizes pranks as innovative forms of digital advertising and it analyses their potential in terms of branding effectiveness (e.g. in maximizing brand reach, exposure, brand visibility, drawing consumer attention, eliciting strong emotions etc.). Possible prank effects are inferred from the theory of humor and from the secondary data collected by the authors of this paper. Key challenges, risks and limitations are discussed and relevant exam-ples are provided. The paper concludes with several research areas and questions to be ad-dressed in future empirical studies.
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